Wisconsin Dad Quits Job, Teams Up With Son to Make Awesome American Flags—and Millions of Dollars

A modern-day, rags-to-riches American Dream story.
Wisconsin Dad Quits Job, Teams Up With Son to Make Awesome American Flags—and Millions of Dollars
(Courtesy of Shane Henderson)
Michael Wing
10/20/2023
Updated:
12/29/2023
0:00

Months before heartlanders voted to Make America Great Again in 2016, Shane Henderson, 47, quit his stable nine-to-five job and ventured to live the American Dream. It was scary tossing out his “safety net” career, he admits. Yet his patriotic gambit paid off.

The American flag—a battle-torn stars and stripes design cut with a CNC plasma table—was how it started, and their first flag was an overnight success.

“It all happened by accident. I wasn’t trying to start a business,” Mr. Henderson told The Epoch Times. “But thousands, and thousands, and thousands of people bought this flag.”

The former machinery salesman for Baileigh Industrial in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, once lived paycheck to paycheck with a small house and a family.

“We were not well-off by any means,” he said. “We were a typical mid-range family.”

Then their pro-American flag business flew, making them overnight millionaires.

The Wisconsinite father had simply meant to spend more quality time with his son, Justice, crafting a steel flag together in the garage. Once they had the flag shaped, painted, and polished, they posted a photo of it on Instagram, and it went viral. The orders flooded in.
The torn <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Metal-Art-Wisconsin-Original-Tattered/dp/B09XFH3PF4?&linkCode=sl1&tag=inspired0513-20&linkId=cadcb34deb2bf440834a54e603cdce3d&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl">American flag</a> design that Shane Henderson, 47, and his son, Justice Henderson, manufactured to get their company off the ground. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)
The torn American flag design that Shane Henderson, 47, and his son, Justice Henderson, manufactured to get their company off the ground. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)

They tried to meet the demand, but without employees or even a shop in their garage, Mr. Henderson soon had a choice to make. It was either “chase the American dream and go for this or shut it down and stick with our nine-to-five job,” he said.

In 2016, he quit his job. Together with their first employee, Daphne, they would manufacture and wrap thousands of flags. Mr. Henderson invented the Freedom Cabinet the same year that they earned their first million in 2017.

“We had two back-to-back million-dollar months,” he said.

Despite making every manufacturer’s mistake in the book, he’s become a veteran of nearly 11 years in the business.

Together, Mr. Henderson and his son own a booming business, Metal Art of Wisconsin. Their real claim to fame is the invention of the Freedom Cabinet, which conceals hunting gear, Jack Daniels, or poker chips behind stars and stripes. The cabinet features a biometric lock while displaying glorious stainless-steel Americana on your wall. It also comes in polished wood and carbon fiber.
Various styles of concealment cabinets, called <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Metal-Art-Wisconsin-Freedom-Cabinet/dp/B09XG516QN?m=A38TWFOHCSC30K&qid=1697683448&s=handmade&sr=1-1&linkCode=sl1&tag=inspired0513-20&linkId=8c94323acea466b51f9b743c6695a3b3&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl">Freedom Cabinets</a>. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)
Various styles of concealment cabinets, called Freedom Cabinets. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)

Soon, fame followed success. In 2019, Fox & Friends flew Mr. Henderson to Manhattan to tell their story. The network has now featured him 14 times.

“The reason America has fallen in love with our story is it’s the American dream—rags to riches,” he told The Epoch Times. “We had thousands of back orders, and we had nine-to-five jobs.”

Rock stars and politicians also contracted them for patriotic products. Even Donald Trump Jr. owns a Freedom Cabinet, as well as an 8-foot steel flag that hangs on his porch.

The Trumps recently flew the Hendersons to Mar-a-Lago for a dinner, wanting to raffle off two of their flags for a fundraiser.

“This whole business and the flag has opened so many doors for us,” the dad said.

The Hendersons owe the Land of the Free for their successful foray; now their love of country inspires them to give back.

“It’s important to bring the business back to the community,” Mr. Henderson said.

They currently hire 30 employees in their new 20,000-square-foot shop in Manitowoc, and network with 75 local vendors.

(Top) A stainless steel American flag; (Bottom Left) A wooden butcher block American flag; (Bottom Right) Justice Henderson (L), 20, and his father, Shane Henderson, 47. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)
(Top) A stainless steel American flag; (Bottom Left) A wooden butcher block American flag; (Bottom Right) Justice Henderson (L), 20, and his father, Shane Henderson, 47. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)

All their products are made in America. Mr. Henderson says he would never “get stuff delivered from China or out of the country” the way Home Depot does. Even their specialty wood is sourced from a local Amish colony.

“They use no technology, no computers, no cell phones,” Mr. Henderson said. “We do everything [in dealing with the Amish] through mail, we mail checks.”

The entrepreneur also started Flags for Fortitude, the charitable arm of the enterprise, through which Americans can nominate local heroes—a police officer, fireman, veteran, crossing guard, or lunch lady from your community.

“You can nominate them on our website,” Mr. Henderson said. “We will customize a flag and send them a flag for free.”

Their sights are now set on the Guinness World Record for the largest wooden flag. “We just sent our paperwork two weeks ago,” Mr. Henderson said.

They began carving colossus inlaid butcher block flags made from Wisconsin maple and cherry, which became their biggest sellers. These feature a rippling, wind-blown wave profile and all-handmade, polished stars and stripes inlay. The enormous blocks hang vertically and can weigh a quarter-ton each.

A wooden butcher block American flag on the wall; (inset) a metal American flag eagle design. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)
A wooden butcher block American flag on the wall; (inset) a metal American flag eagle design. (Courtesy of Shane Henderson)

Their hopeful record-setter—a 10-foot-wide butcher block flag—was bought for $5,000 by a retired fire chief in Los Angeles. He displays it in the entryway of his house.

Mr. Henderson is also eyeing an open wall in Arlington Cemetery and says it would be meaningful to get a flag put up there. Other patriotic inroads are in the works, he said. They’re two steps away from getting one of their flags in the White House.

Metal Art of Wisconsin’s patriotic flags and Freedom Cabinets are available on Amazon.