By Ashley Reyes
Merchant Automotive has been named the SEMA Truck & Off-Road Alliance’s (TORA) newest member spotlight company. In SEMA’s interview with Chris Ripper, the company’s director of sales and marketing, he shares Merchant Automotive’ s breakthrough moment and the company’s current projects.
SEMA: Tell us the story of your company. How did your company start?
Chris Ripper: It started by our owner getting fired from a job. It gave him the courage to open his own repair shop for repairing GM trucks with Duramax engines and Allison transmissions. This led to him developing heavy-duty products to replace the OEM parts that broke when people cranked up the horsepower on their diesel trucks.
SEMA: What was your company’s breakthrough moment?
CR: Our breakthrough moment was when sales went online and successful enough that we had to shut down our repair shop to keep up with orders.
SEMA: Tell us about your business now and projects you are currently working on.
CR: We’re positioning ourselves for growth. We didn’t lay anyone off during COVID. We opened our repair shop back up and created five new positions in the last nine months and made a serious investment in a new website.
SEMA: Tell us about a product your company is proud of.
CR: There are several. Our motor mounts are so much better than the OEM units. We have a “pump rub” kit to replace the OE transfer cases that can cause catastrophic failure. We have a few others we love that we private label for e-commerce guys.
SEMA: What advice do you have for young professionals contemplating a career in the automotive aftermarket?
CR: If you love playing with cars and trucks, there is no career more satisfying than working (getting paid) in a field that you spend so much time in anyway. Personally, I’ve been in the business for 25 years. It’s rare to stay in an industry so long. And if you end up getting involved with SEMA (I served multiple terms on the TORA, previously LTAA, select committee), you’ll develop partnerships and friendships that last a lifetime.
Fill out a TORA-member spotlight form to highlight how your company is contributing to the truck and off-road specialty-equipment industry. Selected candidates are eligible to be featured on TORA’s social media, SEMA eNews and future TORA member updates.