It wasn't always that way. When Telfor, now 57, took over the body shop seven years ago, the dealership needed to build its repair reputation with a redoubled marketing effort. Part of that involved educating customers that the dealership repaired more than Fords and Lincolns. That's paid off. On a given day, the waiting list runs two dozen vehicles deep. During Telfor's tenure, the body shop has added more than a dozen employees. The staff stands at 17, and he's looking to add two more mechanics.
Another aspect was delving into custom projects. Beyond RVs, Kra-pohl handles boat repairs — often, the dealership gets requests to put spray-in truck bedliners on pontoons. Krapohl also handles restoration projects, such as a 1966 Ford Mustang that received a fresh paint job, an overhauled interior and new convertible top.
"If it's got a dent or needs paint, we can fix it," Telfor said. "We've been doing it so long, we're always reaching for something else that's out there. We'll take a swing at anything."
For the past five years, that scope includes ambulances. Krapohl has established a contract with MMR, a medical transportation company that serves 15 counties in central Michigan, to care for its fleet of ambulances. There usually are two or three undergoing maintenance at a given time, Telfor says, and the staff takes special pride in sending them back with a finish as gleaming as that of a fire truck.
If the unconventional expansion was a major external focus, Telfor says an internal effort has also paid off. When he arrived, he instituted a standing 8 a.m. meeting for all technicians at which the entire staff is quickly apprised of the status of two dozen or so repairs in progress.
"From the wash guy to the guy working on the fleet, everyone knows where everyone stands," he said. "Nobody can say, 'I don't know.' It's just good communication, and I want everyone to go home feeling good about a good day's work. That's the atmosphere I want. We had a new guy start a few weeks ago, and I told him, 'Let anyone know if you need anything. There isn't anybody in this shop who wouldn't drop everything to give you a hand.' "