Fred Kumpel | Owner
It’s not often that a part-time job jumpstarts a lifelong career, but for Fred Kumpel, that was exactly what happened. Fred got his driver’s license at fifteen and began a part-time job at Strickland’s Window Coverings shortly later. After graduating from UNC-W with a degree in Business Management, he decided to join Strickland’s full-time. In 2008, he purchased the company from the Strickland’s family. An avid entrepreneur, Fred acquired Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization just four years later. Under his leadership, Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization has grown 400%, and it’s still going strong!
Fred is an active member in the local business networking community and devotes much of his time to volunteering in the community. Recently, the Strickland’s team donated a fully customized closet to Williston Middle School. Strickland’s also regularly helps organize closets for Welcome Home Angel, a nonprofit that creates more functional living spaces for children with significant health or life-altering conditions.
In his free time, Fred enjoys refurbishing classic European cars. “I’m a car guy!” he says. His garage is his “car tinkering shop.” The space is complete with air conditioning, a metal polishing station, and a 1980 Mercedes 500sl. His dream car is a Porsche Spyder 918, but as he says, “It changes weekly!” Fred also enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa, a recently-retired middle school teacher, and their pup Bella.
- First car: Brown 1980 Jeep CJ-7
- Dream garage must-have: Epoxy garage floor coating
Michael Steiner | ASID Lead Home Organization Designer
Ask Michael Steiner why he’s passionate about garage design, and he’ll tell he loves utilizing any space to its fullest potential. After 30 years in the design industry, he knows how to combine creativity and organization to that end.
Michael graduated from ECU with a BFA in Interior Design and a minor in Commercial Art. His training led him to work for several designers, operate his own interior design business, freelance as a photo stylist and illustrator, and even design sets for the movie industry.
After calling Raleigh his home base for years, Michael has now settled back in Wilmington, because Strickland’s feels like home: “We work as a great team and care about each other like family,” he says. “We love making our customers’ lives easier and happier through organization.”
Since childhood, Michael has been interested in “green” design; his depression-era grandfather was a jack-of-all-trades and a master at repurposing parts and pieces to fix or create items. When Michael’s not plundering for his own treasures to repurpose or recreate, you can catch him biking, gardening and sailing on the weekends. He also enjoys taking trips to the mountains or the beach with friends, family, and his Portuguese Water Dog, Lola.
- First car: 1975 VW Super Beetle — with the trunk in the front and fold-down seats, it held a lot of art supplies and fun flea market finds!
- Dream garage must-have: A backyard workshop/studio with plenty of space to create
Joelle Ando | Designer
Inside Joelle Ando’s garage is her dream car: a 2017 Volvo XC90. As she says: “I keep my car in my garage and I couldn’t imagine keeping it outside – it’s spoiled!” Joelle dreams of redesigning her entire garage with Strickland’s organization products. As she jokes: “I just need to get the hubby to clean it out first!”
For Joelle, design has always been a family affair. At sixteen, her first job was serving as an assistant to her mother, a successful interior designer. Today, Joelle and her husband both work in design. Her husband is a real estate developer who has spent over 20 years custom-building homes, often using Joelle’s custom design models. While designing one of these models, Joelle met Ginger Thorton. The two designers now work together on custom garage design for residential and commercial spaces. As Joelle says, “I love helping customers make their house a home. We have an awesome product line and a great team here.”
When Joelle isn’t designing custom garages, she enjoys watching HGTV, playing tennis, and walking on the beach. She and her husband have two children, both of whom are currently attending college.
- First car: 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier
- Dream garage must-have: Strickland’s garage system
Laura Salo | Operations Manager
When football season comes along, you can find Laura Salo having a neighborhood party in her garage and cheering on the Green Bay Packers. She considers her garage “another living space,” complete with a TV, sound bar, tables, fridge, flat top, smoker, and grill. Laura Salo knows a thing or two about garage organization, and she knows even more about operations management.
Laura Salo joined the Strickland’s Custom Garage team when she moved to Wilmington from Cape Cod, MA in 2003. Seeking warmer weather, Laura found her professional home at Strickland’s thanks to her coworkers. As she says: “We have the most talented, dedicated team. Fred is an amazing leader and has gathered an amazing team to work with.” Laura keeps the team moving forward and organized by scheduling and overseeing all of Strickland’s day-to-day operations, from ordering supplies for custom garages to scheduling initial consultations and final installations.
When she’s not keeping the ball rolling at Strickland’s, Laura enjoys riding bikes with her daughter and camping out on the beach with family and friends. She says the key to keeping a well-organized garage is decluttering – “If I haven’t used something within a year, it’s outta there!”
- First car: Brand new Dodge Neon – paid the down payment with “a job at Kroger bagging groceries”
- Dream garage must-have: A custom closet for storage
Keecha Anderson | Accountant
A Wilmington native, Keecha Anderson began working at Strickland’s in 2006 as Mr. Strickland’s assistant in the field and helper in the showroom. Just a few years later, she rose to her current position: full-time bookkeeper and showroom organizer.
Formerly an office administrator and childcare teacher, Keecha says she’s found her professional home at Strickland’s because of its supportive culture and values. As she explains: “ It’s a privilege for me to work for a company that encourages its employees to grow and learn in their profession, but also as individuals. It means a lot to me that the management team here believes in strong business ethics and integrity.”
When Keecha isn’t checking on displays in the showroom or logging orders for new projects, she enjoys bonding with her children. She and her daughter ‘ feed the soul’ with baking and reading together. She and her son ‘sling mud and hang tough’ with motor cross and boxing. Keecha also enjoys volunteering at her church and doing arts and crafts.
Keecha’s dream garage would be a woman cave with open shelving and cabinetry for workout gear and auto servicing tools.
- First car: 1976 Ford F150
- Dream garage must-have: Drop door for hidden gun safe
Beckah Daggett | Customer Service
Wilmington native Beckah Daggett grew up surfing the waters of Wrightsville Beach with her father and brothers. While she radiates the same coastal calm, Beckah takes her job in the Strickland’s showroom office very seriously. She approaches her work with close attention to detail, organization, and clear communication. When she joined the Strickland’s team in early 2016, Fred and Laura knew they had found an ideal point of support for Strickland’s customers seeking custom-organized spaces, from garages and closets to window coverings for film sets (Beckah also serves as Film Sales Rep. for Strickland’s Set Services!). While Beckah is key to keeping everything running smoothly, she attributes Strickland’s success to the entire team. As she says: “I love the people I work with. Everyone brings their own skill set and expertise to the table. Together, we get great work done every day!”
After a busy day at the office, Beckah enjoys relaxing at the beach and finding new hiking trails with her husband, a professional firefighter, and her stepson. The family has three rescue pets, two cats and a dog.
- First car: Seafoam green ‘96 Saturn – “It was a Sweet 16 gift from my dad – it did not have A/C!”
- Dream garage must-have: Lots of shelving – “To store and organize my husband’s tools!”
Mike Philpot | Customer Service
As Strickland’s full-time greeter and showroom host, Mike Philpot loves to rave about his job, his boss, and his coworkers. “Strickland’s is definitely a family,” he says. Originally an installer for Strickland’s, Mike found himself drawn more to working with customers and found a long-term home in the showroom. There, he enjoys providing customers with judgment-free help and advice on their custom garage projects. “This isn’t your typical design shop where someone’s going to tell you that you can’t have what you want,” he says. “This is America – you can have whatever you want!” A native Kentuckian, Mike Philpot grew up with a hog hanging in his garage for salt-cured pork at breakfast time. Today, his garage serves as his woodworking shop where he enjoys tinkering around and taking on new projects. In his free time, Mike enjoys taking his 6 grandchildren on a number of adventures, like trips to Hugh MacRae Park and the arboretum. He and his wife of 9 years recently built a home in Rocky Point that they share with their two rescue cats, Simon and Carson. Because the house has a fenced-in backyard, Mike hopes a dog will be joining the household soon, too.
- First car: 1962 3-speed Ford Fairlane for $150
- Dream garage must-have: Moonshine
Jamey Carver | Installation Manager
Jamey Carver is a jack of all trades – he has decades of experience in carpentry and construction, with expertise in custom trim, exterior wood, decks, tiling, plumbing, electrical, and painting. He also likes gardening and cooking. With such a wide-ranging skill set, Jamey made a great addition to Strickland’s team as an installation manager for 5 different divisions, including Strickland’s Custom Garages.
For Jamey, the best custom garages have a complete garage system – “It’s simply easier to keep organized and clean,” he says. The best part of working at Strickland’s is, as Jamey, says: “the people I work with.” He continues: “I love working for a small, local business. It has a family feel here, and we all share the desire to delight our customers with our work.”
When Jamey isn’t overseeing installations of custom cabinetry and storage systems, he enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends.
- First car: 1974 Datsun pickup – “A hand-me-down from my brother.”
- Dream garage must-have: Lots of drawers and cubbies
Don Cunningham | Installer
For Don Cunningham, building custom garages comes naturally – “I’ve been doing this for my whole life,” he says. Don grew up with a father who worked in contracting, and over the years, he picked up skills of the trade from him. Straight out of high school, Don decided to pursue the same career. He found a home at Strickland’s because of its friendly company culture and commitment to team-building. When Don finishes up a day of custom garage installation, you can find him in his own garage workshop. There, he keeps his tools perfectly organized and ready to go for woodworking and mechanics. “The garage is mine, the house is hers,” he jokes of the home he shares with his wife of 30 years, Kathleen. Don and his wife have two children, one in college and one who’s graduated already, and two rescue black labs, Bella and Callie. Don and his family love spending their time “boating, fishing, beaching, and surfing – anything that has to do with saltwater.”
- First car: 1962 Ford Falcon – “Ugly, rusted, and broke down all the time – but for $50 at the time, I thought it was the greatest!”
- Dream garage must-have: Kegerator
Paul Libal | Installer
With over 25 years of experience, Paul Libal is a pro in the world of custom garage installation. Before he joined Strickland’s team, Paul served as a commercial installer, designer, and independent contractor for a wide variety of top-tier companies. For Paul, Strickland’s proved to be a perfect fit because it allowed him to continue working on a variety of jobs every day. When it comes to custom garages, Paul enjoys taking on difficult installation challenges, like garages with irregular surfaces and unique spaces. The best part, though, is revealing the final product. As Paul says: “After you’ve worked around a difficult situation, there’s nothing better than seeing the customer’s response when they’re satisfied and happy with the job you’ve done.” In his free time, Paul enjoys reading novels, biking, and tending to his garden of microgreens and tomatoes. He and his wife of 33 years have two children, a son nearby and a daughter in Hawaii.
- First car: Jeep pickup on auction – “It had a low gear that could get you out of any trouble!”
- Dream garage must-have: Lots of storage
Todd S. Grimes | Warehouse Manager
Todd Grimes brings decades of experience and his Associate of Science degree to the Strickland’s family, along with a passion for working alongside his team members. “Employees here are truly invested in providing top-notch customer service,” he says, “which helps us empower each other in how we help our clients.”
After living in Wilmington for over two decades, Todd dreams of building the perfect garage. “My current garage has tons of natural light and no walls,” he says as he jokes about his driveway. “But if I could build a garage, I’d add our organizational system so I’d have a place for everything.”
When Todd isn’t hanging out with family and friends, he enjoys spending the day on the beach. He also loves to discover new musicians at live music events and catch the latest movies on the big screen.
- First car: An old red and white Chevy Blazer
- Dream garage must-have: A garage organization system where I can hang surfboards!