Name: Derry Thorson
What’s your current role/title?
I am a Regional Manager and Marketing Coordinator at Lebakkens Inc. of Wisconsin dba., Lebakkens Rent to Own.
Years in RTO: 30
What did you do before RTO?
I managed a mobile PX at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Fort McCoy, located in Sparta, Wisconsin, in the summers while I was in college.
What do you do in a typical day or week?
For my regional manager role, I have daily in-store check-ins with my locations. I assist them with whatever they need to make them profitable. As a marketing coordinator, I contribute and implement all promotions. I also set the avenues necessary to get the word out, like digital, print, and even broadcast media.
How did you find your current position?
Twenty-five years ago, Jeff Lebakken offered me a new opportunity to start as a store manager with his company and work my way up as his company grew.
What are the benefits of working in rent-to-own?
The industry and our business are so dynamic, which naturally makes it personally rewarding. Every day offers up some new challenge or situation, and I like that variety in a job.
How do you manage work/life balance with your role?
Lebakkens has always offered flexibility within reason in every role I have had in the company. You just need to complete your work and do what you need to do.
What do you predict will change in our industry in the next five years?
I think stores will experience less in-person customer contact, and see more online-based business engagement and experiences.
How did you prepare for your role in RTO?
I have always been a people person, so I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in human resources. At the beginning of my time in RTO, I started as an Account Manager at a well-known rent-to-own franchise chain. Since then, I worked my way through the ranks and encountered many awesome role models who helped me with their willingness to share insights, experiences, and knowledge.
What do you love most about your job or employer?
Of course, I must give a shout-out to Jeff Lebakken for bringing me on-board. He showed me a different side of RTO. Through his family-owned RTO business, I saw how a company could be flexible and help meet customers’ and employees’ needs.