Philip Kauppinen’s father, Arnold J. Kauppinen, served in the U.S. Army’s 196th Light Infantry Brigade and did two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. After the war, Arnold worked in construction and manufacturing. He passed away in 2008.
To honor him, Kauppinen founded American flag distributor Grand New Flag on Flag Day (June 14) in 2012.
“He will forever be my hero,” Kauppinen said.
Based in Lockport, New York, Grand New Flag sells American, armed forces, and civil service flags; flagpoles and flagpole hardware; flag memorial cases; and more. Grand New Flag’s growing and loyal customer base are proud to buy American-made products and support the family business, Kauppinen said. He shows his customers his appreciation with each purchase.
“I like to write a personal note on each packing slip thanking new customers for their support and returning customers for their continued support,” he said.
Kauppinen further honors his father’s sacrifice, as well as other veterans’, by donating 5% of Grand New Flag’s profits each year to a nonprofit that serves veterans. For the last three years, Grand New Flag has supported Dog Tags New York, a charity that pairs veterans with shelter dogs. Kauppinen believes both bond over a shared experience: they've been stigmatized, misunderstood, and neglected by society. Grand New Flag also offers veterans and current service members 15% off all items on its website.
“As I believe, in the words of author James Allen, ‘No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks,’” Kauppinen said.
Kauppinen was confident in his mission from the beginning.
“My business plan was one notepad page: ‘American Made,’ ‘Giving back to veterans,’ ‘Online retail,’” he said. “In school, you are taught to do a full-on business plan, but I set out with an idea and mission that I was going to move forward on no matter what.”
Not everyone thought his approach was the best.
“I met with a business counselor for advice. He was well-experienced, and after I told him about my 15% veterans discount and 5% giveback, he looked at me and said I will never make it because I’m giving away 20% of my profits,” Kauppinen said. “I could have listened to him and changed my model, but I didn’t even blink. I told him thanks for the advice but I’m moving forward. I believe it was not until year six or seven that I truly felt like it was going to be successful enough to provide a good income.”
In 2020, Grand New Flag processed 1,400 orders just online. Kauppinen also processes local and offline orders.
Also part of Grand New Flag’s success is its seamless checkout experience. In November 2020, Grand New Flag installed Fast Checkout from the one-click checkout platform Fast. With Fast Checkout, shoppers can complete their orders in a matter of seconds. Fast asks shoppers for their payment and shipping information just once and securely saves it. The next time customers want to buy something from Grand New Flag, they only have to click the Fast Checkout button, and the order is sent.
“I had been looking for a Fast checkout solution with good fraud protection for a few months,” Kauppinen said. “Fast was an easy choice and easy to install.”
Grand New Flag will celebrate 10 years of business in 2022. In the meantime, Kauppinen is looking forward to his business growing so much in 2021 that he has to hire his first employee.
“I think Fast can help reach that goal,” he said, “as more and more people across the online marketplace adopt Fast as their preferred checkout method.”