UVSC graduate stars in new reality show, Family Armor
Go to work, shoot and blow up cars, come home, take care of the family. For Trent Kimball, CEO and president of Texas Armory Corporation (TAC) and former UVSC student, this is all part of a day’s work.
“The weapons part of the job is a lot of fun, like being able to shoot an AK-47 at a car and show the client that it’s not going to go through,” Kimball said.
Kimball, who received his Associate’s of Science from UVSC, stars in the reality show Family Armor with his family and co-workers. The show, which premiered Nov. 19 on the TLC channel, documents Kimball’s business and his home life with his wife and six children.
Kimball’s company is in the business of armoring cars, that is, making them bulletproof and bomb resistant. He does his work for many of the world’s top ranking officials. Since TAC is one of few legitimate car armories in America, and because its clientele includes presidents of states from around the world (including the Pope), they have received considerable attention.
“We attract a lot of interest,” Kimball said. “Back in April or May CNN did a feature about us, and a TLC producer in L.A. saw it and started contacting us about doing a reality show for the network. … That’s how it all got started.”
As anyone who enlists for a reality show might expect, the Kimball family’s lives soon became subject to the scrutiny of numerous cameras. Despite this being uncomfortable at first, Kimball said that after a while you start to forget about it.
“It’s an adjustment,” Kimball said. “At first, it’s really uncomfortable having three cameras and 15-20 people around all the time. But by the third or fourth day, you get used to it. … Sometimes they catch some stuff you weren’t ready for them to catch, but that’s what reality TV does.”
One thing caught on camera is the religious observances of the Kimball family, who are Mormon. When asked how he felt about this, Kimball said it really wasn’t a big deal.
“They told us from the beginning that TLC doesn’t do shock reality shows,” Kimball said. “Being Mormon, they of course got us going to church and having family home evening. But they weren’t trying to make it shocking–it was just part of the show.”
The main focus of the show is on Kimball’s business of armoring cars. To do so, TAC begins by stripping the vehicle down to its frame and inserting “opaque armor” into all the car’s cavities. Once they do this, they replace the stock glass with transparent ballistic glass that can range from four to six inches in thickness.
“I always relate it to heart surgery,” Kimball said. “Basically, we perform major surgery on these vehicles.”
I asked Kimball if my Honda Accord could be armored in case someone tries to take me out while I’m driving around campus. He took my inquiry seriously, saying that for AK-47 level protection, I’d be looking at about a $70,000 cost. For handgun protection, it would be about $50,000. He did warn, however, that the Accord should be the V-6 model, otherwise the added weight might pose problems. I have the four cylinder model, so I guess I’m out of luck.
While testing the armor on the vehicles is an entertaining part of the job, Kimball also gets to add James Bond-esque gadgets to his clients’ cars. There are many options in this area, including shocking door handles, a deployable smoke screen, a road tack system that lays down tacks from the rear and non-magnetic lining to the bottom of the car to prevent magnetic bombs from being attached to the vehicle.
Kimball said many of these ideas have been suggested by clients and that new ideas continue to come up. For instance, he said they are putting an espresso machine in one of the cars being worked on.
Though Kimball said that school and studying weren’t exactly his forte, he did learn valuable skills while he was at UVSC that he took with him to TAC.
“My goal at UVSC was to get an Associate’s degree, and to set goals and accomplish them,” Kimball said. “I think that’s where education helps the most.”