Pumpkins, cantaloupe, peas, tomatoes, squash, and watermelon…Mike Lepley is usually hard at work in his garden during the summer months. He’s still putting in some of those green-thumb hours, but he’s making more time for The ReStore now.
Mike joined our team in 2015 volunteering two-three days a week, and for the past nine months, he has been working as a part-time ReStore associate at our Washington County store. He’ll be spending less time on the receiving dock and much more on the sales floor when he officially takes on his new role of sales floor supervisor this month.
Portland is Mike’s hometown, southeast Portland, to be more exact.
“For the first 28 years of my life (except for my little bit of college experience) I literally lived in a 20-block radius,” Mike explains. “I moved out like six blocks from home, then I bought a house 15 blocks from home. My sister is still over there; she has a store in our old neighborhood.”
The college experience Mike talks about includes the University of Oregon and the University of Texas, but it was at Portland Community College that Mike earned his degree in emergency medicine.
“I worked as a paramedic in Washington, Clark and Clackamas counties,” he says. But after six years that career path lost its charm for Mike, and he discovered he could earn a lot more money selling cars. That went well for a couple of years, including the period when he managed Vancouver Ford’s special finance program.
Mike tried his hand at production work for Precision Castparts and also as a dispatcher for a medical transportation company, dispatching tow trucks and emergency roadside assistance. For a year and a half, Intel employed him to monitor their security control center alarms.
But when he moved in with his partner and her two small sons, they decided his skills were best put to use around the home. He tended the garden, took care of meals (the kids really dig his white bean chicken chili), managed their 175-pound Great Dane (“Jake. We call him a baby dear.”) and coached the boys’ T-ball and Little League teams.
“They are the Cheetahs,” Mike beams. “It was the first year they were getting pitches, and we went 18 wins and 0 losses. It was a great year!” He’s looking forward to doing that again next year.
When the boys were old enough for school, Mike began looking to fill his daytime hours doing community service…and that led him to The ReStore.
He says it’s hard work but there isn’t anything he doesn’t love about his job.
“You see things that you would wonder why anyone would want that, and then it's sold in 10 minutes,” he laughs. “And some of the interesting things--like we had a washer that we traced back to 1935- the wringer washer. Things like that are interesting!”
As he contemplates his move to the sales floor, Mike says he’s looking forward to working more closely with volunteers.
“We get some [people] that ask about volunteering, but they see us on the dock and they say, ‘Oh but I can't do this, I can't lift heavy things.’ There's a spot for everyone in the volunteer world here. From the young kids who just want to show they can lift and toss everything--there's plenty of that to do. We also have all the small stuff, all the small pricing. There's always organizing different areas. Cleaning isn't always so fun, but we get volunteers who want to spend the whole day cleaning. It actually amazes me that we have a couple of volunteers that enjoy just keeping our kitchen tidy,” Mike says. “So there's something for every age group and skill level, which I like.”
What else does Mike like?
“On tough days, when I've worked a lot on the dock and I’m tired I will grab a book and lock myself in the bathroom and read. A-book-and-a-bath is very relaxing!” he exclaims.
Mike’s favorite genre: crime/mystery/ thrillers
Mike’s favorite authors: Vince Flynn, John Grisham, John Sanford (Prey series)
...And, yes, he has a man cave, but he shares it with the dog.