Shield Appliance: The story behind three appliance experts’ decision to start a local repair company

(From Left) Brian Tennant, Maddy Kennedy, and Scott Wilson stand in front of a Shield Appliance Banner at their office on E. 4th Street (Ryan Lewallen/County 17)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Five years ago, Maddy Kennedy never thought he would be running an appliance repair company with two of his best friends and co-owners, Scott Wilson and Brian Tennant.

But when an opportunity came knocking, and their old employer was servicing customers in ways that didn’t line up with their values, the three of them took a leap of faith, ended their employment, and made the jump from employee to owner of their own company- Shield Appliance.

It’s sort of like an insurance company for home appliances, Wilson said, who oversees the operation side of Shield Appliance, clients pay a monthly premium that covers up to $450 in parts and labor in the event an appliance goes out.

What appliances can be services depends entirely on how much the customer is willing to pay per month; the company offers three different options that cover everything from refrigerators and stoves to washers and dryers, like an insurance company, per Wilson.

As of right now, however, the company is not able to service water heaters, furnaces, or air conditioning units, though they hope the expand their plans to include them soon, according to Wilson.

The $450 cap applies to each individual appliance, according to Maddy, which means a client could experience a homeowner’s nightmare of having multiple appliances go down at once and Shield Appliance would be there to service all of them.

But unlike an insurance company, there is no deductible; clients can start paying their monthly premiums and if an appliance goes out, all it takes is a phone call and Shield Appliance is on the way.

A need

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When Shield Appliance opened its doors in April 2022, residents had very few options for appliance coverage with the closest thing demanding they pay a deductible to get their appliances repaired.

“Right now, it’s a terrible time for money,” Kennedy said, and believed that they could offer appliance repair services in a way that can save people money, then that was something they needed to do.

Additionally, Kennedy said, there was and is a growing trend of people using social media videos to repair their appliances themselves and hope they get lucky while others simply spend hundreds of dollars on a whole new appliance over something as simple as a five-dollar part.

Once they identified a definite need for their services, Wilson said, they decided it was time to end their respective careers at a local utility company now, not later, and take that final step into the role of business owners.

Since opening its doors, Shield Appliance has serviced dozens of customers, only one of whom was not entirely satisfied with their service, and they happily worked with that customer to make it right, Wilson said.

In a follow-up email to County 17, Kennedy wrote that the idea behind the company was based on a sense of community and spiritual awakening on how to live happily.

“And one of those things is how a person (giving) back to their community can make a world of difference in someone’s happiness,” Kennedy wrote. “That is the moment I realized the skill sets we had, would and could make a difference.”

A bond

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If it has been anyone other than Tennant and Wilson, Kennedy said, he’s not certain he would have moved on the idea for Shield Appliance.

The three of them grew a close friendship while they worked together during their previous careers, each of them amassing specific sets of skills that complement each other and are crucial to how everything at Shield Appliance comes together.

“We all have a place here at this company,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy has his marketing expertise, acquired not through formal schooling but hard-earned over decades of playing around with various techniques for imaging and video while advertising his DJ side gig. He oversees everything marketing-related for the company.

Wilson, who retired from his last job before jumping on board at Shield Appliance, has an affinity for keeping numbers organized on a spreadsheet. He’s charged with overseeing operations and with keeping the company books in order.

Tennant is a well-rounded plumber with 30 years of experience under his belt who handles one of the most important roles which is representing the company in the community while personally servicing all Shield Appliance customers.

But while they all have their individual roles, they’re still a team, according to Wilson, and it’s not uncommon for one of them to head out the door to fill whatever role is needed as they work to stay on track with their plan.

One day, the goal is to expand into all of Wyoming and eventually open multiple offices in the surrounding states.