By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Many businesses will offer incentives to lure new customers.
But a Powell company is putting a new spin on the practice — by offering a free rifle for every new roof.
Matt Thomas, marketing director for Wiggins Construction in Powell, said his business has noticed a number of people moving to Wyoming from other states to enjoy a level of freedom they perhaps haven’t felt in their home state.
So Thomas said the owners of Wiggins figured that giving away something unique — like an AR-15 rifle — might spark some interest and give them a leg up on their competition.
“People are moving into Wyoming to get out of the cities and to get away from the regulation and to get away from living in fear,” Thomas said. “We’re just offering it as almost like, for the people that are recently moving to Wyoming as a ‘Welcome to Wyoming’ gift, and for the people that are here, locals, just a ‘thank you’ for doing business.”
Through the promotion, Wiggins gives an AR-15 to anyone having the company install a roof on their residential or commercial property. The AR (which stands for ArmaLite Rifle) is a semi-automatic rifle that can be configured to use a variety of ammunition, but most often uses .223-caliber rounds.
And it’s a promotion that is certainly generating attention. Thomas said the company has received some very pointed feedback about its offer.
“We’ve gotten quite a bit of flack from it,” he said. “I don’t know how this story’s gotten to New Hampshire and to Chicago, Illinois, and to central California. But we are getting phone calls, voicemails from people saying all sorts of negative stuff about us, you know, stuff like ‘baby killers’, and we’re distributing weapons of mass destruction to the public.
“But here’s the thing,” Thomas continued. “None of these people are locals that are really saying this. The response from the actual public and the locals has been phenomenal — we’ve got probably three voicemails this morning from people like ‘Hey, we don’t need a roof, but we saw your ad in the Powell Tribune and we just want to say that it’s awesome, and we really support what you guys are doing.’ “
The promotion started on April 12, and Thomas said the company has already booked more than 15 roofing jobs, with the goal of booking 150 more on by the end of the promotion.
“So as long as our government doesn’t do anything to restrict us from buying more guns to give away, we’re anticipating maybe 150 to 200 rifle giveaways by the end of the year,” Thomas said.
But he noted that the promotion shouldn’t be seen as a short cut for people looking for a way to get their hands on a semi-automatic rifle — there are very important rules and regulations the company is following.
“Even though Wyoming is the only state in the United States that does not have any gun transfer laws,” Thomas said, “we just want to make sure that everything we did was above par. So our lawyer has drafted up a form stating that (the customer is) over 21 years of age, that they are not a convicted felon, and they agree to abide by all state and federal firearms laws.
“And then they’ll be signing that form, and we’ll be taking the serial number of the rifle and putting it down on the transfer of ownership form,” he added.
Thomas said even though the promotion is hitting the mark with gun enthusiasts, the company didn’t create the rifle giveaway idea to capitalize on people’s fears.
“If the government says, ‘Hey, this is no longer legal,’ we’ll stop our promotion — we want to be above par, and all of that,” he said. “We just kind of wanted something tangible to put in their hands, besides just a thank you card.”
PHOTO: Matt Thomas, center, from Wiggins Construction with Stan and Debbie LaBlue.