DeSoto teen flying flag as business owner

HORN LAKE — Now that school is about to let out, Horn Lake resident Emily Waldon can go and find herself a summer job.

Oh, wait, the 16-year-old already has one. And she’s been performing quite well at it since the age of 6.

Waldon is the owner and founder of Flagpole Express, a company, with the assistance of her family, that manufactures and installs residential and commercial flagpoles. Shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Waldon began serving DeSoto and surrounding counties with flags and other patriotic accessories.

In 2001, the original flagpole was homemade, using some top rail for a chain-link fence. It was displayed in the Waldons’ front yard, where it caught the eye of a neighbor. Eventually, the owner of the Citgo Bull Market gas station became the first customer.

“That kind of launched the idea, ‘Hey, I can sell these things,’” said Emily’s father, Bryan Waldon, “and she’s been selling them ever since.”

The success has been a good thing, as Emily’s other minor business endeavors through the years haven’t fared so well.

“I’ve made bracelets for people at my school,” she said. “And I did this thing at the flea market, where they paid me 25 cents to pet my rabbit. I made $30 one time, but this (Flagpole Express) is the one that works.”

The most recent transaction was at her home church— Calvary Baptist — in Horn Lake. With the additional guidance from Emily’s mother, Ginger, and muscle from family friend Steven Cooper, the 170-pound flagpole was erected just in front of the doors to the sanctuary.

“That’s a big ol’ pole to stand up with two men,” Bryan Waldon said. “She’s just about donated a pole to somebody almost every year. She’s been very generous.”

Emily has done business all around, from Covington to Greenwood.

“I love it,” she said. “Now that it’s almost summer, I’m looking to go on all the little business trips; take it out to everybody, because I want to know the customers.

“I enjoy the satisfaction and the patriotism, just the pride that comes with it.”

The earnings that come with owning Flagpole Express are funding a college education. Emily has two years remaining at Lewisburg High School, and she’s leaning toward Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss., or Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

“She’s probably going to get a scholarship,” said Bryan Waldon. “But if not, this is definitely going to help her through her college days, even her younger sister.”

Chris Van Tuyl/Commercial Appeal