Meet Our Team
Fred Kumpel | Owner
Fred Kumpel joined the Strickland’s team at the ripe age of 17, working part-time after school. A Wilmington native, Fred attended UNC-W for a degree in Business Management and, just after graduation, joined Strickland’s Window Coverings team full time. In 2008, after learning everything he could about the business from Mr. Strickland, Fred purchased the company. Four years later, he acquired Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization. In the years after, Fred acquired numerous companies and buildings, expanding into custom garages, fabrics, and draperies. Under his leadership, Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization has grown 400% and keeps going!
When he’s not expanding Strickland’s reach, Fred enjoys participating in the local business networking community and volunteering for those in need. The Strickland’s team regularly volunteers to provide closets for families with Welcome Home Angel, a nonprofit that creates more functional living spaces for children with significant life-altering conditions.
According to Fred, his greatest source of home organization know-how is his wife Melissa, a recently-retired middle school teacher. As he says: “My wife is the key to our home organization. When there’s a dish in the sink, it’s washed. If there are clothes in the hamper, they’re cleaned. She’s so on top of it!” She keeps Fred on top of things, too, with an ongoing Honey-Do list for home improvement projects. When Fred isn’t building custom closet systems in other people’s homes, he enjoys working on his own home. He also enjoys refurbishing classic European cars in his “car tinkering shop” garage.
- Dream closet must-have: Built-in lights and rotating clothes racks
- Total pro at: Entrepreneurship
Ginger Thornton | Lead Designer
Ginger Thorton didn’t study design at UNC-W. As she jokes, she studied “digging in the dirt.” Originally an Anthropology and Archeology major, Ginger’s path to becoming a custom closet designer sounds unexpected. But when you hear her story, it makes perfect sense. As she explains: “I come from a long line of artists and architects. I can easily visualize in three dimensions. To me, designing is like a puzzle — and the more challenging, the happier I am. Archeologists put together pieces of the past, while I create solutions to organizational puzzles of the present.” Ginger worked in telecommunications management before she founded the Carolina Closet Company of Wilmington in 1996. She sold the company to Fred Kumpel in 2012 so she could turn her focus to what she really loved: designing.
Ginger designs home organization solutions for closets as well as a number of other spaces large and small – garages, pantries, linen closets, laundry rooms, entryways, entertainment systems, and commercial offices. From a samples closet in a dental office to food storage in a restaurant, Ginger can do it! Her designs have been featured in the national magazine Cottage Style as well as many local and regional publications. When Ginger isn’t designing or organizing, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, hanging out with friends, and traveling.
- Dream closet must-have: “ALL of ORG Home’s features!”
- Total pro at: Organization
Joelle Ando | Designer
Joelle Ando began her design career at the age of sixteen as the assistant to her mother, a successful interior designer. After she finished school, she continued to pursue her passion, working as a sales associate for a high-end furniture company in New Jersey before moving to North Carolina. While Joelle was designing custom models for her husband, a real estate developer of over 20 years, she met Ginger Thornton. Together, the two create organizational solutions for homes and commercial spaces. Joelle considers the Strickland’s closet system “the best invention.” Most of all, she enjoys working at Strickland’s because it allows her to “help customers make their house a home.”
When she isn’t dreaming up new solutions as a custom closet designer, Joelle enjoys playing tennis, walking on the beach, and boating with her family and friends. She and her husband have two children: one in high school, and one in college.
- Dream closet must-have: Strickland’s closet system
- Total pro at: pantry organization
Laura Salo | Operations Manager
Laura Salo grew up in West Virginia, but she’s spent most of her life on the coast – first in Cape Cod, MA, and then in Wilmington, NC, in a move for the warmer shores of the Carolinas.
When she joined Strickland’s in 2003, Laura already had experience in operations management. Over the past fifteen years, her role has grown to include overseeing all of Strickland’s day-to-day operations for 5 divisions – scheduling appointments and repairs, placing orders, working with special requests, etc. For Laura, the greatest joy of her job is who she gets to work with and for. As she says: “Fred is an amazing leader and has gathered an amazing team. We have the most talented, dedicated team.”
In her free time, Laura enjoys riding bikes with her daughter, camping out on the beach with friends and family, and listening to books on self-growth. During football season, you can find her cheering on the Green Bay Packers at one of her garage football parties. If she could have any home organization product, it would be a custom closet for the garage, as she has plenty of party supplies to store.
- Dream closet must-have: Custom shelving with lighting
- Total pro at: Logistics
Keecha Anderson | Accountant
A Wilmington native, Keecha Anderson originally joined Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization as an assistant to Mr. Strickland and helper in the showroom in 2006. Today, she serves as the company’s full-time bookkeeper and showroom organizer. Keecha worked as a childcare teacher and office administrator before she found her professional home at Strickland’s. As she says: “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 tidying up the showroom or logging records, she enjoys spending time with her children. She and her son enjoy motor cross and boxing: “I sling mud and hang tough right there with him!” she says. She and her daughter “feed the soul” baking in the kitchen or reading books at the local bookstore. She also enjoys volunteering at her church and doing arts and crafts. Inside her closet, she keeps a gun lock box, yoga mat, and motorcycle helmet.
- Dream closet must-have: Drop door for hidden gun safe
- Total pro at: Crunching numbers
Beckah Daggett | Customer Service
When it comes to closet organization, Beckah Daggett has one piece of advice: labeling. As she says: “I love labels. It’s one of the simplest ways to keep things organized, and I like having everything in its place.” The same is true for Beckah’s desk at Strickland’s Closet & Home Organization. When Beckah joined Strickland’s team in early 2016, Fred knew early on that she was a great fit because of her attention to detail and clear communication. Today, she works as the primary point of contact for Strickland’s across divisions, including Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization.
In Beckah’s own home, her favorite room to organize is her kitchen. She and her husband Ryan, a professional firefighter, love to cook. “We’re always looking for new recipes to try,” she says, “and we have a ton of kitchen gadgets!” After a busy day at the showroom, Beckah enjoys cooking and grilling, going to the beach, and finding new hiking trails with her husband and stepson. They have three rescue pets, two cats and a dog.
- Dream closet must-have: All of ORG Home’s organizing systems – “I am a very organized person, so I’d love to have a huge closet filled with shelving and drawers for everything!”
- Total pro at: “Working hard and getting the job done!”
Mike Philpot | Customer Service
An ever-welcoming presence on our showroom floor, Mike Philpot serves as Strickland’s full-time greeter, host, and customer service representative. A native Kentuckian, Mike grew up with Southern childhood staples like “a hog hanging in the garage for salt-cured pork.” He earned an Associate’s degree in electronics from Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH, but found that he preferred human interaction to computers. Mike switched his career path to sales, and even had his own business remodeling kitchens and bathrooms before relocating to NC. He joined Strickland’s as an installer, but an injury – and his winning personality – earned him a role in the showroom where he loves helping customers. “Strickland’s is definitely a family,” he says. Speaking of family, outside of work, Mike enjoys “normal grandpa stuff” with his 6 grandchildren, like exploring the Arboretum or Hugh MacRae Park. Mike and his wife of 9 years recently built a home in Rocky Point that they share with their two rescue cats, Simon and Carson.
- Dream Closet Must-Have: 2 built-in highboy dressers with 2 double-hangs
- Total Pro at: Organizing Strickland’s work shirts: “I can find them in the dark.”
Jamey Carver | Installation Manager
Jamey Carver moved from his home state of Florida to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1996. He sharpened his skills as a carpenter for more than 15 years before he joined Strickland’s Closet & Home Organization team as an installer. With expertise in exterior wood projects and trim, he came in with a strong skill set for custom closet, shelving, and cabinetry installation. Today, he serves as the company’s installation manager, overseeing all custom installation projects for Strickland’s across 5 divisions. For Jamey, Strickland’s is a great fit because of its company culture. As he says: “It’s a small, local business. There’s a family feel, and our goal is to always make the customers delighted with the custom work we’ve done for them.”
When it comes to closets in Jamey’s home, the kitchen pantry is the most organized. As he says, “The kitchen sees the most traffic in our home – we love fine wine and good food.” In his free time, Jamey enjoys developing additional talents. He’s spent years perfecting and practicing multiple construction skills, including tiling, plumbing, painting, and electrical. When he’s not learning a new skill, he enjoys spending time with friends and family.
- Dream closet must-have: LED lighting
- Total pro at: Carpentry
Don Cunningham | Installer
Ask Don Cunningham how long he’s been doing this, and he’ll pause a moment, then say: “For my whole life.” For Don, installation is in his blood. He grew up with a father who worked in contracting and picked up the skills of the trade from him over the years. Straight out of high school, Don followed in his father’s footsteps, landing his first installation job. He found a home at Strickland’s because of the company’s tight-knit culture and devotion to team-building and open dialogue. When Don isn’t installing custom-designed closets, you can find him on the coast. “Boating, beaching, surfing, whatever has to do with saltwater, I’m there,” he says. Unless, of course, he’s in his garage workshop. As he jokes of the home he shares with his wife of 30 years, Kathleen, “The garage is mine, the house is hers.” Don and his wife have two children, one in college and one that’s graduated already, along with two rescue black labs, Bella and Callie.
- Dream closet must-have: A kegerator – “So I can look in my closet and pour myself a cold one.”
- Total pro at: Organizing tools in the garage
Paul Libal | Installer
Paul Libal is a full-time installer at Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization with over 25 years of experience in cabinetry fabrication and installation. Before he became a part of Strickland’s team, Paul worked as a commercial installer for Hillcraft, a kitchen and bathroom designer for Home Depot, and an independent contractor for a wide variety of clients. For Paul, joining Strickland’s team was exciting because it meant more variety, with different clients, jobs, and locations every day. Paul enjoys supporting the custom closet designers by tackling difficult installation challenges, like irregular surfaces and unique spaces. As he says, the best part of his job is “when a customer is satisfied with the job and I know it’s going to work out for them.” When Paul isn’t taking measurements or installing custom-designed closets, he enjoys spending time with wife of 33 years, visiting his son nearby and his daughter in Hawaii, and tending to his garden of microgreens and tomatoes.
- Dream closet must-have: Lots and lots of drawers
- Total pro at: Getting measurements exactly right