Shane Henderson had no idea what he was in for when he started creating metal art as a fun project to do with his son. The business, Metal Art, began in Shane’s garage in 2013, and it quickly took over the house as well. Shane described product and materials turning his home into a disaster. He originally created flowers, trees and all sorts of metal art, but a simple post of an American flag artwork on Shane’s Instagram page quickly went viral. Thousands of orders flooded in. He, his wife and his son were busy trying to keep up with the demand.
BOOMING PRODUCT DEMAND
The business moved from his home to a shop in 2016, and Shane hired a few employees to help with the throng of orders. His well-known wooden flag with steel stripes was a hit, and Shane even had trouble keeping a supply chain for the necessary wood.
The rapid growth quickly required a move to a bigger shop in 2017. The Freedom Cabinet he introduced as a storage space for firearms or for hunting and fishing supplies was taking off as well. Shane knew he needed help in handling this quick growth and finding a bigger facility.
HELP FROM ENTREPRENEURIAL EXPERTS
He came to the UW-Green Bay Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2018, and he met SBDC Consultant David Stauffacher. David helped Shane with business strategies including ways to handle the backlog of orders, lease negotiation, financial projections and a business plan. Shane laughed, “I learned all the common mistakes small business owners make. And I learned I had made them all.” David also introduced Shane to the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) offered locally.
Shane said, “ETP was awesome! All the guest speakers provided great knowledge on taxes and payroll and business plan preparation. I made real moves in regard to my business based on the information I learned in class.”
Accomplishments with UW-Green Bay
- Business strategies
- Business plan
- Lease negotiation
- Financial projections
In 2018, Metal Art of Wisconsin moved again, this time to a 15,000-square-foot factory. The company has grown to 21 employees, including his 16-year old son who still works summers and weekends at the business. He also hired an Operations Manager to handle OSHA compliance, city permits, machinery and equipment and other details, so he could focus on being the artist again.
Shane’s newest design product hit the market in October 2019, and the Speakeasy Vault opened an entirely new customer demographic for the business. This wall-mounted storage case also boasts the biometric lock that uses finger-print identification technology. Customers love the unique and aesthetically pleasing way to keep wine and spirits out of the hands of children.
In 2019, he won the Entrepreneurial Achievement Award for Manitowoc County, and Shane wanted a way to give back to the community. He started the Flags for Fortitude program to give back to veterans and members of the military, as well as law enforcement, fire fighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, families of fallen heroes and any other hero who is making a difference in the community. Metal Art accepts picture sand nominations on their website and donates their flags to heroes several times per week.