Protection file

San Antonio armored and bulletproof vehicle producer files for bankruptcy protection

A San Antonio company that protects dignitaries, the wealthy and celebrities from terrorists and kidnappers by retrofitting vehicles with steel and bulletproof windows needed some protection.

Texas Armoring Corp. sought refuge with its creditors by filing for Chapter 11 receivership, listing assets and liabilities each in the range of $100,000 to $500,000.

Texas Armoring, or TAC, went viral over seven years ago with a YouTube video titled “This is what it’s like to be shot with an AK-47 in a Mercedes-Benz.”

A man in a dark suit pointed an assault rifle at the windshield of the shiny black SUV and fired a dozen shots at it – with company chairman Ronald “Trent” Kimball calmly seated behind the flying.

The shots hit the windshield but did not pass through the glass.

At the end of the demonstration, Kimball got out of the vehicle, looked at the camera and recited the company motto: “Life is precious, protect it”. The video garnered nearly 27.5 million views.

TAC’s rudimentary bankruptcy filing did not provide any details about what led it to seek protection from its creditors.

The company describes itself on its website as “the market leader in the manufacture of quality light armored cars, trucks, SUVs and other specialized vehicles”.

“When we arm a vehicle, the whole cabin is protected,” a TAC executive said in another YouTube video. “Roof, floor, windows, doors, pillars, posts, panels, firewall, back wall.” Kimball then added, “The battery box, engine computer and fuel tank.”

TAC was founded by Kimball’s father, Ronald Kimball, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who worked in Latin America and “learned firsthand how armored vehicles can save lives.”

The elder Kimball’s dream was to sell armored vehicles to the world’s elite and protect families, the TAC website says.

In 2007, the San Antonio Express-News reported how TAC – after fortifying Cadillacs, Lincolns, Lexus, Mercedes and BMWs – was upgrading its first Toyota Tundra.

The San Antonio-built truck had to look like something out of a spy novel. The limited-edition double cab would be able to withstand armour-piercing shells, protected by steel more than a quarter-inch thick. The glass in the windows would be more than 2 inches thick.

The truck doors would be filled with over 2 inches of a woven polymer to stop armour-piercing shells while preventing the doors from sagging as they would with heavier steel reinforcement. The tires have been reinforced so that the truck can still be driven if the tires are pulled.

“Other Hollywood-like features: the truck can dump push pins on the road to stop pursuers, create a smokescreen in the back, and zap intruders trying to enter, thanks to electrified door handles,” add the item.

“We call it the James Bond package,” said Trent Kimball.

In 2017, TAC announced that it would build a 50,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Honduras to meet the demand for large orders of armored vehicles. The building would allow for faster processing of high-volume orders while its 40,000-square-foot location in San Antonio focused on custom and specialty vehicles, the Express-News reported at the time.

The plant in Honduras was to produce up to 200 vehicles per year. The San Antonio workshop produced up to 80 a year.

Most of TAC’s customers are from Mexico, but it has also shipped vehicles to Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The company has put up for sale on its Facebook page a Ford F150 pickup that has been retrofitted to withstand high-powered rifles, including the AK-47 and M16. Asking price: $120,000.

TAC’s bankruptcy petition, filed Friday, lists Broadway Bank as the largest unsecured creditor, with a claim of $400,000. Other creditors include Chase Bank, which owed $36,000, and Capital One, which owed $20,000.

TAC has been in dispute with Nsima Ekere, a Houston resident who has extensive business in Nigeria. TAC installed bulletproof and armor protection features on the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 and S550 from Ekere.

In an amended complaint filed in 2020 in San Antonio State District Court, Ekere accused TAC of failing to perform two inspections and repairs as required by a maintenance agreement. He also alleged that the TAC failed to complete work in a timely manner on two 2018 Range Rover vehicles which were to be used in campaigning in the 2019 gubernatorial elections in Nigeria. He sued for breach of contract, fraud and violation of the Deceptive Marketing Practices Act.

TAC denied the allegations.

The two sides agreed to arbitrate the dispute on April 13 but were unable to reach a resolution, Chidi Anunobi, Ekere’s attorney in Houston, said Monday.

“They threatened during mediation that they were going to file for bankruptcy,” Anunobi said, adding that TAC still had the two Range Rovers.

Bankruptcy usually puts an end to ongoing lawsuits involving a debtor.

Earlier this year, Tezgen Otomotiv – a Portuguese producer of armored protective glass for vehicles – sued TAC in Bexar County, seeking less than $100,000 owed to it. TAC did not file a response.

Kimball and TAC’s bankruptcy attorney did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

pdanner@express-news.net