In the summer of 1966, APCO’s founder Ron Cobb was studying art at Georgia State University in Atlanta while working full-time and also serving in the Army Reserves. A childhood friend in Ron’s East Atlanta neighborhood approached with an opportunity to purchase a defunct engraving company which was a small subsidiary of a large provider of commercial building alarm systems. That larger company was called APCO, or Alarm Products Company, answering one of the most frequently asked questions, “What does APCO stand for?” Oddly enough, nothing to do with signage or architectural products!

Ron and partner purchased APCO on August 1st, 1966, a decision that has had a positive impact on thousands of us within the extended APCO family ever since.

The Early Years

With long days and nights and very little profit during the first several years, Ron’s business partner had enough, so Ron purchased his shares of the company and continued putting long hours into trying to grow the business.

The early years were spent taking on virtually any type of graphics project just to keep revenue coming in, but in the mid 1970’s, APCO shifted toward more of an architectural signage focus, a movement that was taking shape on the west coast. During that time, APCO also became one of the early members and supporters of the young SEGD organization (Society for Experiential Graphic Design) and started down an architectural signage and graphic design path leading us to where we are today.

The Birth of the IM System

In 1979, seeing the need in the market for a sign system that could be easily maintained, Ron designed and introduced what was then a ground-breaking, injection-molded product called the IM System, arguably the first complete modular sign system in the US. The IM System went on to win the 1980’s Design of the Decade Award for product design excellence from the Industrial Designer’s Society of America (IDSA) and helped pave the way for APCO to develop a host of other innovative modular sign systems during the past 40 years. Product design is still our driving force and passion.

Family Owned   

APCO has grown and evolved a lot since 1966, but some things have never changed. We are still a family business, still headquartered very close to downtown Atlanta, and we still have the very unique, non-corporate culture and entrepreneurial spirit that was instilled by our founder over 50 years ago.