Love of graphic design guides business decision


Kevin and Shannon Buttermore took ownership of Gator Sign Shop in Gilford last month, and say that it will be a welcome complement to their other business, Hi-Gloss Boat Restoration. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Gator Sign Shop now owned by Gilford couple who see synergy with Hi-Gloss Boat Restoration

By Adam Drapcho, The Laconia Daily Sun

GILFORD — Kevin and Shannon Buttermore are seasoned business owners, as he has owned Hi-Gloss Boat Restoration for five years and she ran her own hair salon. By taking over Gator Signs from prior owner Mike Mello, the Buttermores are returning to what was a first love for both of them: graphic design.

Kevin will continue to run his boat restoration business, while Shannon is leaving the shears and hairspray behind to operate Gator Signs, located on Gilford East Drive.

“This was my first passion,” Shannon said.

Shannon grew up in Belfast, Maine, and met Kevin, a Laconia native, while they were both studying graphic design. But both were diverted from that interest by a need to put food on the table for the family they soon created. She started cutting hair, and he got into the mortgage industry.

Kevin’s career in lending was upset in 2007 by the national mortgage fiasco. As a means to make a few dollars until he could find his next line of work, he approached the owner of Hi-Gloss Boat Restoration, a business he had worked for as a teenager. After a few more years of working there as an employee, he ended up buying the shop.

A boat restorer has a frequent need for the services of a sign shop, it turns out. Kevin developed a close business relationship with Gator Signs, which provided him with bow numbers and other vinyl lettering and graphics for his antique boat clients.

So, when Mello told Kevin that he was looking to sell the business so that he and his wife, Maureen, could open the Mello Moose Coffee House in Meredith, he brought the idea to Shannon. The Buttermores took over last month.

Kevin and Shannon expect that the two businesses will complement one another. The sign shop can provide lettering for the boat shop, while Kevin’s wood shop can build custom signs for Shannon’s clients.

Gator Signs has built its customer base through services as a vinyl sign printer, which leaves plenty of ways for the new owners to expand. But, for now, they plan to continue operating as Mello had. Gator Signs makes marquees for realtors, towns, magnetic signs for contractors’ trucks, A-frame signs, wall decals, political signs, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and can facilitate custom-embroidered T-shirts.

“Right now, we’re going to continue to run it as it is,” said Kevin.

“We’re still going to offer what (Mello) offered, the pricing isn’t going to change for the most part,” Shannon said. “We’ve got a lot of different ideas and a lot of ways we can expand – eventually.”

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