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Authentically American with Founder, Dean Wegner feature #101 of Together Talks

"Together Talks" feature #101: Authentically American presented by KLS, freight company

Some Background on Authentically American

Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the opportunity to speak with Authentically American and Dean Wegner, Founder. In 2017, Army Ranger and Aviator Dean Wegner created Authentically American® to help bring jobs back to America by selling competitively priced, premium branded apparel.

 

Their initial focus is on providing Corporate and Organization Branded Apparel and Accessories. Their expertise, high-quality products, and superior customer service position them as the preferred Made in USA partner for all-size companies, nonprofits, teams, schools, and events!

 

All of their shirts, jackets, socks, hats, and accessories are Made in America, so you, your business, school, or non-profit organization can be confident you're supporting American workers when you buy from Authentically American.


Priorities

Dean was a graduate of West Point Academy. Aviation was his branch after graduation which was followed by Ranger School. He spent 7 years active duty. After leaving the service Dean found work for Procter & Gamble and MARS. Fortune 500 companies were all he knew as his Father had worked within the space for over 30 years. However, Dean felt a need to try his hand at being an entrepreneur. He found that path through acquisition in 2012 when he acquired a company who made dress uniforms for the military.


While Dean was running his new company he kept coming back to a question, "What if I made an intentional choice to produce here, in the USA?" With that foundation, Dean came to the realization that he could quit chasing government contracts with his current business and instead start from scratch and build a brand. Dean told us he lives by three values, "God. Family. Country." Dean and his wife have been married 29 years with 4 children. Their 4th child was adopted from Ethiopia in 2012. Dean shared that there are over 150 million orphans in the world, and him, his wife, their family had a desire to make a difference.


That singular theme would be the motto behind creating his company. He would intentionally produce here in the country he served for and build an economic brand. Unbelievably, Dean shared a staggering stat with us, "When I graduated from West Point in '93, over 50% of clothing was made in America. Today that number is 3%." Dean and Authentically American want to change that.

Ranger School lessons

Running a company and then building one from scratch required a lot of work, effort, and sacrifice. Dean said that without his time serving, specifically in Ranger School, he is not sure he would have survived with his business today. He first described for us at its core it is a leadership course, mixed with military doctrine and tactics. The test is 72 straight days deprived of mainly food and sleep and then placed in difficult situations. Each individual is given only 1 meal per day and 2-3 hours of sleep. Out of 340 students only 70 successfully completed it.


"Enduring that is a reflection that I can accomplish most anything. But despite everything I learned from my time there, the most valuable lesson I took away was life can be challenging and difficult, so don't do it alone. At Ranger School you're assigned a ranger buddy. I still keep in touch with mine, Marine Corps Infantry Sergeant, Roy Bacci.", Dean told us.


Dean explained that the name was a representation of who they are and who they strive to be. He said many companies will play games with products designed in the US or assembled in the US for the marketing ploy. There is no tricking their customers though. In total, they have 11 states across the US for their products. Everything is made and produced here in the US, "Each item bought from Authentically American is creating American Jobs." Dean shared.


In addition to starting a new company in such a saturated market, Dean said they had to go through some growing pains. One was learning how few consumers care where their clothing is produced. This coincided with the company trying to figure out where their brand resonates. Coming out of Covid, they made a great realization that would change the trajectory of their company. Dean explained, "We realized we can't be all things to all people. We understood riches are the niches. We understood who our brand resonated with and could gear our marketing efforts to be very targeted."


Authentically American discovered that their community was veteran-owned businesses and charities supporting veterans. Pride of country and supporting this country made the alignment of values a perfect fit. Dean said this one change has put them in position to thrive moving forward.

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Quality

Dean said regardless of how good a product is it takes one thing to close and retain a customer, product experience. Luckily for Authentically American they not only provide a terrific product experience, but it is backed by amazing products. Their top selling item are their USA themed socks. A television host wore them on the broadcast and in front of 2 million viewers said they were his favorite socks. Dean said there was one key thing he did, "He didn't mention how we were made in the US, instead he said we are his favorite pair because they are so soft, comfortable, and have such a fun patriotic design."


Dean said this is how they sell their products. They show the benefits and WOW factor first. Once the consumer is interested and likes the product they get to take it home with stating that it is made here in the US.


Tunnel to Towers was another pivotal moment for Authentically American. Dean shared with us how this foundation was created. It was birthed out of 9/11, a firefighter who was not working heard what was happening and tried to get to the towers. However due to traffic he could not. He put on 60 lbs of his gear and ran 5 miles. Tragically he lost his life. Yearly they ran a memorial run in his honor. Fast forward to today they have raised over $200 million.


Dean told us a year and a half ago he was introduced to their marketing officer, Larry Olson. Larry told Dean that they only serve Veterans and First Responders. He was sure that their apparel was American made. He grabbed a few items in inventory and was shocked when nothing was American made. He gave Dean and Authentically American a chance with a short run of miscellaneous items. The feedback was tremendous. Then the craziest thing happened Dean shared, "He called me about 6 months after we started working together. He said you won't believe what I just got in the mail. Everyone who donates a minimum level gets a hat. A proud Veteran received his hat in the mail, opened it, saw there was a made in China tag. He cut it to shreds and mailed it back to the foundation with the note, "Shame on you"."


Authentically American had indeed found their community. Riches to Niches.


Make a difference

Finding their community for the brand to resonate was a challenge. Dean and his team assumed that because they were of the 3% that is American made, everyone will love the brand. Sadly most don't care, which birthed their tagline, "Where is yours made?". But they took this adversity and turned it into an opportunity with laser focus on their ideal target customer.


Dean was still skeptical, he thought that Veteran only businesses would be too small of a market with only 1% of the population who serve. He however learned that there are 400,000 Veteran-Owned businesses with over 10 employees. Also there are over 40,000 Veteran-Owned charities. Authentically American is currently working with less than 1%, which gives them such optimism.


Running his company Dean said what he enjoys most is the opportunity to make a difference. Working with companies and individuals who support their cause is creating tremendous partnerships. He said another aspect is creating sustainable American jobs. And with that he said the ability to make a difference for their entire team and employees, "One of our employees just bought her first house. Being able to contribute to that by providing her with a job and career is really unique and special." Dean shared.


Dean said one of his greatest lessons is realizing that people do care, you just have to find the right people who care. All of these lessons he is learning along the way he hopes just continues to build the foundation of Authentically American. Dean confessed he doesn't view himself as a serial entrepreneur. What is driving him is the legacy. He hopes that for generations to come this company is tied to his family and will continue to make a difference that is Authentically American.


Piece of Advice

The conversation with Dean ended with him sharing his piece of advice.

"Not going at it alone, but find your Ranger Buddy for work, for life. Also, and I share this with my kids, find something you truly love and are passionate about. Find that one thing that excites you and energizes you because you truly believe in it."


Buy from Authentically American today and use the promo code below!

FOUNDER ---> 25% off


Interested in being featured with "Together Talks"?
KLS is booking our upcoming schedule now!
Contact us as we would love to learn your story and share it amongst our audience.
Weekly we provide 2 companies our platform to expand their reach courtesy of our campaign. Let's collaborate!!!
In Closing

KLS wants to thank Dean Wegner, Founder, of Authentically American for today's "Together Talks" feature. Follow along for their journey with their social handles below!


Together Talks with Authentically American feature #101 - presented by KLS, Klimson Logistics Solutions, freight company

Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with Authentically American feature #101

*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign, "Together Talks". If you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!


Why KLS?

Our precise and reliable effort.

We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.


Our Process?

Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.

Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.

The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.

Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.

Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.

You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.

For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.

This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.


Services offered?

Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.


Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth

LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).

Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.

FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.

Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution

What makes KLS different?

There are thousands of freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.

Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.

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