Driving Ambition

Mumford’s hitches are all welcome

by Keith Morrill

perfection0915In 1998, seeing an opportunity and filling a personal need for trailer to transport his race cars, Peter Mumford launched Perfection Motorsports & Trailer Sales in Richmond.

For the past 17 years, Peter Mumford has kept his business running smoothly despite encountering his fair share of hitches. In his line of work, that’s a good thing. As owner of Perfection Motorsports & Trailer Sales, Mumford deals in them, hooking customers up with top-quality brand utility and equipment trailers designed to haul anything from contracting equipment to race cars.

“Our biggest customers are other businesses,” he says. They include contractors, excavators, municipalities, and the general public.

Vermonters will easily recognize one of Mumford’s clients in the solar-equipment provider SunCommon. The company’s vibrant trailers are a familiar sight on Vermont roadways these days. Otie Filkorn, whose official title at SunCommon is solar orchestra conductor, attributes the health of the company’s fleet to Perfection Motorsports.

“He’s the go-to guy in Richmond for getting hitches,” Filkorn says. When SunCommon was looking to assemble its fleet of trailers, she at once turned to Mumford. “There’s nothing better than working with somebody you know and trust, right in your own backyard.”

Perfection Motorsports sourced the trailers, developed and implemented plans for customization, and handled all of the red tape involved in getting the trailers registered and licensed. “I appreciate how they are a fully functional business operating in the big leagues, but they’re still a part of our small-town community. They’re really supportive; they think outside the box; they can help us work it all out in a very user-friendly way.”

Another longtime client is Engineers Construction in Williston. Larry Raymond, equipment manager for the company, attests to Perfection’s commitment to its products and its clientele. “He’s always been very straightforward with us,” says Raymond. “He’s always treated us well price-wise and service-wise. We have a loyalty to the people that take care of us.”

Mumford came to the business honestly enough, as his life has always revolved around wheels and automobiles. He was nearly a native Vermonter — was born in upstate New York six weeks before his parents sold their dairy farm and moved to Marlboro in order to be closer to Mumford’s grandparents. His father started Brattleboro Tire Service, a Firestone Tires dealership, and as Mumford grew up, it became his intent to someday take over the family business.

To that end, he went to Champlain College in ’74 to study business management and enjoy collegiate sports such as skiing and soccer. But while he was there, his father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and subsequently decided to sell the business and travel. “He had a great retirement,” says Mumford.

The decision left Mumford uncertain about his post-graduation plans. Fortunately, he was working part time at Goss Tire on Pine Street, a gig that he says allowed him “to pay room and board and buy a beer every once in a while.” When he graduated from Champlain in ’76 with his associate’s degree, Goss offered him a full-time position. He worked there for the next seven years, and by the time he left the company to join Burlington Foreign Car Parts on Shelburne Road, he had worked his way up to a managerial position.

While at BFCP, Mumford earned his real estate license, and then left to sell real estate for the next six years. He enjoyed the experience and did quite well with it, he says, but he ultimately found himself leaning toward his previous work, and he decided to go into business for himself.

In 1992 he launched his first business, Perfection Auto Parts, in Essex Junction. He operated the store for just six years before selling it to Sanel. “I needed to catch up with my family after years of hard work,” he says, “so I took a nice little break for about 10 months.” Then he opened Perfection Motorsports & Trailer Sales.

To understand how Mumford got the idea for starting the business, it’s important to know that he enjoys racing cars. Since 1991, he has competed in road racing as part of the Sports Car Club of America. This pursuit meant, of course, that he had to buy trailers to transport his cars, and it was those experiences that gave him the inspiration for a business opportunity.

“I saw a need for it,” he says, explaining he didn’t see a trailer dealership in Vermont that approached business with the sort of vision he would have considered ideal. He discussed the plan with a friend in Ohio who had been in the business for years, and took a trip to the Buckeye State to see his operations.

He carried the Perfection moniker with him and, in July 1998, started Perfection Motorsports & Trailers Sales. Originally the company was located on Huntington Road in Richmond, near the Round Church. From day one, the business did more than just sell and service trailers. Perfection Motorsports also sells a variety of trailer parts and accessories, and in the winter months, caters to snowmobilers with parts, accessories, and apparel.

Initially business seemed slow. “If the phone rang 12 times it was awesome. When you start something from scratch, you have to expect that.” Things did pick up from there, and within a few years Mumford expanded the business, relocating in 2001 to a larger lot off U.S. 2 on the Jonesville line.

In the years following the move, he hired two employees, both of whom he now calls his right-hand men. Mike Reeves came on in 2001 and Andy Degree in 2004. Mumford praises the two, saying “they’re a huge part of my success.” Though each employee has his specialty, both Reeves and Degree are equals to him in terms of what they do at Perfection. “We all can basically do whatever has to be done.”

He also lists his wife, Marian, as an unofficial employee. “She puts up with me working long hours, and she’s very supportive,” he says. Marian is better known to some as Mrs. Mumford, a kindergarten teacher at Richmond Elementary School. She and Mumford met in ’79, in downtown Burlington at Hannibal’s bar, while Marian was still a student at UVM studying plant and soil science.

“We met in there one early evening and that was it,” recalls Mumford fondly. They wed in 1981 and in ’84 welcomed their first child, Chuck, and in ’87, a daughter, Holly. While Mumford and his wife have stayed in Vermont, settling on the Williston shore of Lake Iroquois, both of their children have found professional success out of state. Chuck created Pit Viper Sunglasses in Salt Lake City; Holly is an architect, working for a firm in Bozeman, Mont.

When he’s not working, Mumford savors evenings sitting on his dock, watching the sun set over the hills. Aside from racing, he still skis, though he says as he approaches 60, soccer is no longer in his best interest.

He has no grand plans for Perfection Motorsports & Trailer Sales beyond continuing to provide topnotch service and meeting his yearly sales growth. He has no interest in opening satellite stores or expanding his staff.

His biggest project is bringing the company into the digital age with a stronger Web presence, although he explains he’s not interested in pursuing online sales. “I’m still a firm believer that in this business, you still got to see it, touch it, and feel it — and look at it,” he says, explaining there are limitations to shopping for trailers online. “Looking at a picture, they all look the same. This industry still needs a brick-and-mortar location.” •