My name is Kevin Heilman, and I live in Rogers, Minnesota with my wife Michelle, our 3 children, and two cats. I am a Veteran, having served in the US Navy from 1992-1996. I am very proud to be a Veteran, and proud to have served our great country!
so...how did this all start?
From a young age, I watched my Dad create things. We had a family business, a fishing store known as Heilman’s Bait & Tackle, located just west of Yankton, South Dakota, by Lewis & Clark Lake on the Missouri River. He would build or repair things needed to support the business. Whether he was cutting wood, or welding metal, he was creating what he needed. And he did a fine job! But in September of 1986, the rest of us discovered that God had other plans, and Dad was called home. But in those 12 short years that I had him, my Dad gave me a sense of creativity and the confidence to turn a vision into reality. It just took a lot of years to realize what Dad had given me.
Photo of my Dad, early 1970s.
the winding path...
After high school, I left for boot camp, and began a 4 year adventure. Like many of us, I grew up quick in the military. I made it through my tech schools for aircraft avionics on the SH-60F, and joined my squadron, HS-8, where I spent the rest of my active duty. We completed a couple western Pacific deployments (WESTPACs), and I left the Navy in 1996. Next stop? College! After 4 years of ramen noodles and cheap ham sandwiches, tankards of coffee, and late night studying, I graduated from South Dakota State University with my Engineering degree. My greatest achievement in college was winning the heart of my wonderful wife Michelle. We married shortly after college, and after several moves and having 3 kids, she still tolerates me!
My family, summer 2017.
Early in our marriage, we didn’t have much furniture. We had some basics, but not much else. A growing family, the decision for Michelle to be a stay-at-home Mom, and covering all the expenses associated with that just didn’t leave much for furniture or tools. But I would buy woodworking magazines and just study the articles and learn as much as I could. I loved the creativity and craftsmanship I saw. The beauty of the wood grain. It just appealed to me so much. I had taken shop classes in the past, and participated with many projects, but I wanted to build my own path. Finally, with the move to Minnesota in 2012, I had the space and the budget to begin putting this all together. I built headboards for everyone’s bed, I built night stands, desks, dressers, shelves, you name it. With every new tool, I expanded my capability and grew my skill and experience. But, eventually a house can get full of stuff! I wanted to find something I could make that had meaning, and let me continue with my passion for woodworking. Eventually, it hit me....
I discovered that making Flags was my answer. The American Flag. Stripe by stripe, star by star, with strict adherence to specifications. I finally found my calling. I build each Flag with my two hands. I build each Flag with pride. I build each Flag thinking of my fellow veterans and patriots, and ensure that I do my very best work. Our beautiful American Flag deserves nothing less.