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American Flags, Born in the USA

Salena Zito on

CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- Inside the Allegiance Flag Company's facilities, it is hard not to notice that the employees making the flags reflect the beauty and diversity that has always been the promise and purpose of our country. They use their skills to make American flags in America, perfectly encapsulating the three young owners' mission in starting this company.

In short, they set out to make a flag where every stitch, hem and thread would be made in the United States. And they've done it.

Owners Katie and Wes Lyon and their childhood friend Max Berry said it was an idea that came from lots of late-night conversations. They wanted to be their own bosses, and they realized that most flags in big-box stores and local hardware stores are made in China -- and not very well made, at that.

From the small flags you wave at parades to the ones that hang from telephone poles in small towns across the country to the ones you and your neighbors hang from your homes, there are 150 million American flags sold in the U.S. every year. Of that number, nearly $7 million of those sales go to other countries, in particular China, according to WalletHub.

That includes flags flown at the Capitol. This led a bipartisan group of senators to introduce a bill requiring that the federal government buy only American flags that are produced entirely on U.S. soil.

The federal government can currently purchase flags that contain 50% American-made materials, according to a press release from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

 

Manchin said in his release that in 2017, the U.S. imported 10 million American flags. All but 50,000 of those came from China. Other sponsors of the bill included Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rick Scott, R-Fla.

Wes Lyon said the origins of Allegiance Flag Company began at the University of South Carolina, where he met his wife, Katie. The two settled here after college. Berry came back into the picture while attending business school with Wes Lyon at the College of Charleston. "I told Katie one day when I came home from class, I met this really cool guy that I really like a lot who's actually one of my favorite people in the class, Max Berry," he said. "And she's like, 'Whoa, Max Berry? I went to middle school with him!'"

That serendipitous moment led to lots of long talks between the three of them about what they wanted to do with their lives and their careers. All three were searching for a greater purpose while pursuing that American dream of running their own business.

"We all bought houses around the same time, and we live really close to each other," Berry said. "And one of the first things that we did when we bought our houses was buy an American flag to hang off of our porch."

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