From the little blue building downtown to the people who opened its doors, Zuni Signs is an iconic Evergreen business. Todd Benbow became its latest owner in 2016, and his main goal is preserving that history and what it means to be a local business in Evergreen.
“I’m an Evergreen guy,” says Todd, who is native to the mountain town. “The sign business is secondary to me—it’s more about being a thread woven into the fabric of Evergreen and spending all my time in the place I love living.”
Zuni Signs was originally the brainchild of Evergreen legend John McKenna, who began carving wooden signs to make a living in Evergreen after his van broke down off of I-70. As most people know, he never left, and instead plugged into local music and business. His original wooden sign is still housed at the Zuni Signs shop: “The Sign Man – Quality Arts Since 1976.” Vicki Renfro, who had worked in the shop, eventually purchased the business with her partner, Ed Bischoff. The two were known for carrying on the tradition of rustic wooden signs, which can be spotted all over town, and especially in established residential areas.
When Todd became the new Zuni Signs owner in 2016, after years of experience in the sign industry, he wasn’t a stranger to anyone—or Zuni’s history. “I wanted to take the business that was already here and not change a thing,” he explained, “just continue to grow it up a bit. For me, it’s about serving Evergreen and the mountain communities the way that Zuni has always done.”
Todd’s previous sign experience reached even international clients, and his sense for the industry coupled with his intentional commitment to the community quickly equaled a growth trajectory for Zuni Signs. The business has added many staff members, all Evergreen locals, and has expanded the list of services to incorporate not only wooden signs (which they still produce!) but other promotional items, apparel, vehicle wraps and large-scale projects including electrical signage. Todd views this not as a plan for business growth, but rather community involvement. “We’re still a small business serving a small community,” says Todd. “We’ve expanded Zuni’s offerings to match the needs of the community for people’s homes, businesses and vehicles.”
Todd’s expanded staff has more than 100 years of experience among them, and this includes graphic design and technological knowledge. Word has gotten out: Even as a small shop, Zuni’s client base has grown to incorporate many clients in Denver, along the Front Range, and even some national accounts. “Our philosophy is, we say yes,” explains Todd. “We’ll do anything signs and graphics related.” But always with a focus on the community.
For example, recently Zuni completed a new scoreboard for the Evergreen High School baseball team. Not only was everything designed and installed in-house, Todd and his team rallied other local partners to gift labor costs back to the team. “We figured out a way to make it happen with a few other partners in the community; teamed up together and made sure that the baseball team got their sign.”
Zuni Signs is an integral part of our mountain area life. It’s a perfect blend of embracing where you’ve come from and simple hard work with dedication to craft and developments that can benefit everyone. “Everyone knows we’re in the little blue building,” says Todd. “We’ve actually grown and moved all of our production into a commercial space on Bryant Drive, but we still occupy this building for offices and meetings with customers. It’s where we’ve always been.”
It’s a loyalty and appreciation that is catching. Todd and his team love their work and love their community, and in turn, they’re loved back. “When I ask my employees what they like most about Zuni, they say they’ve never been at a company where every time they make a sign, deliver a sign, install a sign, they get so many smiles. They love making people smile.”
For your graphics and printing needs or to learn more about Zuni Signs, visit zunisigns.com or call 303.670.8952.