Inside flag workshop, attention to detail and durability are key

MEDFORD, MA - 6/12/2018: FLAG DAY coming on June 14th.....Thuy Nguyen (cq) repairs an American flag at Accent Banner and Flags in Medford, their busy season for American flags is before Memorial weekend and July 4th. Flags are brought in by customers to be repaired from damage by the elements, tattered and torn. These three flags sized around 20' x 30' are placed on sewing tables to be inspected. One was cut to remove the wind damage, another had to be pre-stiched before being washed in a machine and the other had been repaired before twice or more times is beyond repair. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC stand alone photos
Thuy Nguyen repaired an American flag at Accent Banner and Flags in Medford, which has its busy season for American flags around the spring patriotic holidays, including Memorial Day and July Fourth.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff

MEDFORD — Future flags lay in wait inside the colorful bolts of fabric that decorate the Accent Banner and Flag workshop. Experts in applique lean over long tables, hand-stitching logos and lettering to banners that will soon line the streets of Boston.

A small family business with only 10 staff members, Accent Banner and Flag has been repairing and creating custom-made flags since 1992. That’s the year owner Alice Dietrich’s late husband Curt and his son-in-law bought the old Flag Center in Cambridge, the go-to destination for retail flags and banner manufacturing that dated to 1938.

The company relocated to Medford, and today specializes in custom creations and repairs.

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Accent makes some American flags, including the giant Old Glory that billows over the highway outside of the Herb Chambers Mercedes-Benz dealership in Somerville. But the majority of its work comes from creating special flags for local businesses, organizations, sports teams, and universities.

The busy season comes amid the patriotic spring and summer holidays — Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day, when customers “refresh” their winter-worn flags that have faded and tattered in the weather.

Inspection by Hannah Tran (not pictured) looks over worn area to see if can be repaired (left) and Thuy Nguyen (cq) uses spun nylon bonded thread doing repairs on a flag at Accent Banner and Flags in Medford, their busy season for American flags is before Memorial weekend and July 4th. ((David L Ryan/Globe Staff )
Hannah Tran (left) looked over the worn area of a flag to see if can be repaired and Thuy Nguyen (right) used spun nylon bonded thread to repair on a flag at Accent Banner and Flags in Medford.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff

The Globe visited the workshop a day before Flag Day. Company president Derrek Coss said Accent uses a “combination of New Age technology and old-world craftsmanship.’’ Its services might not be the fastest or the cheapest, Coss said, but the company’s attention to detail, care, and durability set them apart.

Dietrich, the owner, said: “If you’ve ever noticed those big flags hanging from the rotunda of the Boston Harbor Hotel, we make those,” she said. The company rarely makes custom American flags — “all those stars make it tough” — but the hotel project warranted an exception, Dietrich said.

The company also crafted 30-by-50 foot banners for the hotel that touted breast cancer awareness and several seasonal festivals. The flags have to be especially tough, as the sea breeze whips them against the rough stone edges of the building.

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Cheaper made flags wear out quickly — the manufactured American flag they ordered before deciding to make their own “failed within a week,” Dietrich said. “Ours doesn’t.”

“When people talk pride of the American flag, they’re talking about so much more than just the flag itself,” Coss said. “They really become an icon for people’s entire lives.”

MEDFORD, MA - 6/12/2018: FLAG DAY coming on June 14th.....On the cutting table employee Hannah Tran cuts off worn material as Jim Bouchard holds end of flag at Accent Banner and Flags in Medford, their busy season for American flags is before Memorial weekend and July 4th. Flags are brought in by customers to be repaired from damage by the elements, tattered and torn. These three flags sized around 20' x 30' are placed on sewing tables to be inspected. One was cut to remove the wind damage, another had to be pre-stiched before being washed in a machine and the other had been repaired before twice or more times is beyond repair. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC stand alone photos
Hannah Tran cut off worn material as Jim Bouchard (right) held the flag.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff