National Band & Tag Company

Newport, Kentucky


By Margaret Strebel Hartman, Historian, also published in the Falmouth Outlook.  A copy of this article is in the National Bag and Tag folder at the Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society in Alexandria



Before telling about the company he founded, lets find out about Joseph Haas.  He was born on January 6, 1878 in Newport, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Wald).  On June 27, 1900 he married Clara Hoeffler and their first son Fred Elden Haas was born on April 19, 1901.

Joseph worked for the Higgin Manufacturing Company (manufacturers of a line of carriage trimmings) located at Fifth and Washington avenue in Newport, but on August 15, 1902, he opened a small shop in an abandoned barn at 71 Hooper street in Clifton (now a part of Newport).  He intended to manufacture poultry leg and wing bands.  Though he knew very little about poultry farming, he had been informed that breeders were improving their flocks and in doing this, it was necessary to use some sort of marker to distinguish one fowl from another.

Though Joseph's capital was limited and his equipment consisted of an old gasoline engine, a bench and a few tools, he visualized the possibility of a new industry.  He went to work with a will and designed a few patterns of bands.  He placed advertisements in a number of poultry magazine, but the process of obtaining orders was slow at first.  Although there was practically no competition, it seemed the world wasn't ready for leg and wing bands; the outlook was discouraging, but he refused to be discouraged.

Joseph continued to advertise in periodicals and upon the recommendations of his customers and his own experiments, improved upon the rather crude bands he had at first designed.  Slow, but surely, the business grew until about 1914, there was a sharp increase in the amount of orders placed with the company.  Due to the need to produce more bands and tags, he needed larger quarters, new machinery and additional employees.  Joseph moved the business to a garage at 633 Monroe street and increased the labor force to ten, one of which was his second son, Elmer Joseph (born Nov 18, 1903).

By 1916 the expanding business needed new room and the firm moved to 720 Orchard street.  Joseph's oldest son Fred, joined the company this year.  Now the father and two sons were guiding the destiny of the business which had the world as its market.

Joseph Haas worked and watched his company grow until 1966 when he retired at the age of 88.  Also during these years, he was a member of St John United Church of Christ and a member of the Newport Elks and Newport Eagles.  He was a president of the Kentucky Enterprise Federal Savings and Loan Association and a member of the board of directors of Evergreen Cemetery, Southgate.  Joseph died at 9:40 pm January 25, 1967 at his residence 4 Oak Ridge in Ft Thomas.


Elmer, the second son of Joseph was the first to help his father in the band and tag business.  He married Flora Feiger on Dec 17, 1925.  His sons were to become associated with the company, Elmer Joseph, James Richard and Tom Vernon.  Elmer and his sons specialized in sales, supervision and administration.  The fourth son, Roger Allen, became a medical doctor and their plant physician.


About 1916, Fred joined in working with this father and brother in the business. He became manager of the machinery and production department.  On June 21, 1926 he married Fay Eva Espenscheid.  In time his sons became members of the company and specialized in research, development and production.  These sons were Donald Joseph, William F (while living in Phoenix, he served as the far Western representative for the company) Fred Elden Jr. and Joseph Douglas.


When the business was moved to Orchard street in 1916, the plant faced on this street, but the company now occupies a total of eight two-story buildings, the principal plant is located at 721 York street.  The firm sells its products in every state in the union and in almost every foreign country, even including such unlikely and relatively inaccessible places as the Belgian Congo and Islands off the coast of Alaska.

Three of the original leg band patterns that Joseph designed when he first entered in the band and tag business are still in use today and are among the most popular of the line.  The line of leg and wing bands now including over fifty patterns for every branch of poultry identification, has been expanded to cover many kinds of livestock identification tags, plat markers, electrical tags and specialized agricultural identification media of every type.  Among the bands is one made for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which is so small that nearly 1000 can be held in the palm of one hand.  It is used for fish weighing less than an ounce.  The largest band is an ear tag used for cattle often weighing almost a ton.

Among National Band products is one which attracted nation wide attention and a great deal of curiosity; "spectacles" for chickens, the firm's "anti'pix" which are used to prevent cannibalism.  These devices have been the subject of national attention on suck top flight television programs as the Arthur Godfrey show and others.

During World War II the company supplied a great many identification bands and tags for products used by the armed forces, chiefly the Navy, and was cited for its services to the war effort.  In the Korean conflict, the company again engaged in manufacturing tags needed in armament production and was among the nation's manufacturers who helped outfit the new "SS United States."

National's management is engaged in constant research on new methods of improving poultry and livestock breeding through identifying media, and all new products or improvements are "farm tested" on the company's experimental farm at Blanchester Oh.  The company grew slowly to its present size and the Haas family measures its success modestly in terms of aid in the eradication of poultry and livestock disease through identification of vaccinated individuals.  Brucellosis in cattle is an example.

A most satisfying aspect in the minds of the Haas' is their relationship with their employees.


Elmer Joseph Haas passed away Nov 28, 1969 and Fred Elden Haas Sr. died in January of 1971.  However the company is now in the capable hands of Elmer's sons, Elmer, Jim and Tom, Fred's sons, Don, Fred, Joe and Bill (Phoenix Arizona).  Also joining them in the operation of the National Band & Tag Company is Elmer Jr.'s son Mike, the first of the fourth generation of the Haas family.

CREDIT: all information supplied by Elmer Haas Jr.

More information can be found on the company's website at


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