Mike Campbell and Josh Organ have worked with wood for a large part of their lives, and together they decided to put their woodworking skills to use in the creation of a special wooden flag to donate to their church.
People saw their work and wanted to buy flags of their own, so the two men created a business out of it.
Now, Campbell and Organ own 4 Day Woodworx, which sells wooden American flags that can be customized to include names, patriotic messages or insignias, the most popular of which is the Marine Corps Eagle, Globe and Anchor. In the past 18 months, the two men have made more than 200 flags out of Organ’s garage shop in Agua Dulce.
For Campbell and Organ, 4 Day Woodworx is a hobby and a side business. Both men work full-time for the Pasadena Fire Department, and come from military families. Campbell himself is a former Marine and police officer. The name of their company is a reference to the four-day breaks the men get between work shifts at the fire station.
“The funny thing is how many people think that four days is how long it takes us to make the flags,” Campbell said with a laugh. “But then you get the cops or firemen who get it and say, ’Oh, you do this on your days off.’ Usually it’s with a snicker from the cops. It actually only takes us about 45 minutes to an hour to make a flag.”
Initially, the flags were all made by hand with carving tools and took hours to complete. After a lot of trial and error and purchasing a machine to help carve custom designs into the wood, they were able to streamline the process and cut the time by over half.
Once a week, Organ will open up his workshop and, with the help of Campbell’s father, the three men will work on the eight to 10 flag orders they get per month. Most of 4 Day Woodworx’s orders are the result of word-of-mouth referrals, and though there are many similar flag companies, Organ believes that the popularity of their flags is due to the high quality and low price point.
“We know other flag builders and our quality is on par with them, but we’re easily $50 to $100 cheaper,” Organ said. “We would rather see these flags go in more homes of families who want a flag and couldn’t really afford a big price tag than to make an extra $50.”
Almost a third of the flags they make are donated to the families of fallen servicemen, police officers and firefighters, using the money from their paid orders to cover the material costs. Though this may not sound like a solid business practice, Campbell and Organ see it as a ministry and patriotic duty to honor families who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“These donations are the best part of making the flags for me, especially to Gold Star families, and it’s the paying customers that allow us to make so many donations,” Campbell said. “We have other ways of making an income, and if we were just in this for the money then we probably would not have lasted this long. If there’s one frustration for me, it would be when we get so backed up with orders that we aren’t able to make the deadline for a funeral service.”
Another reason why Organ and Campbell enjoy making the flags is because they believe veterans are an underserved and often forgotten segment of the population. The flags help promote patriotism, which, in the current political climate, they believe is in short supply.
“I think people forget how fortunate we are,” Organ said. “Other countries like Venezuela, Russia or China don’t have the same freedoms as we do in America. I think that patriotism is pride, love for our country and the beauty in how different we all are. You may not agree with everything that goes on here, but as an American you need to be proud of where you’re from.”
Campbell likened patriotism to one of their flags in that there are many imperfections in the wood, but the point is to enjoy the product as a whole and for what it strives to be.
Though a majority of people praise the flags for their artisanship and meaning, others criticize 4 Day Woodwork for violating flag code by carving symbols and words into a flag. While Organ and Campbell are aware of the violation, they believe more in the spirit of the code than the letter and that the writers of the flag code would not oppose their work.
“What we’re doing is art,” Organ said. “We do have limits, though, and there are certain designs that we won’t do. We won’t make a flag with Mickey Mouse or a sports team on it.”
The biggest values for the 4 Day Woodworx team are respect and honor. They make sure to research the customers and ensure that they really were part of the group that they want engraved on their flag and that someone does not get a Navy Seal insignia engraved just because they think it is cool. And while Campbell and Organ are willing to make products other than flags, they will not use the flag as a decoration on a piece of furniture like a table or cutting board.
In the coming year, Campbell and Organ plan on catching up with their current orders and eventually scaling back their operations in order to spend more time with their families. They also plan to host at least one workshop and barbecue where attendees can make their own flags.
“Eventually, I want to see us grow so that we can split the business between the money-making side and the charitable side,” Campbell said. “I would love to see us expand to where we could make enough money to become the go-to company for charitable events. Being included in that honor and giving away something that has meaning is the coolest part.”
To see some of 4 Day Woodworx’s other work or to order a flag, visit the company’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/4DaywoodWorx/.