The Heritage Flag Company started as a dream.
A dream and this 3am sketch on a grocery list.
In 2014, custom home builder and cabinet maker Heath Trigg was in the midst of working on a special project - he was building a unique bar for a local brewery that had just been started by three veterans. An artist and craftsman, Heath knew he wanted to build something beautiful for the brewery, and was inspired by whiskey and wine barrels in which the brewmasters aged beer.
"I went over to the brewery one day to look at the blueprints and saw a room that aged beer in whiskey and wine barrels. I had never heard of that. From there, I could just see it. I told them that I could make something really cool out of whiskey barrels, and they gave me a budget and told me to do anything I want."
Heath ended up building a stunning bar wrapped in whiskey staves from the barrels in which the beer was aged.
But his project wasn't complete.
"My wife and I had been trying to think of something to make the guys at Southern Pines Brewery as a surprise gift for the opening, and I woke up at 3am - dreaming about an American Flag. I sketched it out on a shopping list, and when I came down to the shop the next morning, we made it."
The community responded enormously well to the flag.
"When people saw the first flag we made and started asking for more - I told them to go online. The problem was, they kept coming back and telling me that it didn't exist. No one else was making American Flags from whiskey barrels. Today, we actually have a US patent on an American Flag made out of whisky barrels. We have a patent on an American Flag. How crazy is that?"
An unpredictable series of events led to Heath presenting another gifted flag to a Three-Star General at the Pentagon a few months later. During that trip, a private tour of Arlington changed the course of Heath's life.
"Arlington changed everything for me. While I had two very successful businesses at the time, I came home from that trip and told my guys - 'I'm chasing the flag. If you need to do something else to support your family, now is the time to start looking.' And I didn't lose a single guy."
"There are a lot of people who make unbelievable sacrifices for this country, and they just go unnoticed. I didn't even know what a gold star family was before all of this - and now, some of the most special flags we make have a 22 carat gold star gilded in them."
In talking with Health, the passion in his eyes is undeniable. This is what he was meant to do. Of that, he is certain.
"The best thing I've learned throughout this whole process is the amount of good people who are out there. We've had purple heart presentations, we've had quadruple amputees, people injured in accidents that should never have lived. We've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars with these flags. We've had flags auctioned off for $30,000 - for just one flag. And we've been so fortunate to help a lot of organizations who do a lot of good stuff - from cancer survivors, to military charities. It is absolutely unbelievable what has happened from this dream."
Many people ask Heath why the flag stuck. Of all the things he could have built, of all the things he could have crafted - why choose the American flag?
"In a very short amount of time, I've had the honor of meeting people all over the country, and to each person the flag means something a little different - from sacrifice and loss, to opportunity and strength. It represents a bond that unites us all as Americans. The sacrifices that some have made to defend our heritage and our freedom is something most can’t comprehend. But through it all, the American flag is a common denominator. The flag of the United States was made to unite the people, and that's exactly what it does."
Heath feels an enormous sense of pride of bringing awareness and preservation to such an important national mark.
"I love that this company has helped put the meaning of the flag into perspective - not just for me, but for a lot of people. There's a lot of people that resonate with our flags because of the texture, the heritage, and the history behind the barrels each flag is made of. That's something you can't just make up."
Heath couldn't be happier that the same group of people have stuck with him on this un-imaginable journey.
"I've surrounded myself with good people, because I know I couldn't do this by myself. We have the most incredible team here - from the craftsmen to the ladies in the shop, it's unbelievable. Every single guy here is an artist. What's so crazy about every one of these flags - is that it's not possible for any two to be the same. They're art. And that is something that absolutely, positively does not get old."
Since October of 2014, Heath has expanded his team to 14 people, and is setting his sights on further growth.
"I always say, we are on journey to the top of Mt. Everest, and we are just putting our shoes on. That's the name of our game right now. The sky is the limit. We're working really hard to focus on the quality of products that we (and our customers demand), and grow smart."
Heath assures anyone who asks that all his future moves will be based on the same vision as the company began.
"Our company is about making every single one of those flags mean something. We are going to continue to give to people who deserve it. We run a for-profit business, but in doing so are able to make money for non-profits. It's the best of both worlds. We can continue to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for people who need it. Now, there are Heritage Flags in every US state and 28 countries. It's insane. And we have not even gotten started yet."
In honor of Flag Day today, R.Riveter has teamed up with our friends at The Heritage Flag Co. to give away a Full Barrel Old Glory Flag, an R.Riveter "Grant" handbag, a leather wallet, and a Faribault Woolen Mill Co. American Flag Woolen Blanket.
Enter here to win this incredible bunch of prizes!