In a Nutshell
*A former U.S. Army captain founded the growing company a year ago.
*NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip was impressed with the patriotic business and invested.
*Fortune 500 companies are among Authentically American’s clients.
Dean Wegner knows the meaning of commitment to country.
A graduate of the United States Military Academy (West Point), Wegner served seven years in the U.S. Army, training as a helicopter pilot and a Ranger. “Going on zero to three hours sleep and one meal a day was good preparation for being an entrepreneur,” quips the former Army captain.
And that’s exactly what he is, having last year founded a start-up branded merchandise distributorship that has forged his sincere patriotism into the foundation of its unique business model.
Dean Wegner, Founder/CEO of Authentically American.
Tennessee-based Authentically American not only aims to help build customers’ brands, it strives to support U.S. companies and domestic job creation by selling only premium, competitively-priced consumer and business-branded apparel and hard good products that are 100% Made-in-the-USA. If that weren’t enough red-white-and-blue dedication, Authentically American also donates 10% of top-line revenue to nonprofits that assist military veterans and their families. “Our vision is to build an iconic American brand that is truly American-made,” says Wegner, a married father of four. “We don’t just want to do well; we want to do good.”
The veteran-owned company’s patriotic ethos helped attract the interest of NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip. The Hall-of-Fame driver and current broadcaster recently invested in Authentically American. “After hearing Dean’s passion for supporting U.S. workers by selling top quality merchandise that is made in America—and nowhere else—I was hooked. The product and story are so compelling that I decided to invest,” said Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.
NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Darrell Waltrip and Authentically American Founder Dean Wegner share a laugh. Waltrip recently invested in Authentically American.
Since launching in summer 2017, Authentically American has progressively lengthened its client roster. Now serving more than 100 organizations, clients include entities that range from mom-and-pop businesses, schools and nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies.
So far Authentically American is winning rave reviews from customers, who often share Wegner’s passion for the Made-in-the-USA. “We could not be more pleased with what you brought to our organization, and we are excited to expand our designs in the future to maintain a cutting edge of fashion for our company," Roddy Thompson, director of sales for ITW/Hobart Welding North America, says in a testimonial to Authentically American. “Your quality is truly amazing, and the fact that it is made in America fits our organization perfectly.”
Individual consumers can also make purchases of Authentically American-branded apparel on the company webstore. Speaking of that branding: Each item Authentically American provides for clients features the company’s vintage American flag logo. The distributor varies the colors on the logo to match the customer’s branding. “It’s co-branding that helps our clients to show their commitment to supporting American jobs,” says Wegner, who has a background in apparel, packaged goods, and business development.
Authentically American’s logo.
Wegner declined to share his company’s first-year revenue number, but noted that Authentically American employs five people and is excited about its prospects in 2018. “Our goal is to keep doing what we’ve done for the last year: Taking great care of our customers, providing high-quality USA-made products, and building stronger relationships with our production partners,” says Wegner.
Indeed, those production partners are central to Authentically American’s success. Wegner says he has thoroughly vetted the manufacturers to ensure items are genuine U.S.-made products. That effort has included personally visiting factories. Longer-term, Wegner is interested in establishing a vertically integrated model or signing up exclusive production partners. “Regardless of which we way go, there will never be an asterisk next to our Made-in-the-USA,” says Wegner. “The products we provide will always be produced in the United States.”