Craig Kempthorne’s work is extremely seen across the Flathead Valley, despite the fact that his small, one-man Kila firm retains a low profile.
His Flathead Flagpole Co. is answerable for putting in poles and flags at residential, business and authorities websites all through the area. As the corporate’s founder and sole worker, Kempthorne likes to maintain the highlight on his flags and what they signify.
“Fly your colours,” is his unofficial motto.
Kempthorne’s firm handles each step within the strategy of elevating a flag. He lays the concrete, erects the pole and provides the supplies. And he can fulfill all types of customized orders — from specifically made flags to poles mounted on many various surfaces.
It is necessary to Kempthorne that each buyer has the chance to get their supreme show.
“Everybody does it their very own method,” he mentioned. “It is fairly superior to have the ability to provide that service.”
KEMPTHORNE’S RESUME ranges from docks on Flathead Lake to Glacier Nationwide Park’s Apgar Customer Heart. He is the valley’s solely official supplier for nationwide producer Eder Flag; the subsequent closest supplier is in Helena.
In a typical yr, he installs someplace between 40 and 60 flags.
Kempthorne was working as a firefighter in Illinois when he began the flag enterprise in 1993.
Coming from a navy household, he was impressed by the wonder he noticed within the American flag.
“We’ve got probably the most lovely flag on the earth,” he mentioned. “True patriots wish to present their patriotism.”
At first, flagpoles have been only a facet gig for Kempthorne. It was just a few years earlier than the enterprise actually took off and he was capable of retire from firefighting.
That day lastly got here in 2010. Kempthorne departed Illinois to comply with his childhood ardour for the American West, relocating to northwestern Montana.
He traveled along with his trailer and flagpole gear, staying with pals he had made and dealing on a path crew within the North Fork whereas he bought established.
“It was gradual to start with,” he recalled.
Not so anymore.
THE FLATHEAD Flagpole Co. is now a full-time job for Kempthorne. He stays busy with a number of installations day-after-day of the week through the busy summer season season.
“It has been fairly good the previous couple of years,” he mentioned.
Final yr was particularly busy.
The expansion within the valley and the election yr despatched demand for flags sky-high, he mentioned. And enterprise has continued at a gradual clip this yr, although he mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic has sophisticated issues.
“This yr flags are an enormous downside,” he mentioned.
Orders often take 4 to 6 weeks to reach, Kempthorne mentioned. He solely buys from suppliers within the U.S., however in latest months they’ve skilled setbacks attributable to labor and materials shortages.
The scenario not too long ago prompted Kempthorne to discover a new home flag provider. One of many largest points, he mentioned, was a rise within the minimal orders allowed by many producers.
Nonetheless, after virtually 20 years within the trade, Kempthorne is assured he’ll be capable to climate the unexpected challenges.
“I feel as time goes on, it’s going to get higher,” he mentioned.
Reporter Bret Anne Serbin could also be reached at 406-758-4459 or email@example.com.