History About The National Flag Company
In 1869, Walton Craig, Sr. and Englishman Frederick Spencer started Spencer & Craig Printing Works. Initially specializing in printing, they only employed two seamstresses who made flags to order. By 1894 flags became their primary product and on May 1, 1894, they changed the name of their business to The National Flag Company.
They continued to be known for producing all types of flags and patriotic decorations. In 1909, The National Flag Company manufactured the unofficial largest U.S. flag ever made to date. It was 80 x 160 feet, completely made of wool and weighed 750 pounds. It was purchased by the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Thirty years later, in 1940, The National Flag Company had survived The Great Depression and also managed to keep their heads above water during the disastrous flooding of the Ohio River in 1937. The water reached the first two floors of the building located at 1012 Flint Street in the Queensgate area of Cincinnati. P.J. Tracey, who had been with National Flag for over 40 years, was company president. They now had close to 40 employees with an average of 25 years’ experience. The secretary at this time also had nearly 40 years’ experience. His name was George Schaller.
George Schaller started at National Flag in 1903 as a stock boy. His flag knowledge and dedication grew over the next forty five years. His commitment to flag making was rewarded in 1948, when at the age of 60, he became the president of The National Flag Company. Nicknamed “The Boss”, George led the company for the next 27 years. Retirement was not in George Schaller’s vocabulary. He was still coming into work every day to direct the flag making process at age 87. In 1975, in an interview with The Cincinnati Post, his nephew, Arthur Schaller was quoted, “Uncle George is the driving force behind The National Flag Company”. After a lengthy 73 years of service, George Schaller retired on October 30, 1976.
Arthur Schaller was born on July 22, 1931. He made his flag making debut on June 1, 1949. Arthur took a leave of absence to serve his country and the flag he loved as a sergeant in the United States Army during the Korean War. Upon his return, he renewed his career at National Flag. As his uncle before him, Arthur had to work his way up through the company. He started as a stock boy but also worked as cutter, production manager, office clerk, office manager and vice president. Arthur became president in 1976.
Around this time, the City of Cincinnati was implementing a Liberty-Dalton Urban Renewal program and forced National Flag to move out of the old Flint Street building. Their new home was just a few blocks away at 1819 Freeman Avenue in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood where it still reside today.
President Art Schaller remained the much beloved and respected leader of The National Flag Company for 20 years. The company’s success was due in large part to his devotion to the company and every individual employee. Over the years, he always made sure to give credit to his dedicated work staff. He appreciated the excellent work done by his seamstresses, basters, artists, pressman, flag folders and shipping clerks and made sure they knew it. The workers at National Flag returned his loyalty. During the 1970’s and 1980’s again the average employee’s length of service was nearly 20 years. Art also remembered what the U.S. flag stood for and who it represented. In 1983, he accepted the American Award for his continued support of Veteran’s groups.
Arthur and his wife Kay had 5 children who all worked at National Flag at some point in their lives. Larry and Art Jr. were the only two that made it their careers. Arthur Sr. was ready to pass on ownership of The National Flag Company to the next generation of Schallers. He retired on January 1, 1996 at which time Larry Schaller became president and Art Schaller, Jr. vice president.
Larry Schaller, a CPA, had left a prestigious accounting firm to come to work in the family business in 1985. He worked alongside his father in the office before taking over as president. Art Jr. has always been a flagman, working in the factory at National Flag since his high school graduation in 1979. With Larry’s business background & Art. Jr.’s extensive knowledge of flag production, they made a good team.
The brothers were immediately put to the test by a changing dynamic in the flag industry. Internet companies providing imported products at rock bottom prices and a weakening U.S. economy created a challenging environment. Through these lean years, The National Flag Company survived by staying true to the values that had brought them this far, a top quality product and superior customer service.
In 2005, Larry left National Flag to pursue other ventures and Art Jr. took over as President. His life long passion for the family business was evident by his energy and determination to bring National Flag through the current recession. With his leadership and dedication, The National Flag Company has maintained its excellent reputation in the flag industry and also expanded some operations. In addition to their exceptional sewing, silk screening and printed muslin departments, they have added a digital vinyl printer and a complete flagpole installation & repair department.
Art Schaller Jr. considers himself fortunate to have spent his career working with his family to manufacture the best possible flags and banners right here in Cincinnati, Ohio. He hopes to continue the Schaller legacy and eventually pass The National Flag Company on to his son and 4th generation family member, current General Manager, Artie III.
The Factory In Motion
Our number one goal here at National Flag is to make you, the customer happy. Our way of doing that is by making the people who make your flag happy and healthy. The employees here certainly take pride in the flags we produce, and it shows.
Not everyone can become a flag maker. It takes Skill, Patience, Flexibility, and Pride. We have employees that have been here for 15, 20, 30 + years. You have heard the saying, “they don’t make them like they used to.”? Well here at National, We Do!! Our flags are still made essentially the way we made them 100 years ago.