Turtle Top - Manufacturer of Specialty Transportation Vehicles
Corporate Info

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, a predecessor company, was founded in the mid-1920’s 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 the company’s 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.

Earnest C. Cripe established Independent Protection Company, Inc., during the great depression in 1934, in Goshen, Indiana, to manufacture and service lightning protection systems. Independent Protection Company continues to be a leading manufacturer of lightning protection for industrial, residential and historical buildings and trees.

Earnest C. Cripe, a highly successful Goshen industrialist and a man of great inventiveness and drive, developed the first Turtle Top and Travel Gear Conversion for a cargo van in 1962. A principle part of this conversion was the exciting liftable roof (Turtle Top), which functioned so well and was so completely free of maintenance or repair that it won universal acceptance.

In 1963, the company recognized the tremendous potential of 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 and Richard Cripe who succeeded him as chief officers of the company. Today, Robert E. Cripe Jr. son of Robert E. Cripe is currently corporate Executive Vice President and General Manager at Turtle Top, overseeing daily operational issues. Phil Tom, Jr., son-in-law of Richard D. Cripe, is currently corporate Executive Vice President at Turtle Top, overseeing daily sales and marketing issues.

Independent Protection Company, Inc is a closely held family business that has succeeded into the fourth generation of the Cripe family. The Cripe family is involved in all phases of the business and is dedicated to the Integrity and Quality that started with the late Henry H. Cripe and the late Earnest C. Cripe and characterized their business and personal lives. 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 forty-three years. Today Turtle Top manufactures a variety of products, of which the most recent is the Terra Transport Multi-Function School Activity Bus, a stylish 15-passenger bus built on the Chevrolet cutaway chassis. Turtle Top also manufactures Limousine Coaches for 8-23 passengers, Executive Van Transporters, Computer Labs, Drug Testing and Dental Exam Labs, Veterinary Clinics, Bloodmobiles, Communication Command Posts and Prisoner Transport Vehicles, Mobile Offices, K-9 Transportation Vans and Specialty Vehicles up to 30’ in length.

In 1979, Turtle Top initiated production of the Terra Transit bus, which provides convenient and dependable transportation for colleges, churches, nursing homes, retirement communities, transportation companies and government agencies. Turtle Top’s current bus models include the VanTerra and Terra Transport which replace passenger vans; Terra Transit and Odyssey for up to 25 passengers; and the GM Odyssey XL which offers seating for up to 37 passengers.

Turtle Top’s vehicles are marketed through over thirty-five distributors located throughout the United States. Turtle Top is a member of the Mid-Sized Bus Association and it has been approved as a Qualified Ford and Chevrolet Vehicle Modifier. Turtle Top has the distinction of being both Ford’s and Chevrolet’s oldest bailment pool company, and enjoys an excellent rapport with the Commercial/ RV/ Specialty Vehicle Departments 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.


The Turtle Top Timeline









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