When George and Fern Staton came to El Dorado County in 1980, the young couple had apples in their eyes. But when they learned that their dream of opening up a fruit stand just wasn’t in the picture, they pictured something else … literally.
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Staton Signs was born, and 30 years later, their work can be seen all over El Dorado County.
“We were living in the Bay Area and George was working as a sales rep for Shilling Spices,” recalled Fern, 59. “He came home to me and our two small girls and said, ‘I think we should move to Placerville. One of my clients said they need an open-air fruit and vegetable stand.’
“Before I knew it, we had sold our home, loaded the babies into our Granada, stuffed our meager belongings into a U-Haul and headed to Placerville. We had heard about a small operation called Apple Hill, but our Realtor assured us that it was just a group of farmers who sold applies in the fall.”
So the Statons switched to Plan B where George would stay home with the children and Fern would open a boutique. It wasn’t meant to be, however.
“After about a month of being home with the babies, the community discovered that George could paint signs,” Fern said. “And before long, our daughter Brooke, who was only a year old at the time, was crawling around the boutique, sucking the labels off the clothes. Jessie, who was 2 at the time, found out how to open the door to the shop and had to be chased down and brought back inside, where she found other ways to stop me from working.
“I finally gave up and sold the shop. Meanwhile, George’s occasional sign-making had turned into a full-time business.”
So Fern stayed home and George went to work, with the couple soon moving to Pollock Pines, where they live today. George, 63, keeps the business thriving from there, with his office and shop handy in a pine-studded setting that reflects the simple life the couple says epitomizes their business philosophy.
“There are no pretensions with Staton Signs. What you see is what you get,” said George, standing near a gorgeous “mellow yellow” Ford truck that he recently restored. “And our customers are more than that — we’ve become friends over the years. I give them a little more than they expect, and if they’ll let me think outside the box, it’s very fulfilling for me, too.”
Longtime Staton Signs customer Ron Thompson, owner of Thompson’s Toyota, Thompson’s Buick-GMC in Placerville and Thompson’s Certified Center in Cameron Park, said he lets George Staton have a free rein when it comes to designing the auto dealership’s advertising signage.
“I’ve been dealing with George for more than 20 years — I call him the ‘Crisis Sign Company’ because I’m always calling him when I need a sign right away,” said Thompson, 64, who lives in Apple Hill. “He gives excellent service and he’s good at getting things done … and done well.
“If I have a certain kind of campaign in mind, George will lend his creative touch to it. I’ve had hundreds upon hundreds of signs done by George Staton.”
Staton Signs includes computer generated work, with a customized flair that is easily recognizable as being a Staton sign.
“When we first started doing signs here in El Dorado County, occasionally we’d see a four-by-eight sign out in a field, advertising a parcel, and we would tell the kids, ‘Daddy did that sign,’” Fern recalled. “Now you can see George’s signature all over the county. Sometimes it’s easier to say ‘We didn’t do that one’ than to point out the signs that we did do.”
Services at Staton Signs include architectural, electrical, channel letters, real estate, vinyl banners, plastics, magnetics … the list seems endless. The Statons also do customized machine embroidery, so call them for a quick quote on having your logo put on company shirts or jackets.
In addition to creating attractive and functional signs, the Statons have been busy giving back to the community, with memberships in Kiwanis, Rotary and church groups.
“We give back, help where we can,” said George, who is a fully licensed contractor.
“That’s what 30 years in the community gets you, faithful clients who call you year after year,” Fern added. “Most of those clients have become close friends.
“When we get a call that one of them is going out of business, it hurts. We can’t help but remember how excited they were when they first hung their sign. More often than not, though, those same clients call within a year, ready to begin a new adventure in business, and we get to be a part of their joy again.”
The Statons now offer thermal wraps, the fascinating artwork that can cover vehicle windows with advertising (or what have you) and still allow the driver and passengers to see perfectly clearly from inside.