“I hate manufacturing,” joked Dean Wegner, founder and CEO of Authentically American, a Nashville-based apparel-making startup. To be fair, he wasn’t saying he hates all things industrial, but that it’s simply not his bailiwick. “It’s not my area of giftedness,” he added. “I’m much more into the business development and sales and marketing end of things. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had many days when the guys in manufacturing were some of my best friends!”
Wegner’s company provides U.S.-made custom branded apparel and merchandise to corporate, educational, and nonprofit clients around the country. The whole category is an $8 billion per year business, and while Authentically American is just getting started in it, it’s posted growth rates of over 300% each of the past couple years. Those rates are handily beating out the growth of its foreign-produced competition, and Wegner forecasts even stronger growth for the future now that his supply chain is fully established.
Founded two years ago, Authentically American is aimed at reshoring a chunk of production of custom branded garments that companies spend big money on each year. Wegner first had the inspiration during his days working at Procter & Gamble (P&G). “I saw all the logo items that P&G was buying over the years, and did some digging,” he said. “That’s when I discovered the huge size of the corporate- and organization-branded apparel business. And I thought, why not give companies like them a high-quality American-made choice that’s competitively priced?”
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Credit: Forbes Magazine