This past December, I attended a four-day conference in Phoenix, Arizona, for TurningPoint USA, where I met fellow American patriots who also share a very deep love for Israel. At the exposition, there were countless booths that sold sentimental American artifacts, but there was one particular business owner and his company that stood out.
Bret Draxten, a retired US Navy veteran, started making wooden American flags in his garage over five years ago. The hobby grew into a business he called American Grains, which today offers unique handcrafted flags and coasters.
Draxten was born in Edina, Minnesota, where he joined the United States Navy as a Seabee and valiantly served for eight years. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 2001 and went on to attend Dunwoody Institute to study drafting and design.
Besides creating the veteran-owned and operated company, he has received patents for innovative new hunting equipment, advanced as a drilling engineer, married, and had four children.
Since he began building flags out of his garage in 2014, the company has grown into a successful full-time operation. Draxten is the CEO, Jimmy Paucher is vice president, and Alex Harwood and Ben Austin work in sales support. The company, Draxten says, donates as much as it can to veterans’ causes.
In a recent Fox Business interview with Charles Payne, Draxten said they produce custom-made American flags with a goal of “putting a flag in every American’s hand and continuing our patriotism through doing that.” And he, added, that’s “one hell of a way to do it.”
Payne purchased a flag immediately after the show, and I too bought a custom-made flag with the classic engraving of “We the People” when I met Draxten in Arizona.
Draxten has a shop in Scottsdale through which he sells, in addition to one in Wellington, Colorado; the company does a lot of online sales as well. He has used the money, inter alia, to purchase a car for a wounded veteran. “We are a company that believes in supporting and helping those in need, especially our service members past and present,” American Grains states on its website (www.americangrainsusa.com). “We are not just another flag business. That’s why we donate to organizations that support our military and their families.”
When I met Draxten and Paucher in Arizona, we shared an immediate connection based on our love for both America and the American-Israeli alliance. I told them that my family lives in Jerusalem and that I am involved in many causes for both American and IDF soldiers, who both fight bravely on the front lines every day.
Upon hearing this, they eagerly showed me a picture of a custom-made flag that is a blend of the American flag and the Israeli flag. I was so touched that I asked them to tell me the story about how this came about. Paucher said that while in Dallas for the Texas State Fair, an Israeli named Eshhar Tal, who lives in Texas, was drawn to their booth by the Texas/American united flag and asked if they could incorporate the Israeli flag with the American flag. The team at American Grains was so excited and thought that it would make an amazing addition. Draxten flew back home immediately and put a hold on other work in the shop to focus on creating this united flag to work.
On his return trip to Dallas to finish up the show, he brought the flag for Tal, who was not only excited to see it but also allowed them to keep it on display until the end of the show.
As a result of the flag being displayed, they received much appreciation for their support for Israel, and other patriots ordered flags as well to show their support. When I returned to my home in New York City from Arizona, I spoke with Draxten and his team and sent them pictures of the flag I had purchased that I proudly display on the mantelpiece in my living room.
They were very moved and voiced the hope that as the company expands, they will receive many more orders from American patriots who support Israel and want to proudly display this special flag for generations to come. ■
The writer is a financial adviser who resides in New York and is involved in Israel-based and Jewish advocacy organizations.