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Where FlagIron Got Its Name

Our inspiration in naming FlagIron came from our fathers. Both were children of immigrant parents. Both started successful new businesses late in life and both worked until their death. Retirement was not to be in their life and that’s the way they wanted it.

Anne and Ira

Ira Leon Lansky (Anne’s father) was a Boston, Massachusetts native and a World War II veteran. He was a proud alumnus of Boston Latin School, an affiliation he maintained until the end of his life. When he returned from the war, he started a family, and a career in the newly burgeoning industry of frozen foods. His focus was on sales and sales management.

In the late fifties and early sixties, he transitioned into the dental industry, selling products ranging from false teeth to dental instruments. An attempt with a partner to develop and market a dental product failed. In the mid-sixties he moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio to further his career.

In his late fifties, he found himself divorced and at an unanticipated career crossroads. He moved to Chicago. He worked as an independent sales rep and started his own business, manufacturing and selling electrosurgical equipment used by dentists and veterinarians.

He worked at this on a ‘hand-shake’ with his business partner for more than 25 years. At 88, while on a business trip, he took ill and died several days later.  It was his wish to ‘die with his boots on.’ He was very proud of building this little business at the end of his life, able to enjoy a few luxuries and sock away some savings. He always had an innate curiosity about the world around him that drove him to lifelong learning, and disciplined energy for the work in front of him. He loved confronting the challenges of a changing business world even at the end of his life; at 80, with some anxiety, he learned to use a computer. He has always been a great role model for me in many ways, not least as these qualities serve us now as we work to build our business.

Gustaf Fritchof Anderson (Jim’s father) worked all his life in the bituminous coal industry in Central Pennsylvania. At 14 years old, he went to work in a deep mine. This kind of hard labor is something many of us have never faced. It was dirty and dangerous work.

Gust worked for the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Company and progressed over the years to a management position. In 1937, he and two of his fellow workers (Carl Lundgren and Gust Skogsberg) set out to form the Sylvan Grove Coal Company. They bought a farm including the mineral rights beneath the soil and constructed an entrance into the side of a hill where they had seen an outcropping of coal. This was all done with manual labor and ponies were used to pull the small coal cars from deep in the mine to the loading dock.

Several years into the business Mr. Skogsberg passed away. As the “winds of war” were sweeping the country in the late 1930’s, the need for energy was becoming evident and the Sylvan Grove Coal Company progressed to the strip mining of coal. Following World War II, Anderson and Lundgren sold their company to one of their sub-contractors and retired in 1948.

That retirement lasted only a year. The two men formed another company called the Anderson Lundgren Coal Company and went back into the strip mining business. Tough economic times followed World War II. In spite of this, the two men kept the company functioning. On a cold winter day in January 1959, Gust passed away. Since he had been the operations force in the company, it was later sold by the estate and dissolved.

Our mother Anna had passed away three years earlier, and working was Dad’s passion in life. He spent the last years of his life doing what he had loved all his life – working in the coal industry.

We knew we wanted to make use of the inspiration we both got from watching our fathers. We had both come to realize that the entrepreneurship and work ethic we have was something we watched and learned from our fathers from early childhood on.

Anne remembered using word scrambles to come up with names from other projects. That’s what we did one evening on the dining room table. We cut out all the letters of our father’s names and “played scrabble” with them. Hence FlagIron was born.

Jim keeps on his computer desktop a PowerPoint file with slides showing the hard labor job of a bituminous coal miner. It serves as a reminder of how hard our parents or grandparents worked. The slides are set to the music of the Jim Reeves tune of “The streets of Laredo” so be sure your sound is turned on.

Old America - Slide Show

To learn more about the hard working coal miners of the early 1900’s and a ghost town in Pennsylvania, click on the following link -

Woman Owned Small Business