A family-owned glass company in Wisconsin that specializes in whiskey, beer, and shot glass with a bullet built into them (tagged as bulletproof by the company) gave its employees a surprising gift — $500 to purchase any gun they want.
The company is called BenShot, and they specialize in glassware with bullets embedded in them. Owner Ben Wolfgram’s intention was to provide employees with a memorable holiday present that was all about personal safety.
“We are a small, close-knit team at BenShot. I want to make sure all of the employees are safe and happy, a handgun was the perfect gift.”
The company is staffed by 16 full-time employees — a mixture of veterans, experienced gun owners, and first-time gun buyers. The employees were encouraged to choose a firearm of their choice, and use whatever remaining money they have to purchase gun accessories.
Some of his employees opted for smaller firearms, like handguns well adapted for concealed-carry. Others picked larger ones, and some even had enough money leftover for holsters and ammunition.
This is the first time his company has done anything like this, Wolfgram said. The father-son business was started in 2015 in a small garage workshop in this village of about 3,000 residents 100 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Wolfgram mentioned that he started the company as a way of spending more time with his retired father.
The father-and-son duo is also proud owners and supporters of the 2nd Amendment themselves.
“They were excited. They went home and told wives and husbands, and not everyone believed them. Guys want to buy guns and their wives won’t let them.”
The value of the gift is far beyond what most corporations provide to their workers at the holidays, with one study finding the typical company gift worth about $79 per employee. This is in total contrast to multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon, who are reputed to treat their employees like shit.
The gift is in the vein of the company’s culture and customer base/target demographic; which tends to represent law enforcement, such as police and military officers.
Wolfgram said the purchasing of firearms has been great for team building and has created an even better bond between his employees.
Chelsea Priest, marketing manager at BenShot gleefully said:
“I purchased a Smith & Wesson. I got a revolver, that’s a 38 special. It’s awesome to be a part of something like this.”
Training isn’t required to carry a firearm, but Wolfgram said the employees at BenShot were trained on gun safety.
At least two employees initially declined the gift but are considering accepting it after taking the gun-safety course the company executives required before giving the guns, Wolfgram said. “I decided not to get a gun. My husband isn’t into guns and I didn’t need one at this time,” glass technician Jan Westby stated, but added that her decision was not a political one.
Wolfgram said he wasn’t worried about workplace violence because his business has a small staff and all of the employees know each other well.
“For us, now, we have an entire armed staff,” he said. “I think that’s pretty good.”
Firearm purchases are usual in this town, where hunting is common, and the company’s decision raised no red flags with local law enforcement. The state of Wisconsin is one of the few states who does not require a permit or license for the purchase of handguns, shotguns, rifles, and other firearms.
Hortonville Village Police Chief Kristine Brownson released this statement regarding BenShots holiday gift to employees:
“Every business has to make a policy on what they want to do. It’s not mandated. If the owners feel uncomfortable purchasing firearms there is no problem with that.”
The gift raised eyebrows given the current debate about gun safety and violence. And Wolfgram said he received a few messages that aren’t friendly. He added, “But that’s life, I guess.”