Hatcher is the inadvertent founder, owner, marketer, customer service representative and creative designer behind MNNTHBX, manufacturer of American-made aftermarket parts for the Honda Ruckus and Grom. It’s a simple operation and Hatcher does just about everything besides the actual machine work. He hands that part off to his long-time associates and riding buddies, twin brothers in fact, that own and operate a machine shop in his region near Deal’s Gap.
The scooter that caused such concern for Hatcher’s sanity was a Ruckus, purchased on a whim to use for easy jaunts around town.
“I bought the Ruckus with the intention of taking it to the beach, getting a cup of coffee or newspaper, that type of thing,” explains Hatcher. “I had no idea there was an aftermarket for those whatsoever.”
Even if he had known, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much anyway. Hatcher has long been into tinkering with machines and had some experience in the customization world. He and his machine shop friends had done custom work on their freestyle stand-up Jet-Skis around 15 years prior, projects that eventually led to some sales and modest aspirations.
“We made a few knick-knacks to improve our own jet-skis and ended up selling a couple of those off. The goal all along was to kick back $100 or $200 a month so we could go buy new helmets or something without our wives complaining. We rode that for a long time and eventually moved into motorcycles.”
Hatcher is no stranger to life on two-wheels; he’s owned a number of different bikes throughout his 30 years as a motorcyclist and has experience both on and off road. The Ruckus, though, was unlike anything he’d owned and it was particularly appealing to his inventive side.
“I started fixing the Ruckus up. It lends itself to custom work because of the lack of body work and whatnot. I started making kick-knacks, doing much the same as before, and my end goal was to make $100 or $200 a month and be able to blow that.”
When he started looking around the Ruckus aftermarket at the time, Hatcher found it glutted with parts of questionable quality. Most were cheap mass-market import pieces that, in Hatcher’s words, were “sub-rated junk.” So he gradually started designing and building kit that satisfied his critical demands and word of his work eventually made its way onto Internet forums.
“I’m a perfectionist in the highest sense and as the parts slowly got out it kind of took off on its own. I didn’t really put any effort into selling this stuff. At that point I’d been a health inspector for the State of Tennessee for about 15 years and it turned out that I had two jobs as it became more successful. Two jobs was the last thing I needed. I’m not really a materialistic person; I’m a happy-go-lucky type and would rather have the enjoyment of life than a whole bunch of money. So I left the state job and pursued this Ruckus thing.
“Inadvertently my product kind of stood out amongst the crowd because it was U.S. made and high-quality stuff. It’s been a fun ride and has exploded far beyond anything I ever anticipated.”
When it finally came time to start a legitimate business, Hatcher found himself at a crossroads when it came to naming his shop.
“Back when Al Gore invented the Internet, I sat down the first time and needed to create an email address. The Alice in Chains song ‘Man in the Box’ happened to be on the radio. I was just grasping at straws for email addresses so I took ‘Man in the Box’ and ripped all the vowels out and that’s what I was left with. So that was my email, still is, and when I initially was on any forum, before I sold anything, I used the same thing.
“Then as we started to sell the $100 a month Jet-Ski parts people knew me only by my forum screen name. That carried over to the Ruckus, and people just referred to me as MNNTHBX. When I went full-time I struggled with the decision, ‘do I drop the worst business name in history?’ or, if I do that, ‘am I going to temporarily lose a lot of this because I have so many return customers?’
“In the end, I thought it was so bad I’d go ahead and take advantage of that and just stayed there. It works well because if you go to Google or Bing by the time you get to the second N it’s what comes up, because nobody else is dumb enough to use a name like that.”
The name hasn’t proven to be a problem in the least, and Hatcher is now just weeks away from moving into a larger shop to help accommodate the increased demand. His machine shop buddies, who used to accept contract work from other companies as well, are now almost exclusively occupied with MNNTHBX orders.
Some of his most successful parts have been the DORF Seat Frame, a bolt-on CNC Billet aluminum piece that lowers and lengthens the perch. The Turtlehead LED Taillight has also been a huge seller, having surpassed the 5000 unit mark in the year he’s been an “official” business. There’s also the Dingleberry Plate Mount, the Lazy Eye headlight, Jockstrap Frame Brace and other, uniquely named pieces that have contributed to a wide, vibrant Ruckus customization community.
“I think the customer and the market embraced it so much because you don’t have to be a highly talented fabricator or custom chopper builder to really modify a Ruckus. They’re so ridiculously easy to work on, it opens up to everybody that’s watched the Teutuls for years and kind of dreamed of that. It opens up that door so you can do it at your house without breaking the bank or needing a tremendous skill set to do that. It certainly is a fun little side niche of motorcycling, no doubt.”
Fun has been a primary motivating factor in all of this. Aside from building parts, Hatcher is an active Ruckus rider, a pastime that has brought unbridled joy as well as an unexpected sense of freedom.
“The Ruckus, in general, has honestly taught me a lot about motorcycling. I wasn’t too bad of an egotistical motorcyclist, I don’t think. But since I’ve started fixing these up we’ve got probably 20 of my circle of friends on these Ruckus’ now, among other big bikes. I mean we’re all mainstream motorcyclists as well, but it’s a bit liberating, for lack of a better word, to get out and ride a Ruckus. You’re not worried about how good you look to the women and you’re not worried about who’s the fastest… It really just frees you up to enjoy the ride and sort of reminds you why you started with motorcycles in the first place, like when you were young. We just have a blast.”
And ride they do. According to Hatcher he and his friends get together once or twice a year for a 400-mile Ruckus trip, in addition to daily rides and weekend excursions.
“They’re extremely comfortable. You can go put 200 miles a day on one without being in a whole lot of misery. That’s probably comparable to 1200 miles on a real motorcycle because you’re certainly not getting there fast.”
There’s another element to factor in if you plan to get from point A to B on a Ruckus, according to Hatcher, and that’s the reception you get nearly anywhere you go.
“What I was shocked at, and still am to this day, is how every demographic of human being on the planet seems to love it. I’ve owned some fairly exotic street bikes in my life and they don’t hold a candle. You get mobbed if you stop at a gas station; you’re there for 45 minutes and can’t get away from people. It’s Red Hat Society little-old-ladies, farmers, teenagers, everybody. You stop at a red light or stop sign and you’ll get your picture taken, windows will roll down and people will start asking you questions. It’s continual. I was shocked, I mean I think they’re neat but I was just blown away by how the entire world seems to be enamored with it.
“We get pulled over by the police with a decent amount of regularity, but it’s almost always just to find out what you’re doing and where to get this bike, how much they are. It’s the same line of questioning you get from everybody else.
“We’ve had guys that will jump off MV Agustas or nice Aprilias and come over and just gawk at this stuff.”
Despite the inherent fun of it all, Hatcher takes business very seriously and is deeply committed to producing high-quality, unique products for his customers.
“I do have all the confidence in the world that my product is far superior to the garage-built stuff or imported product.
“I don’t know if this is good business, whatsoever, but the market is saturated with a lot of cookie-cutter parts where basically five companies produce what looks like the exact same part. From a dollar standpoint I could manufacture those really easily and probably make a whole lot of money, but I’ve always stuck to my guns on the fact that, because this is still enthusiast-based for me, I only have enjoyment if I innovate or design something that doesn’t exist. So generally I avoid at all cost any product that’s on the market.”
This passion has carried over to another, newer Honda offering, the Grom. MNNTHBX now offers a number of hard parts for the Grom, such as dual underbody exhaust, fender eliminators with integrated lights, steering dampers and more.
It may be that Hatcher’s “youthful ego” took off the day he brought home the Ruckus, but it seems that his youthful spirit remains well intact. Head over the MNNTHBX.com to check out the parts selection and to see photos of Hatcher and his friends’ creations in action.