|Catering to Commercial|
up. Though he knew one day he would take the reins from his father, Fontana sensed he must go his own way for awhile.
He literally "bumped into" his new occupation. "One night I was involved in a car accident, and when I went to the police department to file a report, I saw an application. I filled it in, passed all the tests and they hired me." Even during his years as a police officer, Fontana continued to be involved in the family business. "I've always loved this work. Even when I didn't work here, I'd come down on my off hours and help out. It's so diversified here--cutting, polishing, talking with people. I just had to do something on my own first," he explained. He stayed on the force about six years, until his father announced a desire to retire.
To get the firm's feet wet in the commercial waters, Fontana took on a few highly visible public projects. One of the first involved the Portola Discovery Site at San Francisco Bay. In honor of the 200th anniversary of Portola's discovery, the city sponsored a large celebration and donated a seven-ton monument made by V. Fontana.
"We also made a corresponding sign to go with it, which really put our
name in public view," added Fontana. "Subsequent to that, we contacted the chambers of commerce for several cities in this area and asked for ideas of who might be looking to have granite signs made.|
"From there, people saw the kind of work we could do, and our commercial end really took off." His firm now makes signs for high schools, individual communities and public buildings, such as banks and churches.
Another successful--even explosive--way Fontana has attracted business was by taking a photograph of an impressive project. He made 500 reprints of the photo, and sent them to cabinet makers, architects and interior decorators.
"We explained this was a sample of our work, and to call us if we could be of help sometime," Fontana said. This brainstorm almost backfired, however, when the company was inundated with too many calls. All requests simply could not be met. Now, Fontana does little promotion, opting instead to notify the media periodically about unusual projects his company has done.
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