TRIPP’S AUTO COLLISION CENTER
❱❱ Locations: Jackson/Lansing
❱❱ Employees: 30/12
❱❱ Service Bays: 40/30
❱❱ Mopar® Parts Dealer: LaFontaine Chrysler Dodge Jeep® Ram
❱❱ Customer Accommodations: Popcorn machine, refrigerator full of free pop and water, big screen TV, coffee, rides when needed
“I was a 16 year-old mowing lawns and there was a body shop in my hometown and one day someone said ‘hey kid, come on in and help us sand a car.’ By the time I was 17, I was a painter working for Maaco in Jackson.” That’s how it all started according to Phil Tripp, owner of Tripp’s Collision Centers.
After working at Maaco for almost nine years, Tripp went out on his own and started Tripp’s Collision Centers in 1988. “I was the sander and taper and painter, my wife Barbara helped me mix paint and tape cars and we built it from there.” Now he has a 26,000 square foot shop in Jackson, Michigan, and an 18,000 square foot shop in Lansing. First year sales of $90,000 ballooned into $6.7 million in sales between his two shops.
Tripp’s three sons help him run the businesses. Phillip III is General Manager of both stores, Joshua is the sales manager in Jackson, and Brandon is the store manager in Lansing. Barbara holds it all together.
“She’s the one who’s really working,” says Tripp. “I’m finally at a level where I work on the business instead of in it and she’s the one doing all the financials.”
Tripp treats everyone like family. He makes lunch for his employees at least once a week and has customer appreciation events when he’ll serve up to 150 barbecue chicken dinners. “I’m really community oriented, so I kind of do things outside the box,” says Tripp. “We’re family friendly and always have been.”
At Tripp’s Collision Centers it’s about helping people, they never charge for any work that takes less than a half hour, so they’re always busy. “I’ve been doing this for 27 years so we do spend quite a bit of time putting mirrors on, adjusting doors and putting the molding back on,” says Tripp.
“We have a whole structure of how we treat people and that’s how I built the business. When you’re working with somebody, you have to take care of them, you have to mean it.”
Tripp and his wife Barbara appear in many commercials promoting events in their area. They’ve committed thousands of dollars to car shows, cook-offs, jazz and blues festivals and the like. “I think we are unique. I don’t know how many body shops spent a million dollars in 10 years putting money back into their communities.”
Tripp trains his people himself and promotes from within. “My frame person was once a detailer, my painter was once a cleanup boy,” says Tripp. “I have a woman in the office that started here three years ago at $11 an hour – with benefits, she made over $60,000 last year. I won’t stop anybody from growing. If they get good enough, we’ll open up another shop – they can even have my job if they want it.”
When it comes to filling new positions, Tripp turns to the farming community and the restaurant business. “They seem to be able to multi-task and they know how to work hard, plus they’re used to getting up early.”