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How It Started

Eight years ago the idea for Tactical Application Vehicles was born. Walt has been building out his own vehicles for years. The mindset behind each one was to fit the...

Eight years ago the idea for Tactical Application Vehicles was born. Walt has been building out his own vehicles for years. The mindset behind each one was to fit the lifestyle and the adventure. From surfing to biking, to camping on the beaches with friends, each vehicle was a tool for adventure.

Karen and Walt took a leap of faith and launched Tactical Application Vehicles. Here is how it started in Karen’s words.

TAV started with a dream, a Land Cruiser FJ40, and a whole lot of faith.  Building vehicles has always been a passion of Walt’s.  Growing up and thumbing through National Geographic magazines, admiring the vehicles and the geography put a spark in Walt that is still there today.  In 2014, that spark became a reality.  One Sunday afternoon at our regular lunch spot we discussed starting a business over a pitcher of Blue Moon.  I started asking Walt all the questions like “what will you offer that no one else does”,  “Which vehicles will you work on”, “What products and companies will you use”, “What should we call it”?  That afternoon, Tactical Application Vehicles was born and a business plan was in the works.  We decided to give Walt’s dream a try and we rented our first shop space.  

We decided to sell my 97’ Jeep Wrangler and we bought our first Land Cruiser FJ 40.  We both love these trucks and their functionality and decided we would start our business doing retromods on the Land Cruiser platform. 

Making a classic vehicle a little, or a lot more drivable on today's standards. These types of projects require a lot of time and Walt was only doing the business part-time after his normal work day or when he wasn’t traveling for work.   After a year and a half, a lot of praying, and a baby later, we realized we may be on to something and Walt decided to end his Federal Law Enforcement career to devote himself full time to TAV. 

We built our FJ40, made it our marketing tool and we traveled all over the country with our 1 year old daughter in tow.  We attended as many shows as we could and volunteered in teaching classes and sitting on discussion panels about our overlanding experiences. We really wanted to get our name out there.  Those were tough times because, in order to do that, we would have to close up shop (which meant no income coming in), just in hopes of getting the attention we needed to bring the builds in.  

We caught the eye of a few publications that wrote articles on our business and slowly our name was getting out there.  We realized that just because we have a passion for Land Cruisers, it might not be in our best interest to focus 100% of our business on them.  Those projects were long,  very custom, and hard for us to make projections that we needed to allow our business to grow.  We switched our vision to something more predictable and more popular which was the newer Toyota platforms.  

Walt bought his cousin’s 2009 Toyota Tacoma and started its transformation to what is now known as the Ranger Goat.  We were now marketing to a whole other audience, and we were getting very positive feedback.  Our single bay shop space began to fill up with tools that we were able to acquire over time, our schedule was starting to fill and we needed more room.  We were able to expand our space with the bay next door and we even had a front office.  Our daughter grew up in that small office while Walt was in the shop and I was on the computer doing build sheets, answering the phone, and bookkeeping.  It was hard and stressful most of the time, as all new businesses are, but looking back now, there was so much excitement, happiness, and simplicity. 

We were able to hire our first employee and eventually we got our first booth at the Overland Expo West. We were over the moon.  To us, we had made it.  Walt had attended every show since they started and this was a dream come true. Building the late model Toyotas really was a game-changer for us and really allowed us to hone in on our skills and validation.  We’re so proud of how far we’ve come and we’re so thankful for all the people that have helped us along the way.  8 years later and we now occupy 4 bays, have 7 awesome employees, countless lessons learned, and some incredible adventures under our belt.  This is such a faith-driven journey for us and we’ve never looked back.



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