Fred Kumpel | Owner
Fred Kumpel joined Strickland’s when he was seventeen years old, working part-time after school. After he received his degree in Business Management from UNC-W, Fred decided to start his career right away with Strickland’s, joining the company as a full-time employee. He was eager to learn everything he could about operating the business from his mentor, Mr. Strickland. Fred quickly adopted a leadership role of his own, managing the store and adopting changes that would help the long-time window coverings business keep pace with an ever-changing marketplace. When Mr. Strickland retired, he gave Fred the first option to take ownership of the family business. As we know, Fred seized the opportunity.
Since 2008, Fred has successfully continued on with the Strickland’s family tradition of superior customer service while keeping up with the newest technologies and products. Beyond that, he has revived the window coverings repair center, expanded the commercial and specialty branches of the business, and added multiple new divisions to the Strickland’s portfolio. His most exciting window covering job was installing shades on the Outer Banks ferry boats, though he says there have been many favorites along the way.
An active member of the local business networking community, Fred devotes much of his time to supporting others. When Fred isn’t working in the community or helping customers improve their properties with window treatments, he enjoys working on his own home. His wife Melissa, a recently-retired middle school teacher, always has something new to add to the Honey-Do list. And when the work is done, they like to relax with their dog, Bella.
- Dream view: Looking over a mountain range with a valley and waterfall
- Favorite window treatment: Plantation shutters
Chris de Jong | Sales Manager
Chris de Jong first joined Strickland’s Blinds, Shades & Shutters team over 25 years ago. Back then, he worked as a part-time installer while he studied Business Management at UNC-W. When he finished his degree, the timing was just right – a full-time position opened up in the sales department at Strickland’s. Ready to jump-start his new career, Chris took it. He’s been with Strickland’s ever since.
As a native Wilmingtonian, Chris can attest to the great amount of growth his hometown and the industry have experienced in the past few decades. “The view from my ‘office’ changes every day,” he says. “I spend the vast majority of my time meeting with architects, interior designers, contractors, and homeowners all over the Greater Wilmington area. I love learning about so many different projects and recommending solutions based on our selection of nearly 500 window covering products. Between staying in the know about the latest technologies and trends in our industry and meeting new people, the only constant in my line of work is the variety.”
When Chris isn’t working on projects for businesses or homeowners, he enjoys working on his own home. He even designs and builds his own furniture! He also enjoys kayaking, fishing, and riding his motorcycle.
- Dream view: The tidal marshes behind Masonboro Isle at dawn
- Favorite window treatment: Motorized Roman Shades
Joelle Ando | Designer
For Joelle Ando, working in design has always made perfect sense. She began her design career at the age of sixteen. Growing up, she worked as an assistant to her mother, a successful interior designer. After finishing school, she continued pursuing her passion, working as a sales associate for a high-end furniture company in New Jersey before moving down the coast to North Carolina. There, Joelle began designing models for custom-built homes with her husband, a real estate developer who has been constructing homes for upwards of 20 years. Previously a part-time designer for Strickland’s, Joelle is now a full-time employee with one child in high school, and the other attending college. As Joelle says, the highlight of her job is “helping customers make their house a home.” She continues: “Doing so is easy when you have such an awesome product line and a great team to work with!”
When she isn’t designing custom window treatments, Joelle enjoys watching HGTV, playing tennis, and walking on the beach. In her own home, she uses faux wood blinds, a great pick for their style and longevity.
- Dream view: The ocean
- Favorite window treatment: Plantation shutters and woven wood shades
Michael Steiner | ASID Lead Home Organization Designer
Michael Steiner spent his childhood in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, the “small city with a big heart” right outside of Pittsburgh. His family moved south to escape the harsh northern winters. After finishing high school in Wilmington, NC, Michael went on to graduate from ECU with a BFA in Interior Design and a minor in Commercial Art.
Michael worked for several designers and operated his own design business in the Raleigh area for the next few decades. He also freelanced as a photo stylist and illustrator for numerous interior design magazines, and as a set designer for the movie industry. Now, having returned to Wilmington, Michael is proud to be Lead Designer for Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization and Strickland’s Custom Garages.
In his spare time, Michael loves shopping in flea markets and thrift stores for unusual items to redesign and refurbish. His favorite find is anything that he can repurpose as a lighting fixture. Michael also enjoys gardening, biking, sailing and spending time on the beach or in the mountains with family, friends, and his Portuguese Water Dog, Lola.
- Dream view: The view from the porch of a Wrightsville Beach oceanfront cottage
- Favorite window treatment: Custom draperies in raw silk
Carol Pendergrass | Drapery Designer
Carol Pendergrass knows all about the world of drapery design. After graduating from ECU with a bachelor’s degree in Housing and Management, she launched her design career, which included running her own blind, drapery and wallpaper business. Carol has also been an active Realtor for 14 years; she loves browsing house listings and finding interior design inspiration.
With 40 years of experience under her belt, Carol joined the Strickland’s Blinds team ready use her creative skills in new ways every day. She says: “It’s the best place to buy window treatments – there are great products and helpful staff!”
In addition to her interior design jobs, Carol also reads and knits. On the weekends, Carol enjoys being with her husband, David, who’s been by her side for almost 30 years; her two kids, Maggie and Zack; and Zack’s wife, Emily.
- Dream view: Any water view will do!
- Favorite window treatment: Custom draperies, of course.
Laura Salo | Operations Manager
After fifteen years at Strickland’s Blinds, Shades & Shutters, Laura Salo has accumulated quite the collection of window coverings. Her home features faux wood plantation shutters, cellular shades, solar shades, and wood blinds – all from Strickland’s.
Laura grew up in West Virginia and lived in Cape Cod before relocating for warmer waters in Wilmington. An operations management aficionado already, she joined Strickland’s in 2003 and has been in charge of the day-to-day operations ever since. She oversees 5 divisions and streamlines the company’s communications, scheduling, appointments, and orders. For her, the key to her ongoing success at Strickland’s has been her team. As she says: “We have the most talented, dedicated team. Most of the time things go perfectly, but when they don’t, we work hard until they are perfect.”
When Laura’s away from her office, she enjoys listening to self-growth books, biking with her daughter, and camping on the beach with family and friends. She’s also recently taken up Zumba – “It’s so challenging, but it is so rewarding – and I feel great afterward!” she says.
- Dream view: Woods in the front yard, beach in the backyard
- Favorite window treatment: Cellular shades
Keecha Anderson | Accountant
Keecha Anderson joined Strickland’s Blinds, Shades & Shutters in 2006 as an assistant to Mr. Strickland in the field and a helper in the showroom on weekends. Today, she serves as Strickland’s full-time accountant.
A native of Wilmington, Keecha previously worked as an office administrator and childcare teacher. She found a professional home at Strickland’s thanks to its commitment to its employees and their development. As she says: “It’s a privilege for me to work for a company that encourages its employees to grow, not only 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 taking care of the books at Strickland’s, she enjoys bonding with her children: “My daughter loves reading and baking, so we ‘travel’ through books together at local bookstores and feed our souls in the kitchen. My son loves boxing and motor cross, so I hang tough and sling mud with him!” Keecha also enjoys doing arts and crafts, going to the gun range, and volunteering at her church.
- Dream view: A mountaintop view at sunset
- Favorite window treatment: Wood blinds
Beckah Daggett | Customer Service
A native Wilmingtonian, Beckah Daggett grew up soaking up the sun and surfing in Wrightsville Beach with her dad and brothers. When it comes to work, though, she keeps busy. When Beckah joined the Strickland’s team in early 2016, Fred and Laura knew automatically that her attention to detail and gift for follow-through would make her an ideal point of contact for Strickland’s Blinds, Shades & Shutters clients. When asked about the most exciting part of her job, she struggles to choose just one. As she says: “I get to order blinds and shades for the movies – it’s all exciting!” Beyond managing the desk for Strickland’s multiple portfolios, Beckah also serves as Film Sales Rep. for Strickland’s Set Services. Beckah stays busy, yes, but she is oh so organized. The key to keeping it all together? “Labeling,” she says. “I label everything, and I love knowing everything is right where it belongs.”
After a busy day at the desk, Beckah and her husband, a professional firefighter, enjoy taking their son to the movie theater to enjoy the latest blockbuster. They also enjoy trips to the beach, hiking, and grilling out with friends. In her own home, Beckah likes to “keep it simple” with faux wood blinds.
- Dream view: The shores of a Hawaiian island
- Favorite window treatment: Hunter Douglas Silhouette® Window Shadings
Mike Philpot | Customer Service
Mike Philpot is Strickland’s Blinds, Shades & Shutters’ ever-friendly and welcoming showroom host. A native Kentuckian, Mike grew up with “a vegetable garden the size of a neighborhood,” got a degree in electronics, and ran his own kitchen and bathroom remodeling company before relocating to NC. Originally an installer for Strickland’s, Mike now enjoys working in the showroom for one important reason: the people. As he puts it, “I love talking to people, making them laugh, and being of service.” When Mike isn’t in the showroom helping a customer or volunteering after hours, he enjoys “normal grandpa stuff” with his 6 grandchildren. He also likes to relax in the Rocky Point home he shares with his wife of 9 years and their two rescue cats, Simon and Carson.
- Dream view: “I have it!” says Mike, “My backyard which looks out on the woodlands of Holly Shelter Game Land.”
- Favorite Window Treatment: Banded shades – “They’re just so cool!”
Sarah Kyle | Customer Service
Jamey Carver | Installation Manager
A native Floridian, Jamey Carver moved up the coast to Wilmington in 1996. He sharpened his skills as a carpenter for more than 15 years before he joined the team at Strickland’s Blinds, Shades & Shutters. An expert in trim and exterior wood projects, Jamey had the ideal skill set for a custom window treatment installer. Jamey’s expertise doesn’t stop there, though – he also spent several years learning and perfecting many aspects of construction, including electrical, tiling, plumbing, and painting. When he’s not supervising installations at Strickland’s or learning a new skill, he enjoys spending quality time with friends and family. Jamey enjoys good food, fine wine, great books, sad movies, and gardening. He loves building hydroponic systems – so much so he’ll make one for you if you ask!
- Dream view: Panoramic from the entire floor of a downtown high-rise
- Favorite window treatment: Motorized window coverings with a hub – “They offer great benefits of automation – energy savings and ease of use!”
Paul Libal | Installer
Paul Libal serves as a full-time window treatment installer at Strickland’s. With over 25 years of experience in commercial and home installations, Paul prides himself in “getting measurements exactly right” and “balancing different situations and different houses.” Having previously worked for Hillcraft as a cabinetry installer and Home Depot as a kitchen and bathroom designer, Paul enjoys working with Strickland’s for the wide variety of projects it allows him to work on every day. When Paul isn’t measuring windows for draperies or installing window shades, he enjoys tending to his garden of microgreens and tomatoes, going on bike rides, and spending time with his wife of 33 years. A former resident of Hawaii, Paul also enjoys visiting his daughter there or seeing his son who lives close by.
- Dream view: The Intracoastal Waterway
- Favorite window treatment: Motorized shades for the sunroom
Don Cunningham | Installer
For Don Cunningham, installing blinds, shades, and shutters is in his blood – “I’ve been doing this for my whole life,” he says. Don grew up with a father who worked in contracting and followed in his footsteps, landing his first installation job straight out of high school. He found a home at Strickland’s thanks to its team-building culture. As he says: “It’s a good group of people, kind of like a family. There’s always open dialogue, and everybody works together really well.” When Don isn’t measuring window frames and installing hardware, he prefers to spend his time in his garage workshop or anywhere near the water – “boating, surfing, or beaching.” He and his wife Kathleen have been married 30 years and have two children, one in college and one who’s graduated. They share their home with their two beloved black lab rescues, Bella and Callie.
- Dream view: The Caribbean coast
- Favorite window treatment: Plantation shutters
Joey Phelps | Installer
Brian Baldridge | Installer
Todd Grimes | Warehouse Manager
Todd Grimes recently brought his two decades of customer service and sales experience to the Strickland’s team. After living just outside Philadelphia, Todd earned an Associate of Science degree from Delaware County Community College and jumped into his career. He’s lived in Wilmington for over twenty years because he prefers living close to the ocean.
“Strickland’s is a great place to work because our team has great people who care about their jobs,” Todd says. “They truly invest and provide each customer with the best products to suit their needs.”
Although he has a passion for Norman blinds, Todd enjoys working with customers to get the best results for their homes.
When he’s off the clock, Todd loves anything that has to do with the ocean. Surfing, kayaking and boating are some of his favorite activities to do when he’s not spending time with family and friends.
- Dream view: Overlooking the ocean from the cliffs in Biarritz, France
- Favorite window treatment: Norman shutters