For the Shirleys, who own the North Carolina-based towing and recovery company that the show is based on, the phenomenon that has become Lizard Lick Towing is mind-boggling. The show in its fourth season, which airs new episodes on Monday nights on the TruTV cable network, has gone from a segment during the variety show, All Worked Up, to becoming one of the network’s most popular and successful program — broadcast across the United States and seven international countries.
Much of the show’s success and notoriety has come from not only the exploits of the Lizard Lick staff as they face the challenges of repossessing vehicles and property from irate and physically confrontational owners — who often storm the business in an attempt to repossess their repossessions — but also from people that make up the business.
Ron, the leader of the company, is also an ordained minister — armed with good people skills, a tenacious attitude for getting target repos and endless supply of “Ronisms” — his own unique quotes use to access a situation, vent anger or confuse opponents. His wife Amy, known as the “First Lady of Lizard Lick”, is a no-nonsense businesswoman who balances being a mother, office manager and the company’s central braintrust together with her zeal for power lifting and competing in mixed martial arts. Bobby, Ron’s best friend and a true southern ladies’ man, accompanies him along on repos to keep owners at a distance — no matter how large the challenger or the number of them.
Together with Lizard Lick’s other colorful staff members, the ensemble has powered the show to dizzying heights. And with the recent announcement posted on the Ron’s Facebook fan page stating that TruTV has asked for another 13 episodes to be filmed, Lizard Lick’s popularity and success is set to rise even further.
“Most shows usually run for a while and networks will evaluate if the want the programs to continue. With TruTV, when we have finished filming a season, they’ve immediately called us and said they wanted us to film more. That speaks volumes about how the networks listens to the fans and what the fans want. Our fans voices’ are what keeps this show driving and we wouldn’t be where we are without them,” Ron said. “When the show took off and TruTV’s network representatives began to show us the numbers that we were doing, we were as confused as Mike Tyson at a spelling bee. We never anticipated it, we’re a bunch of home-grown country people who work to make ends meet. But to sit back and think about how much the show has grown is numbing. Nothing has changed as far as who we are either — we still live in the same houses, drive the same cars, treat our family and friends the same and put a smile on peoples’ face.”
The Ronisms have been a source of the show’s popularity and are often seen repeated across social media by fans of the show. Inspired by quotes from his grandfather, father and professional wrestling legend “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (who appeared on the show in season three), Ron mixes his own style and wit to make his memorable catch phrases come to life. But beyond the timeless one-liners that Ron unleashes on the show, lies an even deeper story of the Ronisms — one that relates to Christian values.
“Most fans will notice that I never cuss on the show — when I became a born-again Christian, I had to clean up my foul mouth. It was a challenge, especially when I was upset,” Ron said. “So I started using these sayings that I had heard from my father, grandfather and wrestlers used to vent my frustration. Eventually it became second nature. Another reason is that when I say something to someone, I want it to stick with them — rather than something that is just said.”
Fans of the show have spoken out on social media about the Shirleys’ potential as role models for young men and women, with Ron and Amy’s emphasis on family, Christian values, hard work and stewardship to less fortunate individuals endearing their supporters.
“We’re by no means perfect — we all make mistakes — but we’re very big believers in doing things, not saying them. The whole purpose on us being TV is that we want people to see who we are and what we’re about,” Ron said. “If people choose us as role models, I think it’s great, but none of us are perfect. I don’t want anyone to think that I am better than anyone else — if they view me as someone who tries to live what they believe, do the best I can do, tell the truth and still believe a handshake means something, then I don’t mind being a role model. But we want people to realize that we’re not anything special — we’re simple people, living a simple life — but if they can learn anything from Amy and myself it’s that anyone can make a difference.”
The Lizard Lick crew’s appearance in Birmingham is also very heartwarming for the entire cast, as it allows them to meet one of their largest and most loyal fan bases in the country. Alabama ranks in the top three states in viewership for the show — a strong show of support that everyone at Lizard Lick is very grateful for.
“Alabama is a very special state. When it comes to sports, the State of Alabama probably has the most dedicate and loyal fans in the entire nation. It’s one of the few states that when there is a belief in something, they endorse it and stand behind it,” Ron said. “We just honored that Alabama is one of our top three states for fans — as it’s a state for fans. Whether you support the Crimson Tide or the Auburn Tigers, we have a lot of love for Alabama and it’s pretty obvious they have a lot of love for us as well.”
For information on the Deer Expo, visit www.birminghamdeershow.com and www.lizardlicktowing.com.