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Building a Successful Fire Sprinkler System Company and a Legacy

When Joe Wiginton founded Wiginton Fire Systems as Wiginton Fire Sprinklers in 1967, the world looked different. Joe started the company in the pre-Disney World small town of Orlando. His sons — future company leaders Don and Alan — were only in elementary school. In fact, fire sprinklers were not yet mandatory in buildings.

However, Joe was a visionary leader in the industry. With the right work ethic and employees, Joe Wiginton carved a unique space that built the foundation for one of today’s most trusted fire sprinkler companies to change fire safety forever.

Investing in Employees from the Start (1960s)

Joe tried to hire skilled union craftsmen to install his systems, but he was denied. He decided to hire and train his own elite field forces, paving the way for the foundation of our model and differentiating it from other fire sprinkler companies. Our highly skilled and dedicated merit shop craftsman give us a competitive edge over national companies.

Writing a New Chapter in Fire Safety (1970s-1980s)

In 1972, Joe, along with other local contractors, founded the Central Florida Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). They developed an apprenticeship program in collaboration with other independent merit shop contractors. However, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) declined to provide training to merit shop contractors to assist Joe and other merit shop contractors. In response, the contractors formed the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) in 1981. Today, the two organizations compete for members and share a positive influence.

Wiginton Team members shaking hands
People standing outside of a building

Expanding Throughout Florida (Early 1980s)

During the mid-1980s, Wiginton grew with new locations across Florida with four new branches in major cities.

In 1987, Joe revolutionized how we do business by converting his fabrication shop into an independent distributor and fabricator, creating Quality Fabrication and Supply. He wanted to achieve better pricing from manufacturers as a stocking distributor, but still control scheduling as a contractor. Quality Fabrication and Supply achieved Joe’s vision.

Climbing the Company Ladder (Late 1980s)

From 1985-1990, Don and Alan served as branch managers for the Tampa and Miami locations, respectively. Don began to cultivate and develop the business beyond the Florida borders. He set his sights on the public refrigerated warehousing industry. Today, we are licensed in the majority of all 50 states and actively participate as an associate member of the International Association of Refrigerated Warehousers (IARW).

Wiginton Opening New Branches
Joe Wiginton Headshot

Looking to a New Generation of Leaders and Competition Among Fire Sprinkler Companies (Early 1990s)

In 1990, Wiginton experienced unexpected changes. Several top company leaders resigned and departed to begin new, competing fire sprinkler system companies. Don and Alan took control of top leadership and brought new life to Wiginton.

By 1992, we were growing again. We fostered our strong culture of unity and teamwork. Focus shifted to effective leadership traits and personal development. We supported this with an incentive compensation plan to balance individual and team rewards.

Through Don and Alan’s leadership, we expanded our fabrication business, focused our teams on the right markets and widened our service offerings.  Wiginton Fire Sprinklers became Wiginton Fire Systems, reflecting our service focus on not only water based sprinkler systems, but also on fire alarms, foam systems and non-water based suppression systems such as fire extinguishers and kitchen hood systems.

Establishing Industry Expertise (Late 1990s)

Joe received the National Fire Sprinkler Association’s Golden Sprinkler Award in 1995, which is the NFSA’s highest honor presented annually to an individual who dedicated their career to fire sprinklers and advancing the industry.

20th anniversary of wiginton
34 Years in Business

Growing Beyond Florida (2000s-2010s)

In 2006, we relocated our corporate headquarters to Sanford, Florida. The following year, in 2007, the Wiginton family and minority shareholders sold the company back to the employees and we became a 100% employee-owned company to better empower the growth and success of each employee.

The 2010s ushered in an exciting era of expansion for us. In 2010, we opened our first location outside of Florida in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2014, we expanded into Charlotte, North Carolina.

Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead (2010s-Present)

In 2017, we celebrated 50 years in business. Today, Don Wiginton is our chairman and CEO, and Alan Wiginton is Vice Chairman.  Mark Erickson, a 30 year Wiginton employee, took the reins as President and COO to usher in the next generation of Wiginton leadership. Our core values of integrity, dedication, quality and innovation will lead us into the next 50 years and beyond as a leading fully integrated fire protection company.

Looking forward

Learn More About Our Fire Sprinkler System Company Near You

With locations throughout the Southeast United States and licenses to work in most states, there’s no project we can’t handle. Speak with our professionals today about our innovative fire protection services and how they can contribute to your project’s success.

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Be a Part of the Wiginton Legacy

See for yourself why our employees love working with us. Explore our fire alarm and fire sprinkler jobs available for experienced professionals and industry newcomers alike. Don’t miss your opportunity to grow with us.

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Employee Spotlight

Robert B. Cariveau

33 Years of Service

What inspired you to seek growth within this company?

Early on, it was my wife and family. After moving into design, it was a sense of accomplishment and wanting to learn all there is to know about the business.

What is it about this company you enjoy most?

It’s a fun place to work with many opportunities for anyone that works hard and wants to learn.

First Title
Helper Apprentice
Current Title
Corporate Vice President of Service