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Savage Tactical: Veteran plaques taken to new heights

You’ve seen the awards — the plaques with a nice matte, a few ribbons, maybe some airborne wings and a CIB alongside a picture or two. They sometimes come with a personal inscription that reads something like “For service and excellence in 1st Ranger Battalion,” or some such equivalent. You can tell that there is an incredible amount of love behind those awards, but the pieces themselves are generally the same across the board and the actual value of the piece isn’t all that high.

That’s where “Savage Tactical” comes in. Started and run by Craig Bohlman, some serious time and effort gets put into every plaque or award created. Bohlman crafts them together with heart and dignity, and his work has quickly made the rounds in the Ranger community — and has begun to expand far beyond that.

“I’m working as late as 4 a.m. some nights. A four-day weekend for me means four days of uninterrupted time to grind and build; to work and hustle,” he told me.

He’s made a name for himself doing a lot more than just plaques for those who have left the service — his custom pieces, flags, and even cornhole boards are just a few more examples of what he’s capable of, and pushes out frequently. Bohlman has seemed to master the balance of crafting unique art with his hands like tradesman of old alongside the online sale and delivery systems of the 21st Century.

Warrior artists of honest-to-god skill are not so common in this day and age, so I was excited to speak with Craig in regards to his road to Savage Tactical and the inner workings of his business.

Craig grew up in Washington, Illinois, and prior to his military service grew up watching his mother and how inclined she was toward arts and crafts. On top of this, he grew up with experience in the construction realm. The whole process of building a house from the ground up, especially the trim work toward the end, “resonated with me. I can look back and see now that it had a very significant part in my decisions later in life.”

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Craig in his shop — where the magic happens.

Fast forward, and Craig Bohlman is serving in the Army in the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. In fact, although he spends an obscene amount of time building his business, Craig is still in the active duty military.

“I got into the business sort of by accident — I was initially starting to make a plaque for someone, and I already had a CNC router machine at my house as well as a Co2 Laser cutter/engraver. At the time, I was messing around with them and was a sponge, learning everything there was to learn about them and their capabilities.

“I had seen so many plaques and awards throughout my years in the military that were just boring, cookie cutter kind of things. Every award shop in town (and across the country) uses off-the-shelf items, so you’d get this huge award for someone with like a 1” unit insignia on it or the metal airborne wings you pin on when you graduate. There really wasn’t any creativity being put into them; there wasn’t any real personalization going into them to really identify what that person did or what they were all about either as a person or a Ranger.

“I knew I wanted to make something better — I knew I could make something better. I wanted to make pieces that stand out, that grab your attention and have people asking ‘Where did you get that made?’ I wanted to think outside the box and use my resources to find and sometimes use real life training items, gear — physical things that they use on a day-to-day basis within their job.”

And from there, Craig only hopes to grow. The quality of his work really does speak for itself — check out some of his items on his company’s Facebook feed.

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This is work made by his own hands. He spends countless late nights in his garage laboring over these things because it’s his passion: “To be able to start from nothing and end with something physical that you’ve built — whether it’s for yourself or for someone else — it’s very gratifying. It gives me a certain kind of pride that you can’t get anywhere else. I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked by so many people to create these things. I take great pride in my work and I want to continue to work with my hands (and machines, because they’re just as fun!).”

Like any successful military entrepreneur, Craig applies the discipline and work ethic he received from the military to his work. “There have been countless times where you’re told [in the military to] ‘figure it out.’ And you do — doesn’t matter if you have all the resources on hand or nothing at all. Doesn’t matter if you have a bunch of people to help you out or none at all. You have to build trust in yourself as a person and know your strengths and weaknesses.” It’s this sort of philosophy that not only makes Craig successful, but any veteran small business owner successful as well.

“My favorite part has been taking someone’s idea that they’ve had and turning it into a reality. I enjoy the reactions, and the look on their faces if I get to deliver it to them in-person. It’s a good feeling. I like to think that they can see the attention to detail and thought that went into making it, and that it represents not only their accomplishments, but also the amount of thought that their buddies, squad, company, or significant other has put into getting them something truly special.”

People want to show their appreciation to those who they served with or those they love. When they go with Craig Bohlman, they pick a vendor who puts real love, dedication, and serious time and skill into these plaques.

Check out Savage Tactical here.

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Pictures provided by Mr. Bohlman.

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Penny Miller
Guest

Great article on Craig and his Savage Tactical! My son, Andrew told me about his site and how impressed he was by Craig.

Penny Miller
Etsy.com/shop/pinelandtradingpost

Mic-Mac
Member
Mic-Mac

Thank you Luke. I am always looking for American made products and if the business is Veteran Owned even better.

Susan B
Member

Craig has great quality stuff. I will keep him in mind if I know someone looking for that special Ranger gift or award. Love the flags. Thanks for the article Luke. Love hearing about the crafts that active duty and veterans get involved in.

texj3
Member
texj3

Thank you Luke for this article and for highlighting this business.

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