Many companies had to close or lay off people in the aftermath of that horrible day. One company in Huntsville, however, had to lock its doors for another reason--CF Flag Company became inundated with customers looking for flags.
David Kreiger Sr., Sales Manager, said that they hadn't seen anything like this since Desert Storm. He looked back at his records and found that although the people thought the Desert Storm rush had lasted six months, his records show that it had only lasted two months.
CF Flag Company is one of the three companies in the United States that makes the official American flag. Annin and Valley Forge Flag Companies are the other two that supply the country with flags. CF Flag Company started making flags in 1898 in Chicago. In the mid 70's, the owner moved his electronics company and his flag company to Huntsville. Today the company is owned by Jack and Judy Houser. Debbie Russell is General Manager.
CF Flag had to lock its doors because they can only sell their flags to flag resellers. The day I was there to tour the factory, David said that one man had driven 125 miles to buy a flag. He had to turn him away. Even though they are patriotic, some people have become very rude and obnoxious when CF Flag Company won't sell them a flag.
The terrorist attack caught CF Flag off-guard in September. This was suppose to be the slow time of year for flag companies and seasonal help had just been let go. The company usually speeds up production in December in anticipation of the spring sales for the three major flag holidays of Memorial Day, Flag Day, and the 4th of July. CF Flag employs between 250 to 290 employees, depending on the time of year. On September 11th, the company was operating four days a week with ten hour shifts. After the tragedy, they had to step up their production to 5 days a week at 12 hours a day. That is top production. Employees have to be trained, explained Mr. Kreiger, and by the time they could hire and train new people, the crisis would be over.
The flag company tried to meet demand as best they can. After September 11th, Kreiger was receiving 100 emails an hour. Most of those orders were from individuals who wanted only a few flags. CF Flag Company responded to those emails as quickly as possible advising people where they could buy flags from retailers. The phone lines were barraged with calls and Kreiger said he had to hire people just to man the phone lines.
Some people have asked if Kreiger raised his prices when the demand for flags became so high. Kreiger quickly reassured people that he doesn't believe in profiteering from the national tragedy. He did not raised his prices and is tried to provide flags to the resellers as quickly as possible so they could get the flags in the store and citizens could buy them.
David Kreiger said that CF Flag Company donated and sent flags to the firefighters in New York. CF Flag Company makes over a million flags a year. Their biggest customer is the United States government, mostly from the Senate and the House of Representatives. They bid on contracts along with the other two flag companies.
Another big customer is the Veterans Administration. In 2001, it was estimated that 590,000 veterans would die and the need for interment or casket flags would partially be filled by CF Flag Company.
The flags must meet government specifications and are inspected by government officials. The flags are sewed with 8 to 12 stitches per inch and are made of nylon or polyester II. The stars are embroidered by a company in South Carolina. The stripes are lock stitched. The stripes are cut from bolts of fabric and then stitched together.
Although it was a little chaotic right after the September 11th tragedy, CF Flag Company tried to meet the public's demand for the American flag and also keep production going for their 32,000 loyal and regular customers. CF Flag Company makes other flags besides the American flag. Some of the other orders CF Flag fills include State and Territorial Flags, Flags of the World, historical flags, military flags, corporate flags, auto dealers flags, racing flags, NFL team flags, parade banners, Christmas and novelty flags and banners.