From academics to athletics, 2011 has proven to be a historic year for the University of Houston (UH). From a Tier One research designation to the Houston Cougar football team having its first-ever 12-win season, local businesses are getting on board to wave the banner of the university – and they are doing so quite literally.
Crank it Up Coogs, a grassroots initiative started by UH alum Don Chaney, his wife Lisa and fellow alum Charles Clemmerand, recruits local businesses to fly UH flags. The effort started in 2010 and recently expanded to 29 Houston-area businesses.
“I knew the university and management under Dr. Renu Khator were doing a fantastic job, but I wanted to find a way the community could support the university,” said Chaney, who earned an Executive MBA from UH in 1989. “I came up with the idea one day of asking business owners to fly flags − originally on football game day − but now many of them are flying them year-round now.”
One of the first businesses to join the effort was the Downtown Body Shop, off the Gulf Freeway, near the university campus. Owner Greg Carter’s sons attend UH Victoria and UH Downtown, and many of his clients come from the main UH campus. Carter was approached last year about flying a larger UH flag above the body shop as part of Crank it Up Coogs. He was on-board from the beginning, replacing his regular flag for a giant flag that spans 30 feet by 15 feet and can be seen by drivers from I-45. This season Carter has kept his flag flying high every day.
“I am superstitious. The football team started winning. They kept winning, and I haven’t taken it down,” said Carter.
A group of Crank it Up Coog student volunteers recently delivered and installed flags at a number of Houston area businesses new to the program.
“I think it’s a great way to promote the University of Houston,” said UH sophomore and student volunteer Anum Hassan. “We are changing for the better on a daily basis, and we want the entire city involved. The vibe is just phenomenal.”
Support for the university isn’t the only thing growing in size − so are the flags. Gardner & Martin Inc., a Pasadena-based flag and sign business, recently erected the largest UH flag to date, spanning 20 feet by 30 feet along the East Sam Houston Parkway.
“We are excited about the bowl game coming up and we are going to support the Cougars,” said Derrick Martin. “The flag wasn’t up five seconds before people driving by started honking.”
Chaney said he gets a sense of pride and loves seeing more flags flying around the city, but the effort is about the university and the community.
“There is so much going on at the university – there are new buildings, a stadium mixed-use parking garage, plans for a new football stadium, the basketball team is doing wonderful − there are lot of exciting things ahead for University of Houston in the future.”
Perhaps making this the perfect time for the university and it’s supporters to wave the UH flag, figuratively, and for Crank it Up Coog businesses, quite literally.
For more information about Crank it Up Coogs, visit www.crankitupcoogs.com.