Heath Montanye loves his country and he's not afraid to show it.

An American flag adorns the back window of his truck and on the front and back bumpers, his license plates read "REDWBLU."

"I take lot of pride in our flag," the Herman resident said. "I'm pretty patriotic."

Not surprising, the Fourth of July is his favorite holiday.

"I've grown up lighting off fireworks and all that," he said.

Montanye's love of the holiday could be because his birthday is the following day. But, whatever the reason, it is now being shared with others, thanks to a hobby turned part-time business venture.

As owner of The Shed Customs, Montanye has turned pieces of wood into works of art, with his favorite projects being American flags.

But, his venture didn't start out that way.

"The first flag I made was for the Washington County Sheriff's Department," he said.

After giving it to the sheriff's office, he posted a photo on Facebook and started getting messages from others who wanted one of their own.

Three years later, flags he's made are now in homes or businesses in Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, North Carolina and even Newfoundland.

He's made flags for military members and veterans, first responders and others.

Montanye does the work by hand, using a jigsaw and other tools. He doesn't use a pattern, just measurements he developed himself. When it's time for painting, he tapes off the different areas and paints the flag by hand or uses stencils he's made out of vinyl. He also adds an epoxy finish. At times, he turns to a friend, Drew Clayton, to do airbrush painting to give the flag more dimension and, on occasion, works with another local resident, Casey Sok, if he wants to add any metal pieces.

While the flags are custom made, Montanye said the reaction he gets from customers is typically the same — they are speechless.

"There's a couple of people when I've given them their flags, they can't talk," he said. "They almost start crying."

One of those was a man who served his country and was deployed three times. He won a flag as part of a raffle.

"He was speechless," Montanye said. "He wanted the flag so bad because it meant something to him."

The man has kept in contact with Montanye, even ordering another flag from him.

"He's told me many times that, when he goes home at night and looks up at the flag, it just makes him feel good," Montanye said.

Getting that type of a reaction is rewarding.

"It feels good to know that I made somebody happy with something I made from scratch," he said.

Montanye hopes one day to be able to do the work full-time and has been adding projects, such as tables, to his offerings. But, until then, he continues to work as a heavy equipment operator for Cargill in Blair.

Though he's always enjoyed art and painting, making flags out of wood isn't something Montanye envisioned himself doing, mainly because there are a lot of people out there who makes them.

But, at the encouragement of others, he got started and is thankful people have responded favorably to his work.

"It's fun, I like to do it and it's neat to know people want and like my stuff," he said.

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