Powell “Free AR-15 Roofing Company” Still in Business; Co-Founder Pushes Back Against Social Media Attacks
By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A construction company that gained worldwide attention when it offered a free gun with every new roof is now the target of anger from customers over project delays.
However, the remaining partner in Wiggins Construction in Powell said the reports were exaggerations and half-truths.
“I’m really just doing my best right now, trying to keep up with what I can, do what I can to try and fix what we have left,” said Josh Wiggins, who co-founded with his brother Todd. from Wiggins Construction in 2013. “We haven’t pulled out of any contract, we’re just lagging behind because we’ve lost our employees…so we’re doing our best to solve our problems and keep moving forward.”
This spring, as a marketing campaign, the company offered customers who ordered a new roof or new construction a free AR-15 rifle.
And for a few months it worked fine. Wiggins Construction was a media darling for the Fox News audience. The owners’ stance on Second Amendment rights was popular with conservative Americans and received support from all over the world.
“Someone sent a message from the UK and said, ‘Hey, come and do my roof, you know, we can’t own an AR-15 here,'” Matt Thomas, then marketing director of Wiggins Construction, told Cowboy State Daily in April.
Back then, the promotion did what it was supposed to do: the company arranged job after job. But Josh said the problems started when the partnership faltered this spring.
“We probably had ($1.5 million) worth of projects lined up,” Josh Wiggins recalled early this summer. “Probably a dozen or better. Between subcontractors and employees, we probably had between 13 and 15 people working.”
But when Josh and his brother got into an argument in June, the company was hit hard. Josh said he is still actively working on construction projects, but Todd is no longer part of the day-to-day business, although they are still partners legally.
Josh said the management issues have caused delays, prompting disgruntled customers to spread what he deems as half-truths on social media. Those rumours, coupled with his brother’s departure from the day-to-day business, have caused his company’s reputation to plummet.
A news article about the company’s problems only told one side of the story, Josh said, because the company’s legal counsel warned him not to talk to the press. And when that story was posted on Facebook, the response was anything but positive.
But Josh said the company hasn’t breached any contracts it had with customers — work has previously been significantly delayed due to COVID-related delivery issues, exacerbated by the management split.
“We were going to do everything,” he said. “I mean, obviously we struggled with employees and with schedules. You know, we ordered a set of doors, and they finally showed up after five months, I think. Windows was kind of the same story. So supplies were a big thing. And for some reason people just couldn’t understand that. And so we have people who basically walked away from us and didn’t even give us a chance to do what we said we would, and now they’re causing even more trouble in the company.”
The comments on social media were more than just aimed at his company – Josh said his family was also targeted.
“My family has been attacked personally, my wife, on social media, and I think that’s not professional, that people attack her,” he said. ‘She doesn’t own it. She is my wife. Social media just opens the doors for people to say what they want sometimes, which of course is a good thing in some ways, but it’s a bad thing when it comes to ruining people and destroying their reputation.”
Josh Wiggins said the company’s ability to do business in a timely manner has been completely compromised by the management split – which has reduced Wiggins Construction from more than 20 employees to three – and the delivery issues.
“Our goal has always been to do business and do business with integrity,” he explains. “I mean, I put my savings into this to try and keep what I could get out of it, but I don’t have any options right now but just go on from day to day and try to pay our bills.”
Wiggins noted that social media, which had brought his company’s visibility to a national stage in the spring, is now equally responsible for his family’s struggles.
“My goal at the moment is to try to keep my name and be able to walk through the city with dignity,” he said. “And that’s what I’m going to try to do.”