Turning Scarcity Into Plenty

Four years of college should give a student a good education. If life lessons come with it, all the better. Don Steiner ’88 studied business, but he practically majored in frugality, and now it’s his profession. It pays.

Steiner put himself through college, scraping most of the way. He waited tables and built swimming pools in Lancaster in the summer. He worked campus jobs and dug up grants. “I decided not to look at paying for college as something that was too hard to do,” he says. “I looked at it in terms of how am I going to make it happen. I saw everything as an opportunity. And I learned how to be frugal when I didn’t have money.”

One job was with LMU’s Special Games. Steiner was asked to raise $20,000 in four months. They picked the right guy: Steiner wrote grants, approached corporations and held raffles. And he got the money.

Today, frugality is Steiner’s livelihood. Steiner is the president and CEO of Profit Recovery Partners, a $13-million-a-year business that helps companies reduce costs. Profit Recovery has grown from two to 75 people, worked with 900 businesses and saved clients close to $1 billion, he estimates.

From success, Steiner gives. He donates scholarship funds for students in the School of Education, especially its PLACE Corps program, Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education. Steiner says Albert P. Koppes, O.Carm., associate chancellor at LMU, helped him find scholarships. “Since I paid my way through school, I understand the difficulty of getting through college,” Steiner says.

To support SOE student scholarships, contact Sharon Coulter, director of development atsharon.coulter@lmu.edu.