PG&E's New Bayhill Sign a Weighty Issue
by Dave Madden
COLMA -- There are signs and there are SIGNS!
Falling in the latter category is the monument sign recently installed outside Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'scustomer service center in San Bruno's Bayhill Office Park.
It's not so much the size -- 7 feet long, 22 inches thick and 3 feet tall -- as the weight. It tips the scales at 6,000 pounds and had to be lowered onto its own foundation with a small crane.
Built by V. Fontana & Co., the Colma firm probably best known for its work on cemetery headstones, the sign is made of concrete, sided in California granite. It was fashioned over six weeks by Fontana craftsmen Pete Masnada, Ray Ward and Ron Del Carlo.
"It's somewhat unusual in that it gives the appearance of being solid granite, yet was built for half of what a piece of granite this size would cost," said Mark Fontana, third-generation proprietor of the company.
Not only is granite pleasing to the eye, Fontana said, but it withstands the worst nature and man can throw at it, from salt air to a vandal's spray paint.
"I wouldn't say its indestructible, but it's awfully tough to mar it," he said. Jobs like the PG&E sign are becoming more frequent. The company has done elaborate engraving for Stanford University's Green Library and produced granite surface plates for mounting instruments and conducting experiments at the Lawrence Livermore Lab in Berkeley.
"Were kind of unique. We do everything from cemetery monuments to kitchen countertops in our plant," Fontana said of the 20,000-square-foot factory in Colma.
Established in 1921, V. Fontana is amongh the North County's oldest businesses, was started by Valerio Fontana, carried on by his son Elio, and now run Elio's son, Mark.