Indiana University East Chancellor Nasser Paydar announced today (Aug. 27) the naming of IU East’s Middlefork Hall on the Richmond, Ind., campus in honor of former Richmond businessman Tom Raper.
The building will be renamed Tom Raper Hall in recognition of Raper’s commitment of $2.17 million to support the campus. The gift is the largest in IU East’s history, according to an IU release.
“This unprecedented commitment to Indiana University East builds on Tom Raper’s longstanding dedication to advancing the mission of this campus,” Paydar said. “His exceptional generosity will enable IU East to provide even higher levels of knowledge, economic development, and culture to the residents in this part of the state.”
Paydar said that IU East will use the funds in a variety of ways to strengthen its leadership role as the region’s bachelor’s and master’s institution.
“We are experiencing record enrollment and planning for more growth,” Paydar said. “With this comes the need for capital improvements, expansion of academic programs, and enhanced student life opportunities. Tom Raper is impacting all of these areas, and as a result, is advancing the overall excellence of IU East. Individual students and communities across our region will benefit for generations to come.”
The announcement follows IU East’s Celebration of Campus and Community event earlier this summer, which replaced a traditional chancellor installation ceremony. Paydar decided to forgo an installation to use the funds for campus enhancements instead.
Raper said there is no better investment than one’s education.
“Suzanne and I believe in the power of people investing in themselves and their future through education,” Raper said. “This gift to IU East is special for us because it is an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the Richmond community. With IU East’s new mission and overall growth, we are confident that graduates will provide strong leadership to the Richmond area.”
In 1991, he established the Tom Raper Scholarship to benefit hardworking, deserving students who are committed to building their success in east central Indiana. More than 90 scholarships have been awarded from the endowment in the past 15 years.
Raper brought national recognition to Richmond by building the nation’s largest recreational vehicle dealership, Tom Raper RVs. From humble beginnings with a used car lot of fewer than 10 cars in 1964, Raper grew the business into a 60-acre complex in Richmond with 275 employees and a worldwide customer base. In 2002, he sold the business, which still bears his name.
April marks the 45th anniversary of Tom Raper Inc., founded by Tom Raper and currently owned by Richmond, Ind., native David Bane.
The company that is today known as Tom Raper RVs began on a small $40-per-month rented lot and sold only used cars, according to a news release. Through a work ethic that is still upheld throughout all divisions, Tom Raper RVs continues to have its home base on a 60-acre complex in Richmond, with a satellite dealership on the highly trafficked Route 4 in Fairfield, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. This second location was opened five years ago and houses the largest indoor showroom in the state of Ohio.
“We are truly excited to celebrate 45 years of business building wonderful lifetime relationships with our customers,” stated Bane, who purchased the company from Tom Raper in 2002 after serving as general manager since 1999. “I certainly thank God for his blessings and guidance, and we continue to follow the same Christian principles in doing business as Tom did when he owned the company.”
The two RV divisions are the largest in the company, and Tom Raper Homes continues to be the top manufactured housing dealer in Indiana. Another division, Tom Raper Trailers, sells horse, stock and cargo trailers throughout the Midwest and was started in 2002.
Bane further commented, “Tom Raper RVs has always been the place in the Midwest to fulfill dreams of travel and time with family and friends, no matter what your passion – whether a diesel motorhome, pop-up camper or even a horse trailer – it’s all here. We are fortunate to have the biggest service department in the Midwest and the largest parts stores in a five- state area.”
Both locations of Tom Raper RVs will be having an Anniversary Sale today (April 15) through Saturday and April 21-25.