By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A construction company that won global attention when it offered a free rifle with every new roof is now the target of customer ire because of project delays.
However, the remaining partner in Wiggins Construction in Powell said the reports have amounted to exaggerations and half-truths.
“I’m basically just doing my best at this point, trying to keep up with what I can, to do what I can to try to basically resolve what we have left,” says Josh Wiggins, who with his brother Todd co-founded Wiggins Construction in 2013. “We’ve not backed out of any contracts, we’re just behind because we’ve lost our employees… and so we’re doing our best to resolve our issues and to keep moving forward.”
This spring, as a marketing campaign, the company offered customers who ordered a new roof or new building a free AR-15 rifle.
And for a few months, it worked great. Wiggins Construction was a media darling for the Fox News audience. The stance of the owners on Second Amendment rights was popular with conservative Americans, and support came from around the world.
“Somebody sent a message from the UK, saying ‘Hey, come do my roof, you know, we can’t own an AR-15 here’,” Matt Thomas, then-marketing director for Wiggins Construction, told Cowboy State Daily in April.
At the time, the promotion did what it was meant to do — the company lined up job after job. But Josh said troubles began when the partnership faltered this spring.
“We probably had ($1.5 million) in projects lined up,” Josh Wiggins said recalls about the beginning of 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 had a falling out this June, the business 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 legally still partners.
Josh said the management issues have caused delays, which have spurred disgruntled clients to spread what he labels as half-truths on social media. Those rumors, in combination with the departure of his brother from the day-to-day business, have caused his company’s reputation to plummet.
A news article about the company’s problems told just one side of the story, Josh said, because the company’s legal advisors cautioned him not to talk to the press. And when that story was posted on Facebook, the comments were anything but positive.
But Josh said the company has not violated any contracts it had with clients – rather, the work has been significantly delayed because of COVID-related supply issues, compounded by the management split.
“We were planning on doing everything,” he said. “I mean, obviously, we were struggling with employees, and with timeframes. You know, we ordered a set of doors, and they finally showed up after five months, I think. Windows were kind of the same story. So supplies were a huge thing. And for some reason, people just don’t couldn’t understand that. And so we have people that basically walked away from us, and didn’t even give us the chance to do what we said we would do, and now are causing issues even more so in the company.”
The comments on social media were more than just pointed at his business – Josh said his family was targeted as well.
“My family has been attacked personally, my wife, on social media, and I think that that’s not professional, for people to attack her,” he said. “She’s not an owner. She’s my wife. Social media just opens the doors for people to say whatever they want sometimes, which is obviously a good thing in some ways, but it’s a bad thing when it comes to ruining people and destroying their reputations.”
Between the management split — which has taken Wiggins Construction from more than 20 employees down to three — and the supply issues, Josh Wiggins said that the company’s ability to do business in a timely manner has been completely affected.
“Our goal all along was to do business with integrity, and to proceed in business,” he explains. “I mean, I have sunk my life savings into this to try to preserve what I could out of it, but I’m out of options right now other than to just keep going day by day and to try to pay our bills.”
Wiggins noted that social media, which had raised his company’s visibility to a national stage in the spring, has turned out to be just as much to blame for his family’s struggles now.
“My goal at this point is to try to preserve my name and be able to walk through town with dignity,” he said. “And that’s what I’m going to try to do.”