Turtle Top: One Year Later

It is no secret the Turtle Top family and team went through a whirlwind over the past 17 months. After being approached and attempting to sell the company in June 2017, Independent Protection Company, a family company and Turtle Top’s parent organization, reacquired the commercial bus division on October 19, 2017.

“We literally started from scratch,” Phil Tom, vice president, said. “We are proud to be back in New Paris, Indiana, where it all began 56 years ago.”

With a renewed confidence, crews began a systematic rebuilding and started producing vehicles just weeks after the first load of materials were set back in place.

“Now we have the time to catch our breath and reflect on all we have accomplished together this year, and give thanks,” he said.

Through the efforts of many, including a dedicated distributor network, Turtle Top now has its strongest backlog in company history. Most of its 200,000 square-foot facility is being utilized, yet the company has room to grow as the needs of customers and the industry change.

“Our production staff is working closer together than ever before, which creates comradery and helps the team hold each other accountable,” said Vice President Rob Cripe. “The products are being produced more efficiently, which increases our level of quality and integrity.”

The Turtle Top management team (from left): Shane Tom, Phil Tom, Tom Craig and Matt Sausaman (Rob Cripe not pictured)

Additionally, the staff have increased an already paramount focus on service after the sale.

“We simply make sure our distributors and customers have every tool imaginable and have that familiar and reliable voice on the other line ready to react to their needs,” said Shane Tom, part of the fifth generation of the Cripe / Tom family at Turtle Top.

Today, the commercial bus pioneer continues to focus on building safe, reliable commercial and luxury bus products best in initial quality and designed for years of use. They continuously look forward to meeting what operators in various market segments desire, so they can run efficiently, safely and effectively.

“In just one year, we have launched two redesigned models, updated two others and continue to improve all model platforms as a whole,” Matt Sausaman, general manager, said. “Our goal is to once again stand on top of our industry as the leader in innovation, quality and finish.”

Models such as the Vanterra, VT3 and Terra Transit XL are all new for 2019. The Odyssey XL had recent cosmetic updates and the Odyssey is slated for updates in 2019. With the core of the original team returning and the fourth and fifth generations of the founders involved, Turtle Top stands ready to take on the challenges of their customers.

After just one year, the company’s production lines are full as they grow in various market segments, including Federal Transit Administration-/state-funded, parking, tour and charter, assisted living and livery.

“Many thanks to our distributors and loyal customers for standing behind us and giving us the chance to turn the screws of our operation to better meet their needs,” Phil Tom said. “Whether we have been together since the beginning or just a short while, we are so proud to call you a part of the Turtle Top family.”

New buses fill a production line on the campus at Turtle Top.

The team also gives credit to loyal vendors who stuck with them and used their expertise to help support their return.

“Thank you also to our hard-working team for the amount of prayer, sweat and dedication each has put forth the last year,” Cripe said. “What we have built together will provide for us all in the future and impact the lives of everyone who trusts us to be their partner.”

“Although this year has created many challenges, we have worked to overcome them,” Phil Tom said. “We’ve learned from every opportunity and made our organization even stronger than it’s been before.”

“Also, we are just excited about the future and will continue to work hard every day, listening and reacting to customers and distributors,” Shane Tom said.

Turtle Top is strong and looking poised to continue building vehicles that outlast the rest and give the best price-to-product relationship in the industry. The company’s commitment is to never waiver on giving the market a viable product and stand behind that product with warranties that match.

“Give customers the best overall product, be the easiest to do business with and provide a relationship long after the sale; that’s the Turtle Top way,” Sausaman said. “Not just this year, but every year to come.”