***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***
By Kevin Killough, Powell Tribune
Photo: Courtesy Powell Tribune
In the spring, Wiggins Construction LLC began aggressively pushing a new promotion, offering a free AR-15 rifle with the purchase of a new roof. The campaign generated a lot of praise and controversy on social media and elsewhere, and it received local and national media coverage.
In April, Wiggins Construction’s then-marketing director, Matt Thomas, told Fox Business that the company had more than 120 people around the state inquire about getting a new roof. The roofing promotion was set to run through the end of the year, and Thomas told the Tribune that the company was booked up with other construction jobs for nearly the next two years.
“As much business as we want, we can have it,” Wiggins Construction co-owner Josh Wiggins said in April.
However, the Powell company appears to have gone dark following a change in ownership, with some customers complaining of poor work and an inability to get in touch with the company.
Basin resident Tony Harrison is taking legal action against Wiggins Construction, alleging in a pending lawsuit that the company defrauded him out of over $45,000.
Two other Big Horn Basin residents are making similar claims against the company, but say they don’t want to spend the legal fees for a settlement they don’t believe will ever be paid.
“This is way bigger than screwing over one person,” Harrison said.
Two customers in the Powell area have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Wyoming Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit; the BBB suspended Wiggins Construction’s accreditation on Aug. 19, after the company failed to respond to the complaints.
Multiple calls to the main number for Wiggins Construction seeking comment for this story were not returned. Thomas, the former customer relations and marketing director, said he is no longer with the company. Reached at a private number, former co-owner Todd Wiggins said he has also severed ties with the business. He referred questions to his brother, Josh Wiggins, who the Tribune was unable to reach.
Harrison hired Wiggins Construction earlier this year to build a home on his property in Basin. In his lawsuit, Harrison says he paid the company $66,100 from a construction loan he took out. However, he says Wiggins Construction only performed about $28,000 in excavation and foundation work before abandoning the project.
The lawsuit Harrison filed this month against Wiggins Construction and Josh and Todd Wiggins alleges breach of contract and fraud, accusing the company of taking money for services that were never rendered.
The suit is asking Wiggins Construction to pay back $45,145, which includes Harrison’s legal fees so far.
In an interview, Harrison said the work Wiggins Construction did on the foundation was substandard. No floor joists or framing for the house were ever completed after the work on the foundation. In late June, Harrison said Josh Wiggins told him Wiggins Construction had money stolen from it and he wouldn’t be able to complete the rest of the work Harrison had hired the company to do.
Harrison said he’s talked to other area residents, who claim to have similar experiences with the company.
Stan and Debbie LaBlue paid Wiggins Construction over $90,000 to set up their doublewide mobile home northeast of Powell, and build a garage and backyard patio.
In California, Stan worked decades as a truck driver and Debbie spent most of her career as a supervisor in a warehouse. Like many former residents of the Golden State, they wanted to get away from the politics and high cost of living in California, and decided to spend their retirement in Wyoming.
But their move to the Cowboy State hasn’t gone as planned. The LaBlues said not only did Wiggins Construction not complete the work it was paid to do, what work the company did complete was shoddy.
The LaBlues expected to move into their house in April, when Wiggins Construction estimated the work would be complete. However, the residence wasn’t ready by the April date. Having already sold their place in California, the LaBlues came out to Wyoming and stayed weeks in hotels and an Airbnb rental. Rather than continue paying for lodging, they eventually moved into their home before it had heat, water or sewer.
Wiggins Construction poured the foundation and set up the home, but much of the work, Stan LaBlue said, wasn’t done properly. One worker from another company, he said, fell through the floor in a hallway where there was nothing but tile over a space between studs, along the seam of the doublewide.
By that point, the couple had already cut a few checks to Wiggins Construction totaling over $60,000. In June, Wiggins Construction reorganized as Breianna Wiggins Construction LLC, and the LaBlues made out a final check directly to Breianna Wiggins for $20,667, dated June 18, to complete the work on their home. Debbie LaBlue said Josh Wiggins kept assuring them the work would proceed, but it never happened.
At one point, a lumber company threatened to put a lien on the LaBlue’s property for materials that Wiggins Construction had not paid for. The LaBlues said they had paid Wiggins Construction for the materials, but had to cut a $7,000 check to the lumber company to avoid a lien.
“They were coming after us,” Debbie LaBlue said.
Today, their house has heat, water and sewer, but it’s missing siding. The concrete for the garage and sidewalks is unlevel or unfinished. The drainage is all wrong, meaning water will run toward the house. Wiggins Construction put rebar down for the patio, but never poured the concrete. Wiggins also left a bunch of extra concrete on the approach to the garage, which the LaBlues had to tear up. It will cost them over $400 to dispose of the material.
Cody Regional Health
The LaBlues have since hired another company to complete the patio, and the LaBlues’ son, Arend, is finishing the garage, which was left with a few walls, no drywall, uneven concrete, and no roof.
Debbie LaBlue said they received the free AR-15 rifle Wiggins promised — a photo of the couple posing with their gun and the company’s marketing manager was featured in a story highlighting the promotion — but they have since sold it.
The LaBlues contacted lawyers, but eventually decided it wasn’t worth the cost to pursue legal action.
“We’re not rich. We’re running out of money, and we’ll never see a dime from them [Wiggins Construction],” Stan LaBlue said.
“You can’t get blood out of a turnip,” Arend LaBlue added.
They filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Wyoming Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit, and are hoping they can help prevent others from getting taken.
Mike Foster also filed complaints with the attorney general and BBB, saying he had similar experiences with the company.
Foster hired Wiggins Construction in the spring of 2020 to repair the roof on his father’s mobile home, which is on the same lot as his own house. Foster dealt with Todd Wiggins on that job and said the work was done properly and on time. Wiggins Construction even used photos of the house, with Foster’s permission, in promotional materials for the AR-15 rifle giveaway.
Based on that experience, Foster hired Wiggins Construction again in December 2020 to build his new house. As material prices were rising, Foster said Josh Wiggins asked for an advance to buy the materials before prices climbed higher. Foster paid Wiggins Construction $42,500 to order doors, windows, tile, flooring, and cabinets. Foster said the windows and cabinets were delivered, but he never saw the rest.
“These materials just didn’t show up,” Foster said.
Wiggins Construction, Foster said, poured the foundation and put up the frame of the house, but that’s where the work ended. Foster said he spoke weekly with Josh Wiggins, and Wiggins gave him different reasons why the work wasn’t proceeding. Foster said Wiggins at first told him the siding hadn’t come in, but when Foster called the supplier to find out what was causing the delay, he was told no order for siding had been placed.
Finally, in July, Foster decided to fire the company.
“It came to a point where we couldn’t believe anything he [Josh Wiggins] said,” Foster said.
Wiggins Construction came under fire from several area residents on Facebook in July, around the time that the company took down its website, changed its name to “Breinna Wiggins Construction” on Facebook and created the new LLC.
In a July Facebook post, the company sought to address what happened, saying the changes were partially the results of a change in ownership. The company also denied various accusations that had been made on the platform.
“The bottom line is this. Wiggins Construction is not going out of business, we are not currently in a law suit, we did not steal $400,000. And please don’t believe everything you read online,” the company wrote on July 11. “We are looking forward to serving more customers and knocking out more roofs this year.”
However, in the comment section below the post, a couple customers posted in August that they were having a hard time reaching the company.
“Wiggins recently put a new and expensive roof on my house. The new roof seems to be excellent with the exception of the need for a gutter apron required to keep rain water out of my sunroom,” one area resident wrote on Aug. 19. “Why won’t you answer your phone or return my calls?”
Another request for a callback was posted days later, but by Friday, the entire Breinna Wiggins Construction LLC Facebook page had been deleted.
Tips for dealing with contractors
Most municipalities, including the cities of Powell and Cody, require general contractors to hold a license and be properly insured. However, rural Park and Big Horn counties do not have any such requirements.
The Better Business Bureau recommends that people research contractors before hiring them. Individuals can verify licenses and insurance, ask the company for references, get all estimates in writing and get a signed contract that specifies who will obtain permits and who is responsible for cleanup. It’s also a good idea to get a lien waiver that states that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work.
Lastly, never pay a contractor up front for any work. Arrange a payment schedule, the BBB recommends, that staggers the payments at certain intervals when parts of the project are completed satisfactorily. All checks should be written out to the company and never to individuals.
***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***