Shane Henderson of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and his son, Justis Henderson, have created a successful pair of businesses, plus an important charitable arm of their work. All of it revolves around their unique American flag designs and craftsmanship — and it started in the family’s garage.
“Our story keeps evolving,” Shane Henderson told Fox News Digital in a recent phone interview. “We started back in 2013. It’s the American dream. I had a 9-to-5 job while my son and I were working on a weekend project in our garage. We made a couple of flags together when he was just 10 years old, and we started an Instagram page about it. Then we woke up one morning and it all went viral.”
Their almost-immediate success, he said, “was accidental. We just couldn’t believe it.”
The father-son duo wound up selling thousands of their specially designed American flags — and decided, ultimately, to go the entrepreneurial route.
The father-son team of Shane Henderson (left) and Justis Henderson hail from Wisconsin. They work across the street from each other now, in their respective shops — and “risked it all” to embark on the American dream. (Courtesy Shane Henderson and Justis Henderson)
“We decided to risk it all, invest, get a shop, get employees, and go for it. So that’s what we did. And over the past seven or eight years, I’ve built Metal Art of Wisconsin,” added Shane Henderson. Today, he says, he has 22 employees and a 15,000-square-foot work space.
“But we don’t just build flags,” he added. “In 2017, I invented a product called the Freedom Cabinet. It’s a wood flag with inlaid steel that opens up and locks as well, through a biometric fingerprint lock system. So people can store and secure whatever they like in there.”
“This [product] really exploded,” he said. The Hendersons sold “thousands” in just one Christmas season alone.
Their story of patriotism, creativity, and giving back to others keeps getting better, however.
Justis Henderson practically grew up in his father’s shop. “Even at the age of 10, he was polishing and welding and painting” because he wanted to, said the proud dad.
The father-son team create their unique American flag designs and products in their shops in Wisconsin — and ship them to customers from all over. (Courtesy Shane Henderson and Justis Henderson)
Over time, the younger Henderson “took his own artistic eye and embarked on a process of marbling paint. And he invented our marble flags that we now have on our website.”
Once his son’s products launched, “things went crazy — we just couldn’t make them fast enough,” said Shane Henderson.
Lat year, when Justis Henderson was 17, he told his dad, “I want to do this. This is what I want to do. I want to be a metal artist.”
So — following in his father’s footsteps — he started his own business crafting steel flags, called Flags by Justis. It’s located right across the street from his dad’s shop.
Justis Henderson, 18, is shown at work in his shop. He says that “continuously growing and improving” has been the secret to his success. (Courtesy Shane Henderson and Justis Henderson)
“We have kind of a metal art dynasty going on here,” said Shane Henderson.
The products are handmade and specially crafted. “They’re works of art,” said Shane Henderson about his son’s creations. “Schools, churches, banks, and other businesses are proud to display them.” (See their creations in the two tweets just below.)
He added, “Our businesses are now growing side-by-side. We’re two metal artists doing what we do — and it all took off on social media,” said Shane Henderson.
Most sales of Metal Art of Wisconsin and Flags by Justis occur through their websites, though they do occasionally get walk-in customers.
“These are patriotic products, so we automatically attract military, law enforcement, and other heroes — the heroes of this nation,” said the elder Henderson.
Seven years ago, in line with their respect for and focus on American heroes, they started a program called Flags for Fortitude. It’s the charitable portion of their work. “We ask for nothing in return — we donate our goods to heroes,” said Shane Henderson.
To date, they’ve donated over $250,000 worth of products to veterans, military, police officers, first-line responders, crossing guards, and many others across the country. “We give to anyone in the community who is making a difference,” he said.
A police officer and his dog are shown here with a unique flag creation from the Henderson father-son team. (Courtesy Shane Henderson and Justis Henderson)
Any member of the public can nominate individuals to receive this donation, which is worth about $500.
“Doing this is what makes it all worth it for us,” said Shane Henderson (shown at right, below, in this tweet).
The entire process of building their businesses and helping those businesses grow has been a strong education for Justis Henderson, who is now 18.
“I think it’s a great experience,” he told Fox News Digital by phone. “And I think any teenager like me should get interested in something they love to do and make a career out of it.”
He said, “I’m going to continue working on the business.” Eventually, he might pursue a degree in metal art, he said; for now, the business and his artwork are his singular focus and passion.
His peers admire and appreciate what he’s doing. “I’m so young. And I basically prove that no matter what age you are, you can do anything.”
Justis Henderson also said, “I’m very excited for my future. And it’s all thanks to my dad for teaching me while I was growing up.”
This past Christmas, by the way, the father-son duo collaborated on a beautiful flag cabinet — called, aptly, the Collaboration Cabinet. “It’s basically an American flag that opens up,” said Shane Henderson — “and this one has a marbled, hand-painted flag from Justis on the front of it.”
The duo say their businesses are booming, even as they deal with the very real supply-chain issues that are dogging so many other American-based small businesses from coast to coast. “We’re competing with massive companies,” said the elder Henderson. “And we’re going through the pains of it together.”
They use locally sourced wood and other components as much as they can.
They’re also already signed up for the Made in America trade show in October 2022, which will take place in Louisville, Kentucky. It begins on Oct. 6, 2022 — National Manufacturing Day.
To learn more about the Henderson father-son businesses, including their important charitable work, check out this video.