More than one economist has said that it will be the entrepreneurs, the folks who slug it out in the free market, (often on more than one business front) who will be the ones to play a significant role in the revitalizing of our economy, and more importantly, our nation. Why? Because the ingenuity, faith, hard work, risk taking abilities, strategies, integrity, and spirit of adventure are exactly what got this grand experiment called America going in the first place.
Todd Matlock, his wife Tina, and his two sons, Logan and Brandon are just what I am talking about here. My blessed lot in life these days is to get to tell the stories of everyday Athenians who accomplish what they set out to do, and most often “leap high buildings in a single bound” in the process. Todd and Tina arrived in Athens two decades ago, and opened Moonwalk Party and Rentals at 27430 US Hwy 72 as a part time venture. “When we came to Athens, no one knew about inflatables,” Todd says. Since then, the “single bound” into party and event rentals became, amongst other things, leaping safely about on inflatables at grand parties held everywhere from Florida to Kentucky, and from the time they were little, the boys worked the business, and Tina held it all together while Todd did his other job.
Todd’s “other identity” is a consultant for nuclear plants, especially during the inspection process. When the outdoor party season dies down in the winter, he is busy making sure that places like Browns Ferry don’t become Three Mile Island, and travels to nuclear plants all over the country. To say that the man is gifted when it comes to all kinds of machinery and what makes them tick is an understatement, and it seems to have been passed down to the boys. When just starting out his career, Todd was put in a position as part of an interview process for a job with a packaging supply company where a disabled “mystery machine” was placed in front of him, and he was told to fix it. He asked two questions, first, “What does it do?” and “Where is the on/off button?” He fixed it post haste and got the job. Todd has an Associate’s degree in electronics and a Bachelor’s in business administration, and as a young father he “met himself coming and going” when it came to getting an education and providing for his family.
Todd was doing what he enjoys on several fronts, and firmly believes that “if you do what you love, you’ll make money.” He appreciates the opportunities he has had, especially because it has made it possible for their whole family to work together. He also understands, when it comes to inflatables, that safety is key, and the Matlocks have always made sure their reputation was sterling, resulting in their customers being able to trust them.
In addition to the other two businesses, Todd and the boys would work on cars, and they all had a knack for it. The boys especially loved to install mufflers and pipes at their home, mainly for their friends, and the idea of opening a custom muffler shop behind Moonwalk was born. The boys particularly enjoy installing custom “tips,” (the heavy duty chrome mufflers that help to “trick your truck.”) It was going to be the boys’ “leap” into the free market, a building was built, the tooling finished, (complete with lifts,) and they were getting ready to open when tragedy temporarily brought their plans to a grinding halt. Their already strong faith was run through the fire and purified.
In September of 2012, Brandon left Moonwalk on his motorcycle and was heading west toward the Athens Lowe’s. The short version of what happened next is that a complete stranger shot him, and but for the intervention of God, a retired state trooper and crack EMS/Med Flight teams, he would have bled out. Logan was on the scene, too, and the family had to wait until Todd could fly in from a Midwestern nuclear plant to be with them. The trial is pending, so the details can’t be discussed here, but one of the bullets struck Brandon in the arm, the other in the back, and for awhile it was uncertain as to how much use of his arm he would regain. But, happily, the Matlocks are tough, God is good, Brandon is on the mend, and Big Daddy’s is open for business.
The boys are experienced welders, and Logan told me that one of his recent accomplishments was to put a turbo charger designed for an 18 wheeler on to his pickup truck. His grin over his triumph was infectious. Logan and Brandon feel that one of the things they bring to the market is that they “know what young people want, especially the custom stuff.” While they specialize in performance exhaust, tips, mufflers and converters, they also do minor repairs and oil changes, and Logan told me that Big Daddy’s “has the largest assortment of tips in the area.”
“Tips are what make your truck look and sound better,” he said, and he and Logan are waiting to show you just how much. The other tips are, work hard, do what you love, trust God, stick together, and watch what happens. Oh, and the name “Big Daddy?” That’s what the boys put on their caller ID for their dad…
Big Daddy’s Mufflers
27430 US Hwy 72 Athens, AL 35613
256-777-6972, 256-431-7002, 256-431-0368,
Hours: Mon-Fri 8-5
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner