Our 150th Anniversary - A History of Gates Flag & Banner
Anniversaries are extremely momentous occasions, especially for small businesses. Whether you're celebrating your first five years, reaching the honorable 50th, or the incredibly impressive 100th, any anniversary is worthy of celebration! It's a testament to all the hard work you've done and the impact you've left on the area you serve. Through both World Wars, the Great Depression, September 11th, and every other trying time in between, our family has done everything possible to continue serving the American people when they needed us most.
That being said, we're incredibly honored and grateful to have served our community for the past 150 years! We understand the dedication it takes to operate for as long as we have, so we're devoting this month's newsletter to the history of our company, the evolution of America since 1870, and to the past generations of the Gates family who laid the foundation for what our business is today.
It all started on July 8, 1870. Ulysses S. Grant was our President, the US Dept. of Justice was founded a week prior, and Wright Gates opened up his wooden ladder and flagpole manufacturing company in Brooklyn, NY.
At the turn of the century, the company moved to River St. in Paterson, NJ. Now headed by Clarence Verplanck Gates, the aptly-named C.V. Gates Ladders & Poles would celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1920, and in 1925 the business was moved to what would become its longtime home: the corner of 21st Ave and Market St. in Paterson, NJ.
The Market St. location was built from the ground up by Clarence, and was tailored exclusively for the Gates family and their company. It featured a front showroom, a manufacturing area in the rear, and a gorgeous apartment upstairs where Clarence and his wife, Margaret, would raise their family. Clarence saw a lot of potential in the Paterson area, and his ambitious prospects would forever change the history of our company.
During our time in Paterson, the Gates Ladder Co. flourished like never before. For decades, Gates was the place to go for high-quality ladders, which were in especially high demand during the post-WWII housing & construction boom.
However, our long-time customers still came to us and spread the word about our flags and flagpoles, keeping the structure and offerings of the original Gates business in full operation.
Our 75th anniversary in 1945 was celebrated alongside the end of WWII, but was suddenly shattered by Clarence's unexpected passing. Determined to carry on her husband's legacy, especially as America started a new chapter in its history, Margaret became the new President of the Gates Ladder Company.
Margaret, a very active member of the Zonta Club and Commissioner of the Great Falls throughout the fifties, would head the company for the next 40 years, while her son William would manage the day-to-day operations.
William "Bill" Gates was a WWII Navy veteran who was extremely active in the North Jersey area. While he held many titles across numerous boards and organizations in his time, he is well-remembered as past president of the Paterson Rotary Club, district governor of Rotary International District 7490, a proud member of VFW Post 1931 and American Legion Post 1000. He would go on to take his family's ambitions of success and fulfill them tenfold. Bill began a new chapter for The Gates Company, where the focus was now more aimed at flags, flagpoles, and banners.
By the end of 1980, after settling into our current location in Clifton, NJ, Gates was known throughout the tri-state area as one of the East Coast's leaders in the flag and flagpole business. Providing a product as meaningful and symbolic as the American flag proved to be vitally important to the area, and the people within it would soon show the extent of their pride and patriotism.
In January 1991, as US troops began fighting in Operation Desert Storm, The Gates Company was working day and night to provide the NY/NJ area with American flags and flagpoles. It was a time when patriotism and unity among Americans was as its highest, but those values would go on to peak after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
In the months following 9/11, the Gates family served tens of thousands of customers who wanted to show their support for the nation at a time when it was most needed. People lined up around the block day in and day out, waiting anxiously for the daily shipment of flags to arrive from the factory. It was a time where America was more united than ever, and the customers who waited showed nothing but kindness and compassion for those they waited alongside.
With the passing of Bill in 2003, the company was then passed on to his daughter Lisa: the current president of Gates Flag & Banner. Lisa, an avid equestrian, had worked alongside her father since 1987, and was at the forefront of providing our customers with custom American-made products. From flags to parade banners, table drapes to large-format vinyl, Lisa continues to provide new innovations and products to the Gates brand on a regular basis, following in her father's footsteps of better re-structuring the company to meet the requests of our customers.
In 2017, our company expanded after Lisa's daughter Anna and her husband Dan opened up the Forest, VA location of Gates Flag & Banner. Together, the two of them have quickly made a name for themselves, especially among the state's many colleges.
We are extremely proud of and grateful for the tens of thousands of relationships we've built over the past 150 years, and it's always a pleasure when we see people come back time and time again for decades on end. The dedication to the Gates name by our customers is something that's incredible to witness in the age of big box stores and Amazon Prime. It continuously gives us hope that small businesses across America are still alive and thriving, and will continue to do so for generations to come!