Built in the Blue Ridge: Collegiate Pacific
Fans spend more than $4.6 billion each year to show their school spirit.
ROANOKE, Va. – You see them in dorm rooms, at football games and even on the International Space Station.
Fans buy pennants to show support for their school or favorite team.
“It is something in this country and actually we’re starting to find that it's worldwide now, where people look back and it's some kind of a keepsake. I mean, people look for them in yard sales and they go into antique shops and they go oh my God,” said Collegiate Pacific owner Bill Webster.
Collegiate Pacific got its start in Iowa, but moved to the east coast to get closer to its customer, with people surprised to learn their product is made in Roanoke.
“I think a lot of that is the fact that we don't sell to the public. We manufacture to a closed market. We're a niche in an industry. We don't advertise. We're involved in the community, but when people come here they go holy smolly. I can't believe this is here,” Webster said.
It is not just pennants that workers make, but banners and flags too, highlighting a school's achievement.
In addition to schools, the company also produces pennants and flag for the military, showing off a soldier's unit.
”When they graduate, they have a kiosk just off the parade field, and all of the parents and the kids come through and buy their flag, whether they were 396 or 362,” Webster said.
There are no automated processes. The company’s employees do everything by hand.
They crank out between 2,000 and 3,000 pennants every day and nearly a million in a year.
There are several social media pages and websites where people show off their collections.
“It's been going on a long time. There are collectors out there and they're on the internet. They're on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. You go on those websites. There's bids for them. They sell them online. There's just a big need for them or a want for them. People like to collect them,” operations director Dan Webster said.
The company’s workers take pride in being part of those collections.
“It's pretty cool that people collect these and keep them, because it's a keepsake of their achievement or a sports team they like, or something like that for them. So that pretty cool for them and we think that's pretty cool," said Dan Webster.
The company employs 31 people and has been in existence since 1904.
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