Today, July 8th, marks the day of Gates Flag & Banner’s 145th Anniversary! It just so happens that today is also Bill Gates’ birthday…yeah the original Bill Gates—3rd generation owner of Gates Flag & Banner (…after all, he had his name first). So what is it you say that makes our Anniversary so worth celebrating? Because we love what we do! We aim to share the wealth of happiness in our quality service to you.
Look out your window, down the street or at one of your favorite parks, in front of your local fast food restaurant or your car dealer; see a flag/flag pole? Maybe you’re giving the royal wave as you ride down the streets through a plethora of Avenue Banners. Chances are we installed that gleaming flagpole with our beautiful stars and stripes snapping in the breeze. We proudly salute all our flags and poles covering NJ with a reach that extends to NY, CT, PA, MD and DE, including a light house in Rhode Island. We are even known for shipping flags and poles across the country. That said, we’d like to bring you a bit closer to Gates…the guy!
Most people spend at least some time in their lives job searching or changing careers or at least time pondering what their ‘dream job’ would be. That was never the case when you talk about Bill Gates. He always knew what he was going to do and he was the perfect man for the job. Starting out his young life hawking ladders off the back of a truck in the city streets of Paterson, he became the great salesman we all knew. Bill grew up in the business, at that time, known as Gates Ladder Company. He knew his father and grandfather had built a proud reputation in ladders and he meant to continue that tradition. His real love was the flag and flagpole side of the business.
He loved to tell the story of his grandfather who, like Abraham Lincoln (his words) started out splitting logs for a living. Most were split and manufactured into ladders but the truly straight logs were turned into wooden flagpoles. Flagpoles and ladders both evolved using similar materials, aluminum and fiberglass. Gates Ladder manufactured wooden ladders through the 1960’s, and under Bill’s guidance, expanded the flag and flagpole business into what it is today.
Bill Gates, was the owner, President, CEO and extraordinary salesman of what is now Gates Flag and Banner Company in Clifton, NJ. He loved what he did and it was evident to everyone he met.
Today, over 12 years since his passing, customers still come in looking for ‘Bill’ and tell stories of how they enjoyed sitting with him and chatting sometimes for hours. He was known to everyone as ‘Bill’ and sometimes ‘Billy’ but he didn’t want to be called ‘Mr. Gates’. “Call me Bill…Mr. Gates was my father’s name,” he would say. That was just one way in which he welcomed people in and made them feel at ease. He was genuine and had a charm and wit about him that attracted others to him. He was also very sharp and quick with numbers, which all put together made him a natural salesman and a pleasure to do business with. He loved asking questions about people and learning about them. Sometimes people would stop in lost, asking for directions, they would spend time with Bill and walk out after purchasing flags and poles. Legend has it that one customer came in the office interested in having a flagpole installed, spoke with Bill at great length and by the time the customer returned home the flagpole was installed in his yard already. He even enjoyed joking about sharing the name with the computer genius turned billionaire.
With all sincerity, from the Gates family to yours, thanks to all our loyal customers for all your support and many years of working together!
We always love you to share, so if you have any memories or could take a picture with your Gates product – post to our Facebook page saying, “Happy Anniversary!”
Co-Authors: Lisa Gates-McCormick, John Healy and Qurra-tul-Ayn Saleem
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