Chris Cruise

82nd Airborne Paratrooper, Founder of Cruise Customs

“For the greater good.” That’s the mantra of this week’s guest, Chris Cruise. It’s amazing how being delivered a setback can cause someone to step up to the plate and take on what turns out to be a patriotic endeavor.

After being told that he wasn’t good enough to pursue a football career, Chris enlisted in the U.S. Army and subsequently deployed to Iraq, and learned that there truly is a brotherhood in the military. Chris sees it as the best thing he ever did as it was the path that led him to meet his wife. While re-acclimating to civilian life after his service, he didn’t know what to do with himself or how to adapt his heightened sense of awareness and constant wariness into his new life as a husband and a father.

His wife Amber gave him a new mission that grew into what has become Cruise Custom Flags. He figured out that woodwork was therapeutic for him. He’d found his happy place – a place where his mind could both rest and work at the same time, in balanced concentration and clarity of purpose.

Amber wanted him to make something tied to Kentucky for his next project. They both also wanted the project to honor military service, as her father is also a veteran.

There are not many things that scream “Kentucky” more than bourbon, and not many greater symbols of military service than the flag. So, the first custom flag he made from a repurposed bourbon barrel hung in their home. The next two were Christmas gifts for both of their fathers.

The flags were so well received, he made more for some friends and family. Word spread, and requests began pouring in.

Chris says, what’s more American than a veteran handcrafted flag made out of a bourbon barrel? Bourbon, after all, is “America Spirit by law.”

In this episode you will hear:

• It really started when my wife wanted something in our home that represented her Kentucky roots and my service.
• I had a vision of having a shop full of veterans making American flags from bourbon barrels.
• Bourbon barrels once served a good purpose aging bourbon, and veterans served a good purpose and we help them both find a new purpose.
• “Never quit” is not what you do, it’s who you are.
• Generosity breeds success.
• With a never quit attitude, you’re unstoppable.
• I wish someone would have told me that I could have done my passion right out of high school without society telling me I had to climb the corporate ladder.
• I’ve got a business degree, but I could have done this right out of high school.
• I only did one deployment. That was enough for me.
• It’s hard to build a resume after you get out of the military.

• I get tunnel vision – nothing else matters – once I get focused on something – it’s on.


Special thanks to Speakeasy Podcast Network for giving Chris a place to record his interview!

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