Small Businesses

Flying High: Biz 417 Talks to Tony Grigg, Owner of Ozark Flag Distributors

After decades in the fence industry, Tony Grigg was contemplating change. Little did he know that past teasing remarks from a relative would lead him to his new chapter and biggest success yet: as the owner of Ozark Flag Distributors.

By Jennifer Johnmeyer

Mar 2024

Ozark Flag Distributors
Photo by Brandon AlmsOzark Flag Distributors carries all flags, small and large, including Religious, Historical, State and International flags. Purchase Photo

In 1994, Tony Grigg began a new career in a new city, moving to Springfield to work as an installer with a local fence company.

In Grigg’s 32 years in the fence industry, he worked his way up through a series of promotions before becoming the general manager of his last company. As the years passed, he also took a little teasing along the way from the then-owner of Ozark Flag Distributors, James Pretti.

“I was related by marriage to the former, and second, owner of the company, James Pretti,” Grigg says. “He would often joke with me about how I needed to buy his company so that he could retire.”

Pretti passed away in 2014 after a long illness, and in 2016, Grigg’s time on the fence of indecision came to an end. Ready for a career change, he made an offer to purchase the company from Pretti’s widow.

“The rest is history, so to speak,” Grigg says. “I am the third owner of Ozark Flag Distributors, which has been in business for 74 years now.”

Ozark Flag Distributors sells a variety of flags, including United States, state and territory, international, military and civilian service, religious, and historical flags. Flag accessories and parts are also available.

Grigg is quick to attribute location as one of his keys to success. “Being located less than 500 feet from one of Springfield’s busiest intersections (Battlefield and Campbell) is huge,” he says. “As they say, location is everything. We have excellent visibility and ease of access for our customers, which is definitely a winning combination.” He cites several additional factors that have contributed to growth in his tenure running the company.

“One of the biggest factors has been bringing my background in commercial construction to the company,” he says. “When I took the helm, the company was not doing much in the way of commercial bidding. I immediately reached out to all of my contacts I had made throughout my previous career and set on a path of actively bidding new commercial construction, and now we do dozens of commercial projects annually. Most people do not know that flagpoles and installation are listed in the construction code’s Division 10 - Specialties.”

Grigg points out a second driving factor in growth: expansion. “We have expanded our service area to all of Missouri, as well as into northern Arkansas, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma,” he says. “We also recently completed two projects in western Illinois.”

Of all the reasons that factored into the growth and success Grigg has seen in his tenure, there is one he identifies as having provided Ozark Flag Distributors’ big break. “When I first took over the company, I recognized the great opportunities that are right here locally and began working to establish relationships with many of our locally owned national brands,” Grigg says.

He has gone on to create partnerships with locally based companies including Bass Pro Shops and their related brands, Andy’s Frozen Custard, and Loren Cook company. “After much hard work, we have been able to partner with these companies and others and become a supplier of goods and services to them,” Grigg says. “That has translated into a significant rise in the company’s annual revenue.”

While he declined to provide specifics on company financial, Grigg does offer his measures of success.

“I will say that when I purchased the company eight years ago, the annual revenue was under $600,000,” Grigg says. “Today our annual revenues are well in excess of $1 million, and growth has been on the positive side for seven straight years. I would say that I measure our success in the positive feedback and reviews of our customers and clients, and the amount of repeat business. If the people we serve are happy, then that’s a great indicator we’re succeeding.”