Supplier Woman of Distinction – Billie Staton, Staton Corporate & Casual
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Mentors are often a major topic of discussion for award winners, and with Billie Staton, owner of Top 40 supplier Staton Corporate & Casual (asi/89380), there was no hesitation when asked who her mentor was: mom. “My mother has always been a role model for me,” Staton says. “She has been blind for most of her life, but that never stopped her from doing what she wanted to do. She is always positive and a delightful person to be with. She taught me that most problems are basically trivial.”
A Baton Rouge native, Staton went to LSU and received degrees in economics and accounting. Two months before graduating, she began her career at Staton as its controller in 1986. “I was a one-person accounting department working for a company that needed my help,” she says. “Six years after joining the company, Ned and I married and I became 50% owner and became involved in all areas of the company.”
On the professional side, Staton credits her husband Ned (Edward) Staton, the company’s founder, with being her most important mentor who taught her everything about the industry. In the 1990s, he pursued other business interests, though he remains her sounding board. “The change has been good for us, as I love the daily challenge and being the ultimate decision-maker for Staton,” she says.
And, it’s working. Staton ranks as the ninth-largest supplier, with $118 million in sales in 2013.
As the leader of such a large company, Staton acknowledges that she hasn’t had to face the traditional obstacles that many women have. “I’ve never experienced any problems in my career by being a woman; it just has not happened to me,” she says. “The opportunities for women –and men – are greater than ever. They range from the entrepreneurial start-up to management positions at multinational, publicly held corporations. Part of my good fortune lies in the nature of our industry. It’s relatively young and the barriers to entry are low. The nature of our industry renders gender mostly irrelevant.”
Staton is highly regarded, and folks that work with her quickly learn she is a gem. Mark Mertens of A4 says this: “Billie has an internal compass that keeps Staton focused while constantly exploring new ideas and products. In an industry that is dominated by large mills, Billie navigates her enterprise with agility and a fair amount of ‘Texas Country Girl’ guile and cunning.”
John Martin of Gildan, who has done business with Staton since 1998, has this to say: “Billie is the consummate professional. She knows all aspects of the imprinted sportswear business from both the decorator side and the promotional products side. She truly understands that any business relationship is a two-way street. She expertly manages the demands of running a company as well as a household.”
On the homefront, Staton is the proud mom of two sons. Oldest son Barrett, a pilot for Cathay Pacific, is married with three children. The youngest, Blaine, will be attending Northeastern University. As for the future, Staton says it’s hard to predict, “but I really like going to work and immersing myself in this company. Ned and I will be empty nesters in three months, and I refuse to guess what he will be up to, but I plan to be right here at Staton Corporate & Casual.” – JC