This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The redrock country around Moab will be filled this next week with Jeeps capable of maneuvering through seemingly impassable terrain because of parts acquired from TeraFlex Plus.
The Murray-based company has been providing parts and service to Jeep owners for nearly half a century, but really established a niche for itself 10 years ago when Jeep introduced its Wrangler model. The Wrangler was significantly different from the classic Army Jeep, but many buyers found that its suspension system wasn't up to the demands of Utah's desert country.
Their concerns prompted Mark Falkner, who knew all about Jeep suspensions from more than a decade of tinkering with them at his dad's shop, to put on his thinking cap. The result? A flexible suspension that could add a few inches of height to a Jeep, enabling it to climb and descend formations that standard models could not handle. The company also does engine work and supplies low-range gear systems, axles and related components.
"We were recognized in the industry for having a fresh approach," said Falkner, who has overseen the transition of his father's company, Military Equipment Parts Co. (MEPCO), into Tera Manufacturing and TeraFlex Plus, the retail outlet for TeraFlex products made by the manufacturing branch and sold through nearly 300 dealerships nationwide.
It handles engine conversions and provides other accessories from roll cages to canvas tops
Sounds big, but Falkner noted that "we've never gone into this looking to be the biggest company or to have the most volume in sales. We approached mom-and-pop operations, specialty places that are more knowledgeable, and set them up as our distributors.
TeraFlex Plus does good business in Southern California and Arizona, outfitting Jeep owners who take their rigs into the desert. It also has established itself in the southeastern and northeastern United States, in areas where hunting is big. Still, its influence is greatest in and around Utah, where activities like the 40th annual Moab Jeep Safari are testimony to the popularity of off-road vehicle usage and hunting is virtually a state sport.
"If you want a Jeep outfitted for off-road performance, we can do anything or everything," said Vinnie Pratt, TeraFlex's marketing and promotions manager. "We have people who have bought all new vehicles who basically junk all of the stock components. There's a lot of demand out there for off-road performance and people willing to put money into it."
Richard Luna, 44, of South Jordan, recently put a flexible suspension on his 2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. But he has been doing business for years with Mark Falkner and his father, Don, who started MEPCO in 1959 after buying Jeep parts and other military equipment in auctions at Tooele Army Depot.
"I expect nothing but good work from them," said Luna, a construction worker who primarily uses his Jeep to traverse hunting terrain from the desert to mountains, but also uses it for city driving. "If I have a problem, they address it promptly in a professional manner. It rides just as good as a stock vehicle, which was my big concern. Once I lifted up my old Wrangler, it was pretty bumpy and acted squirrely. But with the flexible suspension, I'm convinced it rides and handles as well as a stock vehicle."
Added Murray resident Larry Higginson, a Moab Jeep Safari trail leader: "It's expensive when you try to make a vehicle specialized for an activity like off-roading. . . . My experience is they have always stood behind their work. A person who doesn't know what they want to do can get advice there from somebody who has more experience."