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  • Writer's pictureTurtle Top

The Turtle Top Story

Diversity and innovation have been significant in the history of Independent Protection Company and its Turtle Top Division. The Cripe Lightning Rod Company, the predecessor, was founded in the mid-1920s by Henry H. Cripe and his sons, Earnest C. Cripe and Forrest G. Cripe. The company manufactured, installed, and serviced lightning protection systems and began operations out of a barn located on their present facilities in Goshen, Indiana. The company was sold to its primary competitor for a very high price thirty days before the 1929 stock market crash.

In 1934 during the Great Depression, Earnest C. Cripe established Independent Protection Co. Inc. in Goshen, Indiana to manufacture and install lightning protection systems. Independent Protection Co. continues to be a leading manufacturer of lightning protection for industrial, residential, and historical buildings and trees. As a highly successful Goshen industrialist and a man of great inventiveness and drive, Earnest developed the first Turtle Top and Travel Gear Conversion for a cargo van in 1962. A principal part of this conversion was the exciting lift-able roof (Turtle Top) which functioned so well and was so completely free of maintenance or repair that it won universal acceptance. The company recognized the tremendous potential for the travel and recreational market and the role that ordinary passenger vans would play. The development of the Turtle Top Division to its present diversity and innovative success was a joint effort of the late Earnest C. Cripe and his nephews, Robert E. Cripe and Richard D. Cripe who succeeded him as chief officers of the company.

Today, the fourth and fifth generations of the Cripe family are actively involved in the business. Robert E. Cripe Jr., son of Robert E. Cripe, is currently corporate Executive Vice President. His son, Evan Cripe has joined the sales team at IPC. Phil Tom Jr., the son-in-law of Richard D. Cripe, is currently Executive Vice President at Turtle Top, overseeing sales and marketing. Shane Tom, son of Phil Tom Jr., has joined the Turtle Top sales team.

The Cripe family is involved in all phases of the business and is dedicated to the integrity and quality that characterized the business and personal lives of the previous generations. The company is fortunate to enjoy excellent financial strength and a sound reputation in the business community as a progressive, dynamic member of the automotive conversion industry.

Turtle Top has supplied the automotive industry with the highest quality, innovative conversions for over fifty years. In 1978 Turtle Top initiated production of the Terra Transit bus. Turtle Top’s current bus models include the VT3, VanTerra, Terra Transit, Odyssey, and the Odyssey XL. This product line provides convenient and dependable transportation for colleges, churches, assisted living facilities, retirement communities, transportation companies, and government agencies.

Turtle Top vehicles are marketed through a network of distributors throughout the United States and Canada. Turtle Top is a member of the Mid-Sized Bus Association and has been approved as a Qualified Ford, Chevrolet, and Freightliner Vehicles Modifier. Our company has the distinction of being both Ford’s and Chevrolet’s oldest bailment pool company and enjoys an excellent rapport with the Commercial Department in Dearborn and Detroit.

Quality was a keynote of the company’s early success. New and modern technologies combined with Turtle Top’s expertise and experience make it possible to offer quality state-of-the-art products to today’s customers. Quality, Integrity, and good family values will make it possible for Independent Protection Company and its Turtle Top Division to provide the Transportation Industry with the BEST BUILT PRODUCTS IN THE INDUSTRY.


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