New owners sought to steer automotive business

Hugh Phillips, owner of Safari Ltd., works near the image of a red camel that’s become synonymous with the Grand Junction automotive business. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Hugh Phillips, owner of Safari Ltd., works near the image of a red camel that’s become synonymous with the Grand Junction automotive business. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Hugh Phillips fully expects to continue offering the customer service, extensive parts inventory and specialized work that’s made his automotive business a success over the past 10 years.

But Phillips also expects Safari Ltd. to soon operate under new ownership.

“New owners will carry the torch as it’s been carried or better,” said Phillips, who operates the Grand Junction business along with his wife, Kelly.

Hugh Phillips said the couple is in the process of working with what he called several qualified candidates to purchase Safari Ltd. and hopes to soon close on the transaction. “As soon as possible would be great.”

The enterprise remains viable, but the couple is ready for a change, he said. “We want to do other things. It’s time.”

The couple initially had considered simply closing the operation and liquidating the inventory. But the reaction to their announcement to do so made them reconsider, he said. “We changed our tune.”

Rather than close Safari, they decided to sell the business — but only to owners committed to running the operation in the same way. The business employs seven people Phillips said he wants to keep on staff.

The couple opened Safari in Grand Junction in 2005. Phillips previously operated an automotive service business in Durango working exclusively on Toyota four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Now located in a building at 1005 Pitkin Ave. the couple purchased in 2008, Safari Ltd. operates an independent Toyota Service Center. Safari offers maintenance, parts and repairs for Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles.

In addition, though, Safari specializes in maintaining, repairing and outfitting off-road vehicles. The business sells a variety of accessories and equipment for off-road travel.

At any given time, technicians might be working on a late model Prius hybrid alongside a luxury Lexus sedan and vintage Land Cruiser.

“It’s a really unique business,” Phillips said.

Safari also maintains a well-stocked warehouse of new and used parts to expedite repairs in the shop and help do-it-yourselfers complete their own repairs.

In addition, though, Phillips said he’s long emphasized customer service along with honesty and integrity.

That approach has helped to develop a loyal customer base not only in Western Colorado, but also elsewhere, he said. “When you find a good mechanic, you want to stick with it.”

One customer brings in his vehicle from the West Coast for service, making vacations out of the trips, he said.

Phillips said he’s committed to finding new owners that will be just as committed to service and meeting the needs of a variety of customers. “We are moving forward with business as usual.”

For more information about Safari Ltd., call 245-5898 or visit www.safari-ltd.com.