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CF Flag Co. enters second century of flag making

Graphics | May 1, 2007 | By:

Old Glory sported 45 stars when CF Flag Co. began manufacturing U.S. and state flags in 1898. A lot has changed in more than 100 years of flag making—beyond the addition of five stars to the company’s signature product. The company produces almost every kind of flag imaginable, including flag components, and provides customized, digital printing of one-of-a-kind flags.

“We have learned the value of being in business today, tomorrow, and for the future, and want to stay ahead of the curve,” says print division manager Jon Houser.

Staying ahead of the curve has included transitioning from the silk screening process to digital printing over the last 10 years. The company began by purchasing a printer but outsourced profiling and processing.

“Now we have internalized everything and developed a business relationship with DuPont to guarantee our profiles and our quality,” Houser says.

With DuPont Artistri printers, the company is capable of printing hundreds of yards of flags with unlimited colors in a single day, a feat that was impossible before digital.

“We can now take any file (no longer needs to be Adobe vector art), convert it, rip it, and print it and ship it within 24 hours,” Houser says. “None of this could be done five years ago.”

About 25 percent of the company’s business is custom work. In the past, only about 5 percent involved digital printing, but that has increased to about 15 percent, and the company has set a goal of reaching 25 percent within the next two years, Houser said.

“We are introducing new products and new divisions, using new materials . . . things we could not do before digital printing,” he said. “We are increasing gross sales because of digital printing and growing portions of our existing business because of it.”

CF Flag doesn’t have a minimum order quantity—a customer could purchase a single U.S. flag from the company—and it only private labels its flags, so you won’t find a flag labeled “CF Flag” in your local store.

“We do lose by not having a recognized name in the retail end, but gain from customers who desire to put their label on flags,” Houser explains.

As it enters its second century in business, CF Flag is continually working to optimize what its customers need and require now, and trying to set pace for what will be next, he says.

“We are looking at cheaper fabrics, cheaper inks, and other products that will again change the demand in the flag industry,” Houser says.

Jill C. Lafferty is a freelance writer based in Burnsville, Minn.

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