Understanding American “Vetreprenuership” From MadeInAmerica.com Trade Show and Convention, former US Army Ranger, Dean Wegner describes finding his purpose on the homefront.
Talor Whitaker: Valuing patriotism, the customer, respect, quality, teamwork, and giving back, Authentically American wants to build an iconic American brand that is truly American made. With more on why he is American made is Authentically American founder and CEO Dean Wegner.
Dean Wegner: It’s a pleasure to be here.
Talor: What do you think so far when you look around and see all these manufacturers at Made in America 2019 and this network of people?
Dean: I am blown away because the last two years that I launched Authentically American has been lonely–not many people are Made in USA. Now that it’s been brought together, I realize that I’m not alone. So many people have the same ideals that we do.
Talor: And they’re enthusiastic about it. I am excited to talk to you about Authentically American. You started this as a way to bring jobs back to America and you really wanted to set that universally accepted standard for what it means to make premium products here in the USA. I’m guessing you know the responsibility that comes with slapping that Made in USA sticket on your product.
Dean: We take that seriously. At the heart of our mission is job creation. Mid-90’s when I graduated from Westpoint, there was still 50 percent of apparel made in the U.S. here. Today, it’s less than 3. In the last 30 years millions of jobs have gone overseas and we want to make a difference.
Talor: Yes! And you mention you’re a former U.S. Army Ranger–we thank you for your service. During your time, is that where that lightbulb moment came for you?
Dean: For me it was more like a dimmer switch. It just kept getting brighter and brighter. It’s interesting though, every part of Authentically American has been building throughout my career. I try to be the ethos of Authentically American celebrating patriotism and the American worker. Very intentionally, we donate 10 percent of our profits to veterans and first responders. I spent a lot of time in the branding world, and all of this comes together between Westpoint and professional experience.
Talor: Darrell Waltrip, former NASCAR driver and sports analyst–he’s your partner in all of this. Talk to me about working alongside him and joining forces.
Dean: He is. We officially launched in July of 2017 and I’m so thankful for our first investors because it was just an idea. It was a concept, a vision–fast forward a year later and I was introduced to Darrell. If you know Darrell, he is just a great American. He is a man that lives by his faith and devotes his time to his family. When we met each other, we knew that match was meant to be. He’s brought incredible credibility to the brand.
Talor: Now I want to go back to your time serving. I read a statistic that said that 25 percent of post-9/11 veterans had a motivation to start their own business. Do you see this trend? This idea of “vetreprenuership” in our society?
Dean: I absolutely do see that. There are more and more veterans that want to make a difference because they miss that when they transition out of the service. They take great pride in defending our nation. They need a purpose after they go back to normal life.
Talor: Well thank you so much for sharing your story and this powerful message.