Ind.-based Turtle Top Marking 50th Anniversary
From lightning rods to high-end shuttle buses, the Cripe family’s efforts have grown in Goshen and New Paris, Ind., over the decades, with this year marking the 50th anniversary of the launch of Turtle Top.
As reported by the Elkhart Truth, now known as a specialty bus manufacturer that serves customers like airports, health care, correctional facilities and limousine services, it started in a very different place, said Rob Cripe, a member of the fourth generation of the family.
Ernest Cripe, the founder of the company, had a heart condition and had to use an electric cart to be out in the shop as his company, Independent Protection Company, made lightning-protection equipment, Rob Cripe said.
Ernie Cripe liked to spend time in Florida, so “he developed a pop-up-type top” for vehicles that allowed his cart in there. “Bob and Dick kind of took that idea and started putting that top on pickup trucks,” Cripe said.
The company started offering the top to its installation contractors as a way to help handle more equipment. When Ernie died, his family decided to branch out. Since the top resembled a turtle shell, the Turtle Top name was born in 1962.
They started out converting Dodge vans into motorhomes, said Phil Tom, also a member of the family’s fourth generation.
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