At Mission Framing Customers Come First

Expert framer John Landon is taking over operations at Mission Framing as Olaf and Helga Weidekat prepare to retire. Photos by Harry Yadav

Considering they had no experience in custom framing when they opened the first installation of Mission Framing in South Pasadena 29 years ago, departing owners Olaf and Helga Weidekat have come quite a way.

As they prepare in the coming months to turn the business over to expert framer John Landon, who has worked for the shop for the past four years, the couple is proud to have built such a beloved framing business.

The key to their success, Helga insists, is the value they place on customer service. At Mission Framing, staff is always willing to go the extra mile.

Departing owners Helga and Olaf Weidekat pose with a photo from when they first opened their shop 29 years ago.

“Let’s say a customer brings in a poster rolled up in a tube and when they come to pick up the framed poster it doesn’t fit into their car,” Helga said. “In that case, we’ll put it ours, follow them home and even sometimes help them hang it. And of course, at no charge.”

Olaf often makes a medical analogy when discussing his framing process to emphasize the individual nature of each project.

“What’s important is that one achieves cooperation with the customer,” he said. “In most cases, we don’t know the interior of their home or their office. I like to say we put the patient on the table, that is the picture, we look at all our options, and go from there.”

The attentiveness of Mission Framing’s staff to clients has paid off in longstanding working relationships and a loyal clientele. “The absolute best frame shop in all of SoCal,” writes one reviewer on Yelp. “Not only is the framing done here museum quality, but they are wonderful at helping you create the perfect combo of frame, mat, etc. to enhance your piece. And they never try and upsell you on anything. They only care about making your item look the very best it can be. I have to drive over 45 min to get to Mission and it’s worth it every time!”

Mission Framing’s motto, “No Job Too Small,” is a point of pride for the shop. “Not only do we do custom framing,” Helga said, “if somebody has a big piece, big picture, big frame, we can cut it down to fit.”

Quality is always of the utmost importance as well because, according to Helga, “in framing the best advertising is the frame hanging in a customer’s home or business. You can’t beat good quality.”

Originally a Fast Frame franchise located two blocks north on Fair Oaks Avenue, the store adopted the name Mission Framing when it changed locations in 1996. Machines purchased from the franchise still remain in use in a backroom workshop where frames are cut, nailed and finished. In the retail area at the front of the shop, the walls are adorned with frames of all colors, materials and sizes, too many to count.

“You should see our home,” Helga said recently, “it’s even worse there.”

Married now for 47 years and together for 51, the German couple settled into their current home in Eagle Rock in 1989 and have spent nearly all of the almost three decades since fully immersed in their business. At first, they worked seven days a week. After all these years, they’ve transitioned to six.

“All in all, it’s been a good trip,” Olaf said. “We’re looking back a little bit proud, because this is our baby. The business is going well and we could do this for the next fifty years but the clock is ticking and we are not 25 anymore. You don’t want to do this job on a walker. John is an experienced framer and has been part of our team the last few years, so he will be very successful.” 

Mission Framing is located at 1501 Mission St. in South Pasadena. Its hours are Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (626) 799-3445.

Mission Framing Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 6.29.18.