Today marks our 20th year in business. I purchased Custom Flag Company with my dad 20 years ago. We acquired the company from a sweet couple, Don and Pat Starr who ran CFC for 15 years. Wow, how times have changed.
We began the journey in the living room of my house. With a computer, a yellow page listing, and a brick that we called a mobile phone and started doing business. It was just me and my pops. I remember the first day, Pat Starr teaching me the world of flags. It was that day I found out a truck is not a one you drive, but a part on the top of a flagpole. I also found out the United States of America flag was only a small part of the flag industry, there are so many parts, fabrics, and pieces. I also remember our accounting system, Pat was training me to track expenses on a green ledger page. That weekend I purchased our first computer and accounting software.
Since US flags are flying at half staff today, I am reminded of our first flag lowering. The Columbine High School massacre occurred less than six months into our ownership on April 20, 1999. The tragedy hit hard as it was just 20 miles away for us and our first lowering, we are hired to lower flags and raise flags, when ordered by the President or Governor. Each and every lowering since that April day is emotional. As each flag is lowered, we are reminded of tragedy, life, death, family. Lowering flags to half-staff represents loss. Each life matters. Each flag matters.
As business grew, we hired a part-time service tech. We are blessed to have amazing employees, now and then. Our employees become a member of the CFC family. My personal mission as a business owner is provide employees an environment for growth, professional and personal. Each employee leaves a mark here, a legacy we do not take for granted.
September 11, 2001, the next huge milestone. How does the Alan Jackson song go? Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day? As owners of a flag company, our world completely changed that September. Words cannot describe the days, weeks, and months following the terrorist attack. My life was blur for the next several months. Overnight we went from a staff of 2.5 to six employees. As businesses around us were suffering, our business was booming. Everyone wanted an American flag. Our nation was painted in red, white, and blue.
It goes without explanation that we outgrew my house pretty quickly after 9/11. The search began for a new home for Custom Flag Company. We found the perfect building, renovated it, and moved into our current headquarters in 2004. At the time, the place was huge, so much room! Now, we get creative with space for a functional work space.
Over the years we have encountered strong economic conditions, the great recession, and everything in between. The rock that’s been our foundation are our customers. Today I looked back at our very first invoice, a home builder, who is still our client today. The loyalty and professionalism of our client base does not go unnoticed. We appreciate you! THANK YOU!
Today, like your kids’ birthday you relive their birth story, I am reflecting on the last 20 years:
* My dad retired in 2014 and I was able to purchase his share of the company.
* I used to be the young one in the company, now I am the old one.
* DEX Yellow pages are gone, now our advertising budget consists of digital advertising.
* We did not have a website in 1998, now our website is our major lead generator.
* Our email account was dial-up via AOL and rarely used. Our primary communication is email.
* We used to attend networking events, now we connect via social media platforms.
Change makes us strong. Change keeps us fresh. Change is good. Could you imagine if we resisted change and we still did our accounting on a green ledger page, invested in yellow page advertising, and resisted a website? We wouldn’t be where we are today.
With all the changes in 20 years, some things do remain constant:
* We value our customers and are committed to exceptional customer experience.
* Our American Flags are 100% Made in the USA.
* We strive to make a difference in our community.
* We believe in open, transparent communication, to our customers, employees, suppliers, and trade partners.
Thank you for helping us reach our 20-year mark. We look forward to an exciting future!