This year, Fresno's Stanton Office Machine Co. takes the gold. The office equipment company marks its 50th year in business this summer.
The company that started small in downtown Fresno in 1955 has evolved into an award-winning technology that has made technology and customer service its business.
"Our focus is on service. Our goal is to provide the best service after the sale. We're driven for that." said General Manager Bill Kokke. "We sort of have a motto. 'A good deal on the price of equipment is long forgotten if the service is lousy.'"
Art Stanton founded Stanton Office Machine Co,. five decades ago with one type of item to sell.
"I can tell you when he originally started the business. He began by selling calculators to the Internal Revenue Service." said Kokke. "It's changed dramatically from that."
Today, the business features high end office technology.
Longtime Stanton Office Machines Co. employee Ralph Andrade said that after 40 years in the office machine business, Art Stanton retired in 1996 and sold the company to Kokke and two partners. Stanton died a few years after selling the business.
"I worked for Art [Stanton] for about 25 years. He was a good man. He was a smart man. He built the company on his own," said Andrade. "Then the industry started changing and Art's health started failing and he turned the company over to his daughter."
Andrade said that occurred in 1995. The Stanton family then had an important decision to make.
"It was obvious that in order to survive, we needed to change the company or we needed to sell. So they decided to sell." Andrade said.
Kokke and his partners who were working in the office machine industry in Santa Rosa heard Stanton planned to sell and decided to buy the firm. Once Kokke and his associates acquired the business, they made some changes.
"We streamlined. We added more sales and reduced administration. We used our own technology,: Kokke said. "Since we took over the company, we tripled our sales. Mostly we worked really hard. There's no substitute for hard work."
Stanton Office Machine Company has won numerous awards during the years including Minolta's Western Dealer of the Year and as an Elite Dealer named by Office Dealers and Office Solutions magazines. In addition to its main office in Fresno, the company has had a second office in Visalia since 1975.
Kokke credits two key employees with aiding in the company's success.
"they were here before me and were obviously instrumental in the growth." said Kokke of Service Manager Rick Morris and Sales Manager Mike Mosby.
Business has been so brisk that Stanton Office Machine Co. upgraded its facilities 2 years ago by moving from its previous 10,000 sq ft building on Ashlan and Valentine avenues to a facility that is twice that size nearby on North Selland Avenue.