POWELL, WY – Many businesses will offer incentives to new customers to get them to choose their business over the competition.
But a Powell company has gone the extra mile – by offering a free AR-15 gun for every new roof.
Matt Thomas is the marketing director for Wiggins Construction in Powell. He says in their business, they’ve noticed a number of people moving to Wyoming in an effort to experience a level of freedom they perhaps haven’t felt in their home state. So Thomas says the owners of the company 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 says. “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.”
And it’s a gift that is certainly generating attention. Thomas says they’ve received some very pointed feedback about their offer.
““We’ve got calls from all over the United States, and the world, asking us to come do a roof. 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 reports.
And in an era of increasing attention on gun regulation, Thomas says their promotion has caught the attention of national news media.
“From Cowboy State Daily, it went to USA Today, it’s been shared to Yahoo, we’ve been on Fox twice,” he says. “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.”
The promotion started on April 12, and Thomas says they’ve already booked over 15 roofing jobs in that time period, with the goal of putting 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 projects.
And they’ve expanded the promotion 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 explains. “That’s even more than the actual cost of the gun, just because it’s a cause that we really stand behind and everything like that.”
But he points out that the promotion isn’t 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 to which the company is adhering.
“Even though Wyoming is the only state in the United States that does not have any gun transfer laws,” Thomas explains, “we just want to make sure that everything we did was above par. So our lawyer has drafted up a form stating that they are 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.”
But Thomas says that 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 points out. “We just kind of wanted something tangible to put in their hands, besides just a thank you card.”