By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A Powell construction company’s unique marketing tactic has generated international attention.
Wiggins Construction, a small family business based in northwest Wyoming, this month began offering a free AR-15 (Armalite) rifle for every new roof it installs. And the promotion has drawn attention from around the world.
“We’ve had probably 300 missed phone calls in the past two days, upwards of 500 emails, Facebook messages, stuff like that,” said Matt Thomas, marketing director for Wiggins Construction.
He added the company estimates about 95% of the response has been positive.
And the feedback isn’t just coming from the company’s primary market in the Big Horn Basin. Thomas said Wiggins’ has received requests for jobs just a bit out of its geographic reach.
“We’ve got calls from all over the United States, and the world, asking us to come do a roof,” he said. “Somebody sent a message from the UK, saying ‘Hey, come do my roof, you know, we can’t own an AR-15 here.’ And so, there’s a little bit of humor behind it.”
But not all the attention is positive.
“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,’” Thomas said.
And in an era of increasing attention on gun regulation, Thomas said the promotion has caught the attention of a larger audience.
He said state, national, and even international media soon picked up on the story.
“From Cowboy State Daily, it went to USA Today, it’s been shared to Yahoo, we’ve been on Fox twice,” he said. “The Sun, UK Times, over in the United Kingdom has posted about it. A Russian newspaper has posted an article about it over in Russia, and we have no clue what it says because we don’t read Russian.”
Thomas pointed out that one of the reasons the company’s owners decided to conduct such a promotion was to show their support for Second Amendment rights.
“One thing that’s confused a lot of people is they said, you know, ‘How in the world can you own these guns?’” Thomas said. “I’m like, well, we live in America, and you live in America. And this is still a right that we have as a nation.
“Wyoming has the most lax gun laws in the country, hands down,” Thomas continued. “But we also have, last time I checked, the least gun violence in the country, hands down.”
But even with the relatively relaxed gun regulations in Wyoming, Thomas said the company’s owners want to go above and beyond to reassure the public that they take gun issues seriously.
“We will be conducting FFL (Federal Firearms License) background checks on anybody who would like a firearm and we do business for,” Thomas explained. “And it’s just a pretty simple process. We’ve got actually FFL dealers all over the state of Wyoming who have reached out to us in almost every single county, saying that they’ll do transfers for free for every single one of our customers.
“Today, I talked to Sheriff Scott Steward in Park County,” Thomas continued, “and he’s assured me that everything we’re doing is legal and above par.”
And the promotion has been expanded to appeal to potential customers who may not be in the market for an AR-15.
“If you don’t want the gun, we’re donating $800 in either your name or our company’s name to Serenity (Pregnancy Resource Center) in Park County,” Thomas said. “That’s even more than the actual cost of the gun, just because it’s a cause that we really stand behind.”