Chamber holds 13th Annual Business Luncheon
Tom Tepe Autocenter named Business of the Year

Wanda English Burnett


Twenty-three years of service were recognized as Tom Tepe Autocenter Inc. was honored at the 13th annual business recognition luncheon sponsored by the Ripley County Chamber of Commerce.

A large crowd gathered at the Southeastern Indiana REMC Training Center in Osgood on May 12 to honor the long time service of Thomas Tepe and his employees, along with new businesses in the area.
David Baugh, chamber board member, noted that Tom Tepe first acquired the Chevrolet dealership in Versailles on August 14, 1987. Just three years later he opened the Madison dealership and finally the Milan location in 1992.

The business has grown over the years and in 1994 a new facility was built on 15 acres on Highway 350 in Milan.

The facility boasts 21,000 square feet complete with a sales department, accounting office, service department, parts department, and body shop.

The dealership sells about 800 retail units each year, moving new Chevrolets, Buicks and Pontiacs and all makes and models of used vehicles. They also service all makes and models. The dealership has an excess of 12 million dollars in sales.

The dealership that Thomas began now is in the hands of his son, Harry, as of January 1, 2010, where 35 people are employed full time.

Harry started his lifetime career when he was just 14-years-old as he changed oil and tires. He grew up in the Versailles area and graduated from Batesville High School in 1988. He graduated from Northwestern University in 2000 with a degree in high performance motorsports.

Knowing all aspects of the dealership is important for Harry. He has worked as an automotive technician, salesperson, finance manager and new car sales manager.

He currently resides in Batesville and was recently elected to the ADAI (Auto Dealers Association of Indiana) board of directors.

More importantly to the Tepes is their community involvement.

They have contributed to all local schools over the years as well as area churches and community events including the YMCA and 4-H fair. Last year was their first year to sponsor the kiddie pull for the F.A.R.M. Club show at the Osgood Fairgrounds Park.

Their biggest contribution last year was the Toys for Tots Drive where 113 families were helped, providing toys for 350 children for Christmas in a four county area: Ripley, Dearborn, Franklin, and Ohio. This was the seventh year the dealership worked to help needy families.

“It’s been very rewarding,” Tom Tepe told the crowd gathered at the business luncheon. He expressed his sincere appreciation for the award. He said his son has shown a lot of enthusiasm for the community and was proud to have him in the lead position at the dealership.

Harry said he was very honored to receive the award, but couldn’t have done it without the support of the community. He also thanked many of the staff who were at the event last week.

New businesses were recognized by Chamber President Barry Lauber. Those in attendance were: Abbott Flag Poles, Hair To Stay, RomWeber Marketplace and Schneider’s Lawn Care.

Also new members, but not in attendance at the May event are: Automotive Powertrain Specialist, Bob’s Barbeque, Chris Craft Autobody, Enhanced Nutrition Center, J&J, Mi Lady’s, Simply Clean, Soapy Joes, Southeastern Indiana Spine & Rehab Center, Trackside Pizza, Whistlestop Café, and Workarounz.
Amy Thomas, executive director of the chamber, said the local group is growing by leaps and bounds. If your business is interested in becoming a member you can call 812-689-6654.

Thomas Tepe, left, and son Harry, right, owners of Tom Tepe Autocenter Inc. accepted the Business of the Year award at the chamber's annual business luncheon.