2017-09-14 / Life in Leelanau

Northport business icon closes doors

By Jennie Berkson
Of The Enterprise staff


DAVE KILCHERMAN, the father of owner Casey Kilcherman and a longtime employee, completes some final tasks at the former Northport business. DAVE KILCHERMAN, the father of owner Casey Kilcherman and a longtime employee, completes some final tasks at the former Northport business. For more than five decades, folks coming to Northport on either leg of M-22 passed an unassuming one-story brown building that up until a few weeks ago housed the Spartan Flag Company.

The company has been a source of employment as well as of pride for the community, supplying products such as tee flags to golf courses across the country.

Spartan Flag has closed its doors for good, an apparent victim of competition around the globe.

“In this day and age factors such as foreign outsourcing, and wage and overall increases in operating expenses have made it very difficult to compete,” owner Casey Kilcherman wrote in an email. “So, it is with a very heavy heart that I have made the decision to close our doors.”

Once supplying “75-85 percent of the world’s market of golf flags,” Spartan Flag employed “an average of ... 11-15 employees, and subcontractors that worked from home,” Kilcherman stated.


A LONGTIME Northport business, the Spartan Flag Company, is folding. A LONGTIME Northport business, the Spartan Flag Company, is folding. The company was started in the 1950s by Claude Evett, a “dear friend” of Kilcherman’s grandfather, Wayne Kilcherman. When he became ill, ownership passed to Cheryl Seipke, Wayne’s daughter, Casey’s aunt.

“She owned it for 15 years before ... deciding that she could not bear another winter in Michigan and offered the business to me,” Casey said. “I retained ownership for 13 years and worked with family members and my father Dave Kilcherman who had been there for nearly 50 years, taking a brief leave to serve in the army.”

For years, Spartan Flag supplied one customer, Standard Golf Company of Cedar Falls, Iowa, with its supply of golf flags.

“We had a long history going back to 1950s,” said Standard Golf Company President Peter Voorhees. “We understood they were having some difficulties. We were informed they were ceasing operations. The majority of our flag business was with them and we have now found another supplier.”

Spartan made other banners and flags for many purposes and sold American flags as well.

“Customers are being directed to Bay Supply in Traverse City for American flags and my regular customers who order specialty flags and banners are being referred to Wind Designs in Suttons Bay,” Casey Kilcherman said.

Kilcherman said all of her employees live in Leelanau County and “the majority of them are family. I have helped some of my employees find work elsewhere and am more than happy to continue to give references on behalf of others.”

Kilcherman owns the building at 323 Shawabsung Street, which housed the company for 50 of its 70 years of operation, but “it will be for sale in the upcoming months, once I get it prepared,” she said. “All of the equipment has buyers in place already.”

After spending much of her life in the family business, Kilcherman is “actively seeking full-time employment, hoping to find something in Leelanau County. Not only have I been running a company on my own but I am also a single parent of three,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having a regular 40-hour a week job which would allow me to spend more time with my children.”

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Congratulations on an

Congratulations on an incredible run. We sure will miss seeing your beautiful work & that treasured sign each time we pull into Northport. Very best of luck in days ahead.