By Max Sullivan
If you need a banner, flag or awning that is going to last, Somerville’s Ward 4 Alderman Tony Lafuente is your man.
For the last thirty years, everyone from the Rouse Company to the Boston Red Sox and Celtics has called up his Somerville based flag and banner business, Flagraphics, when they needed a textile.
For Lafuente, having that kind of trust is an honor.
“To be looked at by such large clients, even over the years, to have that trust, and confidence, that you can do what you have to do, and you can do it on time, and the quality is good,” Lafuente said, “It says a lot about the company. We’ve always been looked at as that.”
Lafuente started the business back in 1982, after he had left his first job, another flag business in Cambridge, over a difference in visions. Then 24, Lafuente wanted to attack architectural businesses, but his boss at the time did not. Lafuente left and formed Flagraphics.
Business took off immediately. From the start, he formed a relationship with the Rouse Company, at the time a huge shopping mall corporation that was looking for textiles and banners for its new product in Boston, Faneuil Hall. Lafuente got the job. From that point on, he was in with the Rouse Company, and they called on him to create banners, flags, and awnings for the next six years.
Thirty years later, Flagraphics still stands, and Lafuente said it has mostly to do with the quality of the material his business uses in its banners. While some companies use foreign products, Flagraphics only uses American made materials, which Lafuente said are the best.
“What makes a good sign or a banner or an awning is really the way you manufacture it,” Lafuente said. “American textiles are the strongest, absolutely best industrial textiles in the world. So we don’t buy any foreign goods.”
If a snowstorm hits and tears an awning over a restaurant, or a business’s flag deteriorates after a rainy season, the company could get the axe. Lafuente makes sure the materials he uses are the best so that his customers know that he’s reliable.
Since those early days, his clientele has grown impressively. Not only do the Red Sox and Celtics trust Flagraphics with their championship banners, but so do the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and many other major businesses across the nation.
Since the business has opened, Flagraphics has grown steadily from a small store front business to what is now a 22,000 square foot facility. While they were once just a flag and banner business that sewed its products by hand, Lafuente’s business has snowballed to include awnings, canopies, digital textiles and graphics for car and bus wraps, metal signs and buildings. Lafuente’s done whatever he could to divert Flagraphics from “keeping their eggs in one basket.” His policy has been to put his hand in every part of his industry, both with products as well as geographically.
Stop in to Flagraphics at 30 Alston St in Somerville, or visit them online at www.flagraphics.com.