GREAT FALLS – For Chris Fehringer, every day holds the meaning of Independence Day.
His handmade products at Stars & Stripes Woodworks aim to honor service members from all branches and their sacrifices for our freedom.
"Each one has a unique story and their service, whether it be 20, 30 years or more, to this country and that’s pretty cool to think about every time I build one of these," he said.
Fehringer creates hand-crafted military memorabilia items, including flag boxes and retirement cases.
Being a veteran himself, Fehringer said his passion is to be able to help fellow service members and their families pass on their legacies for decades to come.
"They’ll get handed down over the generations, like, ‘Oh, what’s that? Oh that’s grandpa’s case when he retired from the Air Force, the Army, or whatever ’cause we do all the branches and stuff so it’s really, it’s something to be proud of that I really have a lot of pride in," he said.
In their year and a half of operations, Stars & Stripes Woodworks has a solid customer base in Great Falls with Malmstrom Air Force Base and Montana Air National Guard nearby.
But the business also now ships all over the country and the world, including to Japan, Germany and England.
While some designs are internationally bound, all of his products are bought in Montana.
"Every piece that goes out, they’re almost like a little baby. Sending it off it’s like, ‘Man, gonna make the trip and you’ll be in a new home one day,’ and yeah, so I take a lot of pride in each piece that I build," he said.
Fehringer said traits he learned in the military are now ingrained into his wood work.
"The attention to detail, the really taking pride in your work, doing it right the first time and everything like that I put that into every single one of my cases that I build," he said.
And Fehringer said his customers are not just orders, they’re fellow comrades who have served our country that deserve to be recognized.
"It’s really cool to hear all the backgrounds and where people are from and what not and what they did and what branch of service," he said.
His products are also ordered by family members in remembrance of a soldier’s service and and by those whose loved ones didn’t make it home. Fehringer said his burial cases serve to honor each fallen soldier’s sacrifice.
"This country and what it stands for and our freedoms and our rights and everything, it didn’t come cheaply. So that’s something I greatly respect and have pride in," he said.
Fehringer said the business is outgrowing his current workspace, which is housed in the family garage.
He aims to open a shop in the future and hopes to employ fellow veterans in the community.
"The goal would be eventually changing how we’re incorporated and getting employees on, but not just any employees, getting other veterans on so we can keep to our slogan, which is "American Made, Veteran Built."
Fehringer also manages all social media and website orders. For more information about Stars & Stripes Woodworks, click here to visit the website.