Shop Owner Spotlight

Tara Topel

Co-Owner, Topel’s Service Center, Inc. and Topel’s Towing & Repair, Inc. →


Tell us about yourself

What is your name and job title?

Tara Topel, Co-Owner of Topel’s Service Center, Inc. and Topel’s Towing & Repair, Inc.

Where is your shop located?

Lake Mills, WI (About halfway between Madison & Milwaukee)

Tell us a little about your shop.

It was started in 1948 by Cliff Topel. We recently built a new facility for towing, service, and retail space for a parts store and moved in August of 2022.

Does you shop specialize in any certain repairs or specialties?

We are still a general repair shop including ADAS calibrations and programming.

What is a fun fact about you and/or your shop?

We are celebrating 75 years of business this year and will be celebrating Sept 30 with “OkTopelFest” – a party with homebrew beer by my husband Dan and music by a local Polka Band.

What is your bucket list road trip?

First would be Alaska and next would be Route 6.

Have you been to the AAPEX show?

Yes, several times.

If the answer is yes to the above question, what did you find most beneficial? Anything you would change?

The most beneficial would be networking with parts suppliers and manufacturers. I would change making quality communication with vendors available until the very end, several times we visit booths later in the show and get little to no communication.

Will you be attending AAPEX 2023? Why or why not?

Yes, we currently plan on it.

Will any of your staff be attending?

We are hoping to bring 2 of our team members this year.

Do you receive the AAPEX Newsletter? If yes, do you read it?

Yes, we do and as often as I can, I do! I’ve been very impressed by the quality of content and how it relates to me as an owner and the industry as a whole.

What is currently the biggest issue the automotive aftermarket is facing?

Lack of professionalism and openness to diversity.

What have been the biggest challenges your shop has faced over the last 2 years?

Quality technician recruitment and then, parts shortages/supply chain issues.

What is your view on the future of the Automotive Aftermarket?

The future is bright. As Bob Greenwood always said, The Aftermarket Always Wins!

What emerging technology or industry trend within the automotive aftermarket are you most excited about?

Right now, ADAS, though it’s already here. Next, I would say flying cars!

If you could give other shop owners one piece of advice, what would it be?

Know your worth, more importantly your value. The industry is becoming more of a profession than a trade and we should sell out services and selves with that in mind.

What is the most important piece of technology your shop uses and why?

A computer because there is a wealth of knowledge that drives how we approach our work and relationships.

What are the biggest challenges facing new technology in the Automotive Aftermarket?

The Right to Repair and how we will access the data we need to service our clients’ future needs.

How important is AAPEX in helping you discover the latest technology to use in your shop?

Extremely important. While many shops find themselves caught in the day-to-day, we need an organization that is out in front of us, preparing for what is to come.

Where do you see technology headed in the future for the Automotive Aftermarket?

It’s hard to say. We spend so much of our time learning and preparing for what we can see and hear today, but all it takes is an invention or concept to disrupt the norms. I think it will constantly evolve in ways we can’t even predict.

How important is it for your shop to have the most current technology?

It is crucial for us to have what is most current and what is to come in the near future. Beyond that, if COVID taught us anything, it is the importance to adapt and adjust based on the current information we have.

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