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So who owns TeraFlex anyway? That weirdo mustache guy Dennis? Maybe it's Brooke or Jenn! Good guesses, but no. Time to finally reveal the quiet hidden hero of TeraFlex.
Special Spotlight: The Owner of TeraFlex Suspensions, Mark Falkner
Happy birthday Mark! Like many here at TeraFlex, Mark has been around the Jeeping industry a very long long long time, and we think people deserve to know just how cool and credible this Jeep suspensions expert truly is.
1957: Born in Salt Lake City, UT and grew up in a family of 10 kids.
1959: Father started company MEPCO (Military Equipment Parts Company) which bought and sold Jeep/Truck related military surplus.
1966: (Age 9) Started working on and off at Mepco.
1971-72: (Age 14 & 15) Worked at Jeep Joint in Murray, UT repairing and restoring Jeeps part-time in the evenings.
1982: Left Mepco to work as a manager at a Chevrolet service department.
1986: Bought Mepco from his father who retired, and became the new owner of Mepco.
1996: TJ Wrangler came out, opening an immediate demand for a TJ Wrangler lift kit which did not yet exist. Mark Falkner developed the first TJ Lift Kit in the world and started the brand new company TeraFlex Suspensions, which would focus solely on development and manufacturing of parts and suspensions for the Jeep Wrangler.
2015: Still here as acting President of TeraFlex.
We asked Mark to tell us about his life experience coming into the Jeep industry and eventual development of TeraFlex. The following is Mark Falkner's remarkable story:
My earliest memories are from the 1960's when I was working as a youngster in the yard. Those days I would sort through the military surplus we had purchased by auction at the different military bases. I collected 5,000 first and reverse shift forks for a T84 tranny, 140,000 MB mufflers and so on. Once we had a good count we would call the other guys in different parts of the country and trade them for some of the cool parts that they would get. After a lot of negotiating we would have enough variety to fix those old army Jeeps with just about any part they needed. Many of the big players in the industry today had their roots in the military surplus business from the 60's. My brother and I built our Jeep projects from the surplus parts we had around the yard. Everyone that had an old Jeep wanted more power so we manufactured our own adapter plates to bolt up GM and Ford engines to the old 3-speed trannys. We had a lot of fun with the early off road rally’s and races. M38A1 Army Jeep + 327ci Corvette engine = more fun whether it was in the snow rally or in the dirt. I learned a lot from those race days and engine swap successes and failures.
In the 70's the Jeep engines got bigger so we sold more lift kits along with the repair parts for the Jeeps. Chrome add on bits and tube bumpers became the must have accessories of the day. Roll bars were not standard equipment until 1976 and so we would bring a truck load of roll bars every other month from the Smitty brothers in Southern California. I don’t know how many roll bars we sold for Bronco’s, Blazers and the Jeep CJs but it was in the thousands. Another thing we did a lot of in the 70's was putting four wheel drive in the new import trucks. Toyota, Datsun and the Chevy Luv trucks became very popular with the gas embargo situation in 1974, but they didn’t offer 4x4 versions. So we made conversion kits and did a lot of the upgrades for the dealers.
The 80's brought some concerns with the engine conversion business because of the new emission control laws, but it didn’t take us long to sort that out. Stainless accessories replaced chrome and the new Square Headlamp Wrangler hit the market in 1987. The mostly functional windshield wipers and defrost improved the quality of life by leaps and bounds. I had a 1979 Golden Eagle edition CJ7 that I bolted up some YJ fenders and a grille and hood that inspired a fair number of customers to do the same. In the 60's and early 70's the Muncie 4 speed transmissions became a popular swap because they could handle the bigger V8 engines but they often had close ratio gears that caused problems for driving in places like Moab. The T18 Truck transmissions and GMs SM420 gear boxes became popular because of the 6:1 and 7:1 granny gears.
Every model of Jeep had and has weak spots. In the 60’s it was no power, in the 80’s it was transmissions and axle shafts and carburetors. The 90's continued with axle weakness issues. Even today the rear axles on JKs have an inherent shaft weakness for bending. After so many years in the business helping customers find better solutions to all the weak links in their Jeeps I found myself scrutinizing every new feature of every model and that eye for improvement evolved into the TeraFlex brand.
In 1996 we made a suspension kit for the first TJ we could get our hands on. We made it work the way we thought it should in Moab and on the highway. We liked it and so did our customers. To this day we applaud the new Jeeps and all the cool features and comforts, but we always look at making them better for our own type of off road, on road use.
Mark, was there anyone in your life who inspired and motivated you towards Jeeps? How?
My older brother Lynn raced our company Jeep in the late 60's and early 70's which I helped as pit crew. It was fun and exciting. Jeeps were the family business so it was just something we did.