Last year, BenShot surprised employees with a unique Christmas bonus: guns.
The company, which manufactures novelty glassware in northeastern Wisconsin, wanted to give workers a memorable gift — which actually came in the form of a gift card to allow each worker to buy the gun of his or her choosing.
This year, the company behind "bulletproof" glassware opted for a cash bonus. When asked why, Ben Wolfgram, "co-conspirator" at BenShot, said, "most of the team have guns now."
As part of the gift last year, the company paid for a firearm safety training course held in BenShot's warehouse. Now, a group of employees compete in local gun competitions and shoot together in their spare time.
The company came from humble beginnings. It was founded in 2015 in the garage of father and son team, Bruce and Ben Wolfgram.
According to Ben, 2019 was a "great year." The company, which manufactures bullet-embedded glassware, recently completed construction on a new glass factory and increased its workforce from 16 to 25. Even with the competitive job market, BenShot didn't experience any problems filling the new positions.
When the story about the gift giveaway went viral last year, it helped the company in terms of exposure, but it wasn't without its challenges.
"One major hurdle [that] small, mainly online businesses have is building trust with potential customers," Wolfgram said. "The media exposure let potential customers connect with BenShot and see we are a real company with real people making products here in the U.S.A."
Much of BenShot's business comes from repeat customers who buy gifts for different occasions throughout the year. While the company's claim to fame is the bulletproof whiskey glass, a new bestseller swaps the ammo for a golf ball.
Based in Hortonville, Wis., BenShot's original location was in an old Thomas Edison Furniture Factory. To hold on to a part of that history, the company used reclaimed bricks, doors, windows and other materials. They also had a local artist paint a large mural of a firearm in the new building.
The company doesn't have any rules against concealed carry at the production facility.