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North Charleston flag makers lean into their families’ military roots as business grows


North Charleston flag makers lean into their families’ military roots as business grows

May 24, 2024 | 4:20 pm ET
By Jessica Holdman
North Charleston flag makers lean into their families’ military roots as business grows
Left to right, Max Berry, Katie Lyon and Wes Lyon, in 2018 founded Allegiance Flag Supply in North Charleston. (Provided by Allegiance)

NORTH CHARLESTON — Katie Lyon grew up with an American flag hanging outside her childhood home in Charleston.

Her family flew it to honor her grandfather, Henry Morgan, a naval officer stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941 when Japan launched a surprise attack on the naval base that pulled the United States into World War II. The 23-year-old husband and father would survive and return to his home in Baltimore, Maryland, becoming the county fire chief.

“Patriotism and first responders and the military community has just always been near and dear to my heart personally,” Lyon recently said told the SC Daily Gazette.

So, when she married, she and her husband wanted a flag for their own home. But the flags they bought wore out quickly in the South Carolina weather, requiring replacement every three or four months, and were often made in factories outside the U.S.

It’s what inspired Lyon, along with her husband Wes Lyon and childhood friend Max Berry, to found Allegiance Flag Supply in 2018.

Berry, too, had grandfathers who had served in the military and shared the couple’s patriotic values.

The business started in the Lyons’ garage, at first working with a third-generation, family-owned textile factory in Georgia to make their product. Just ahead of Memorial Day, the company celebrated its fifth expansion in three years, hand sewing high-quality flags in house at its North Charleston facility.

Allegiance is investing $6.3 million to expand into a 24,000-square-foot site, with plans to grow to 144 total employees over the next five years. The company is seeking to hire seamstresses and packaging workers as demand for their flags has risen above 2,000 shipments daily across the country and to U.S. military bases abroad, Katie Lyon said.

“South Carolina is proud to be the home of a company that manufactures America’s symbol of freedom,” said state Commerce Secretary Harry Lightsey. “We are thrilled Allegiance Flag Supply decided to expand and further grow its presence in our state.”

Lyon also points to South Carolina’s history as a leading textile state, before companies shuttered mills to move operations overseas starting in the ’70s.

“Playing a small part in bringing some of those jobs back means absolutely everything to us,” she said.

Allegiance makes its flags with heavy nylon fabric, double stitched to prevent them from unraveling. It designs flag poles to rotate so flags don’t tangle. The company trifolds its flags military-style and ships them in triangle-shaped boxes.

Allegiance’s flag sales tend to spike around holidays such as Veteran’s Day and Independence Day.

And on Memorial Day. Lyon said Allegiance has had customers purchase flags in memory of military family members who died while serving.

Allegiance also partners with several nonprofits that serve veterans, emergency personnel and their families. They donate flags or a portion of sales to groups such as Boot Campaign for soldiers facing post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, Stop Soldier Suicide and Folds of Honor scholarships for family of fallen and disabled service members.

Lyon said Allegiance also hopes to expand its other product offerings, such as clothing and leather goods.

“There’s just there’s so many more American-made products to explore,” she said. “We’re not done yet, that’s for sure.”