- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Ryan Fecteau
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
As an integrated fire systems, design, build, service, maintenance, engineering, fabrication and supply company, Wiginton Corporation is one of the most well-known and respected firms in the construction industry. With a distinguished list of national and regional clients and projects, Wiginton’s portfolio defines its expertise, resources and geographical reach necessary to efficiently execute both international engineering and exporting engagements as well as national design-build installations. Headquartered in Sanford, Florida, Wiginton manages 13 locations, including offices in North Carolina and Georgia.
Originally founded as Wiginton Fire Sprinklers Inc. in 1967 by Joe Wiginton, Wiginton began in Orlando, Florida, before the arrival of Disney or the adoption of mandatory fire sprinklers in building codes. After being denied skilled union craftsmen to install his systems, Joe had no choice but to hire and train his own elite field forces. In 1972, along with a handful of other local contractors, Joe established the Central Florida Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and developed an apprenticeship program in collaboration with other independent merit shop contractors.
Wiginton began expanding the company throughout Florida, opening branches in West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Miami and eventually further up the East Coast. The significant growth that Wiginton experienced allowed Joe to divide the company into specialized divisions including Wiginton Fire Protection Engineering Inc., Wiginton Fire Systems and Quality Fabrication & Supply. Today Joe’s sons, Alan and Don Wiginton, are leading the company with Don serving as chairman and CEO and Alan as vice chairman.
In defining success within the company, Don views the ability to provide opportunity for others as a major aspect of the company’s mission. “That continuity is what really drives this company,” he says. “We want to create a place and an entity of which everyone involved can be proud.” This philosophy has been instilled in the company by way of handing ownership over to the employees. In 2007, Wiginton implemented an employee stock option plan (ESOP) and is now a 100 percent employee-owned company.
While Wiginton had always been a family-owned and -operated firm, the company is transitioning into its third generation of leadership with Mark Erickson as the president and chief operations officer. “We are very pleased with the way things are going with the ESOP program,” shares Don. “Mark is doing a great job in the leadership position and morale within the company is as good as it has ever been.”
Working in the commercial and industrial sector, Wiginton has garnered the opportunity to work with numerous high-profile clients. The company recently completed a project for LAN Airlines at the Miami International Airport. The project involved the construction of a 72,000-square-foot aircraft maintenance hangar capable of housing a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The facility is protected by a high-expansion foam system, two wet systems and aqueous film-forming foam hose lines. Wiginton also installed two ground water storage tanks and three fire pumps to supply the necessary water demand. Other recent clients for Wiginton have included Southern Wine and Spirits and numerous Preferred Freezer Services facilities throughout the U.S.
Wiginton, through its subsidiary, Quality Fabrication & Supply, has recently built a mechanical fabrication plant to help mechanical contractors increase their throughput capacity and reduce labor cost through pre-fabricating chiller piping that was traditionally welded together piece by piece in the field.
Old meets new
As the baby-boom generation nears retirement and millennials enter the workforce, many companies in the construction industry are witnessing a shift between the two generations in regard to values, work ethic and what the younger generation is seeking in an employer. In adjusting to this shift, Wiginton is examining its methods of approach to attracting new employees. “We like to bring in new people from different backgrounds and success levels in life,” says Don. “We’re looking at ways to provide opportunity for success perhaps faster than some older methods. It is a balancing act, though; you have to be patient in this industry.”
With the addition of new philosophies, methods and generations, Don says that Wiginton is headed in the right direction. As the company looks to expand in the Southeast, the transition of management is being conducted ideally. “I’m very proud of the way our senior leadership is going about turning the reigns over to the next wave of management with such a high degree of grace,” shares Don. “I think that our ability to keep our older leadership’s wisdom in place is proving to be helpful while still allowing new ideas to be implemented in order to build upon the principles that have brought us to where we are today.”
While the methods of senior management and younger generations converge, Wiginton Fire Systems continues to provide opportunities for growth, innovation and job satisfaction. These aspects are reflected by its quality people who provide knowledge and expertise in order to keep every client satisfied.
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