PETROLEUM DIRECTORY: Wiggy’s Inc.: Insulated products built for comfort
The only sleeping bag manufacturer in the U.S. keeps users warm and dry with patented process and 21st century materials
Q. Where is Wiggy’s located?
A. Our offices and manufacturing plant are located at 2482 Industrial Boulevard, Grand Junction, Colo. Last June we opened a fully supported retail operation — Wiggy’s-Alaska! — in Anchorage to better serve our Alaska customers. It’s in a little mall next to the Pink Elephant Car Wash at 8225 Old Seward Highway. People can buy our products there or try them on and order from the on-line catalog. They’ll save shipping charges by buying them there, though. The phone number is (907) 336-1330, and Marc Taylor has it open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Q. What year was the company founded, who founded it, and what was its original name?
A. I started the company in 1988. It was and still is named Wiggy’s Inc. We started manufacturing sleeping bags for the consumer market and then got a contract from the government for 40,000 sleeping bags. First I rented the building and then, five years later, I bought it. The building is around 30,000 square feet, including storage.
Q. Who heads up Wiggy’s and who is on its senior management team?
A. I run the operation, supported by a highly trained workforce at our factory.
Q. What products does Wiggy’s offer?
A. The company manufactures and specializes in sleeping bags and cold weather clothing. We offer other products, such as our small plane insulated engine cover, waders, doggie beds and more. Our sleeping bags and extreme cold weather outerwear are so good that to purchase any other brand is a waste of money. To purchase a sleeping bag with any less quality could not only mean a very unpleasant camping trip, it could also mean your life. I say that because I believe a sleeping bag is the most important piece of equipment you take into the field.
The single-most important component of any insulated product, be it a sleeping bag, parka, bib, snowsuit, booties or mittens, is the insulation inserted into these products. All insulated Wiggy’s products have only one form of insulator, Lamilite. It is the most efficient form of sleeping bag or outerwear garment insulation in existence. I stand by that statement because it’s been tested time and again.
In 1964, the then-Celanese Corp. patented Lamilite primarily for pillows and furniture stuffing. It wasn’t until 1986 that I developed the necessary technology that allowed me to use this remarkable fiber for sleeping bags and outerwear.
Q. Who are the company’s main clients?
A. A big percentage of our clientele is military — about 65 percent — and an order can be hundreds or thousands of sleeping bags. Civilians make up the rest — sleeping bags, clothing items, etc. We are an authorized supplier for ConocoPhillips because the garments have to be non-flammable, anti-static fabric. Our products are very much in demand by Alaska’s oil industry.
Q. How many employees does Wiggy’s have?
A. We have 40 employees here in Grand Junction; most of them are sewing operators. Probably 80 percent of what we ship goes by UPS. We’re the only sleeping bag company in the United States.
Q. Is your company expanding any of its operations and/or locations?
A. So far, there hasn’t been the need to expand our facilities. We run everything from one location, and that keeps it simple. When we’re overloaded with orders, we just run more shifts until we get the job done.
Q. What is Wiggy’s main strength, i.e., its edge over the competition?
A. Without question, it’s the quality of our products and our service. Our Lamilite insulation is the best in the world. We also guarantee our sleeping bags for a lifetime of use. If a seam opens, the zipper breaks or the Lamilite insulation loses its loft or separates or clumps anywhere, Wiggy’s will repair or replace the bag at no charge. We really don’t have any competition for the quality products we manufacture.
Q. What new markets, clients and/or projects has Wiggy’s attracted recently?
A. Our market is always the same — people who need to be protected from the elements. In 1992, I was approached by the U.S. Marine Corps to produce a sleeping system for them that would function in a temperature range of summer time to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Several months later, I received a call from the U.S. Navy Seals requesting a system that would function from summer conditions to minus 40 degrees F. The second system has been assigned a national stock number, as requested by the U.S. Navy, NSN 8465-01-395-4094. Since its inception, the FTRSS, as it has come to be known, has become a significant part of our line. We have also adapted the overbag to all of our sleeping bags. Its versatility has made the system extremely desirable. The FTRSS is now the most widely purchased sleeping system by all of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Q. Has the company invested in any new technology in the last two years?
A. We’re always looking for new technology and new ideas. Our most recent system design improvement is we are producing Lamilite insulated boot linings which is something we never did before.
Q. What is the most challenging job the company has undertaken?
A. It wouldn’t be a job. The challenging thing is educating people to understand that what we produce is not marginally, but significantly, better than anything on the market in terms of sleeping bags, clothing, etc. Lamilite is the finest insulated medium in the world. It’s the only insulated material that is not affected by water. We’ve been supplying the Barrow Police Department since 1991 and, if something works in Barrow, Alaska, in the winter, it will work anywhere.
Q. What do you see as your company’s biggest challenge in the next five years?
A. Keeping up with sales.
Q. What is the average length of time employees work for the company?
A. Our workforce is very stable. Employees come and stay until retirement or relocation. We take good care of our people.
Q. Does your company maintain a Web site?
A. Yes. It’s www.wiggys.com. We have an outstanding line of clothing, backpacks, sleeping bags, shelters, pet accessories and specialty items that can be ordered over our secure online system. Take a look, read about them, and you’ll see why these products are in such demand.
Q. How often do you get to Alaska?
A. Actually, I’ve never been to Alaska but I’m coming up this summer. I’ve had a long-time relationship with the late Joe Redington Sr., and his two grandsons who also race in the Iditarod. I’ve provided sleeping bags and clothing for the boys as a sponsor, and I make them available at a discount to other mushers in the race.