Team Member Highlight: Finding Confidence and New Opportunities at Repowered

David Holocek

Behind everything we do here at Repowered is a team of amazing people. Occasionally we like to highlight a team member so you can get to know a little more about them and how they help make the Repowered magic happen.

We recently sat down with David Holocek, an Inbound Sales Specialist at Repowered, who shared a little about his story, what he does at Repowered, his experience with our Work Readiness Program, and how he has found confidence and support here. Here’s what David had to say.

Could you tell us a little of your story and how you came to work at Repowered?

I spent most of my youth overseas, growing up in Japan. After high school, I moved back to the States. I was a little bit lost, but kind of found my way. 

I started working as a medical lab technician at one of the Twin Cities hospitals, got married, and, outwardly, looked like I was living the “American Dream.” But because of some things in my past that I hadn’t dealt with, I had become an alcoholic and had some other issues. I got myself into some serious trouble and I was incarcerated in 2006. 

I just came out of incarceration last year, in early 2022, and I didn’t really know what I was going to do for work. I was 58 years old at the time, and I was thinking that, at my age, trying to start over would be difficult. 

A friend I met while I was incarcerated was working here at Repowered. We had been in contact, and he kept pestering me about this great place he was working at. But I couldn’t see myself in a recycling center or warehouse type of job. 

But after I’d been out for about a month, and had been rejected at a couple of other jobs I applied for, I thought, “What’s it going to hurt if I look into this?” So I applied for the job and they interviewed me. I still didn’t know if it was going to be a good fit for me or not, but I felt good about the people I interviewed with, so I started working. Pretty quickly, I realized I was in the right place, with the supportive environment I needed.

What has your experience been with the Work Readiness Program?

My experience with the Work Readiness Program has been really good. Right now, we have weekly meetings where speakers from outside the company will come in and talk about their programs and what they have to offer. A lot of these meetings focus on preparing people for how to get a job, how to write a resume, etc. 

This morning we had a meeting talking about the interview process (a lot of people who come through this program haven’t ever had a job). I’m not in that position, but it’s good for me to review. And when I started my past career, that was back in 1985, so things have changed a little bit since then! So it’s good for me. I like to think I’m going to be here long-term, but you never know, so if I ever have to be out looking for employment again, these things are good for me to know. 

For me, I think the Work Readiness Program is beneficial not just because of what they teach as far as the responsibilities of having a job, but also because of the supportive environment it provides. 

Amanda LaGrange used to say that we’re defined by our futures and that everybody has value, and that philosophy carries on. In the past, that’s something I had struggled with a lot, so coming to a place that’s provided me the opportunity to rebuild my life and the moral support I needed has been invaluable.  

What is your role at Repowered, and how has it progressed since you first started working here? 

I initially started out in the warehouse, in the customer dropoff area (where people come in to drop off their electronics) unloading vehicles and helping people in that way. But pretty quickly I was approached to see if I was interested in moving to the front office. 

So I came up to the front office in August of last year. I started learning sales, scheduling pickups, setting up new accounts, and so forth. I’m still here and I’m really loving it. 

My role varies depending on where you look — I’m a customer service specialist in one area, inbound sales specialist in another. So I answer phones, field questions from people curious about our hours, directions, how the residential drop off works…those kinds of general questions. 

I also deal with business customers: setting up the scheduling, if it’s a new business, giving them the information they need and setting up their accounts, and following up as needed.

I’ve also started going to some of Repowered’s external events, like the Robot Fashion Show we held at the Mall of America in April. I spoke at the event briefly, giving a presentation about who Repowered is, what we do, and the status of e-waste in the world right now. I was also asked to share my story at a recent fundraising event featuring Father Greg Boyle

What do you love about your current role?

The people I work with: it’s an amazing group of people. It’s really easy to warm up to the people here because quite a few of them have similar backgrounds, with a history of either incarceration or addiction, so we understand each other and there’s that feeling of no judgment here. 

Since being out, I haven’t had another job, and I don’t know how I would feel in another job (if I might feel self-conscious about people knowing that I had been incarcerated) but you just don’t have that here.

There’s an openness and understanding, and we’re all just who we are. We’re here to do a job and to grow, and that re-entry process back into society is a difficult one. Understanding that we’re all sharing that same path is very comforting.

How has working at Repowered affected your life?

It’s given me confidence. They’ve expanded my role a bit, having me do some outreach, going to some external networking gatherings, and things like that. 

So they’re encouraging me to grow. There was a time in my life where I was really introverted and shut down. Working at Repowered is giving me self-confidence — not just in my capabilities in my job, but also in who I am — and allowing me to spread my wings. 

What is some advice you would give to someone coming out of difficult life situations and wanting to make a change?

I would first tell them that it can be difficult and to be prepared for some rejection, but keep pushing forward. 

Every little success you have is the beginning of a cycle. Those little victories give you hope to keep moving forward, and that hope gives you motivation, and the motivation helps you keep pushing forward, and that brings you to another success. When you cross over another barrier, it gives you more hope and more motivation…and it just keeps building on itself.

I would also say pace yourself. That’s something I’ve been very deliberate about for my own re-entry: not trying to do everything all at once. 

People can get very overwhelmed trying to do too much at one time. Set goals for yourself and prioritize what you need to get done. Be patient, do one thing at a time, be open to asking for help, and things will gradually fall into place. All those little pieces will fit together and one day you’ll look around and say “Wow, I’ve come this far!” So just hang onto that patience and perseverance.

Why is it so valuable to support Repowered’s mission?

Supporting an organization like Repowered that has that dual mission (environmental and social) is very important. Our new slogan — “Fair chances for people, planet, and technology” — is a really good one because it puts people first. That’s not to say the planet is secondary, but it’s parallel to the social mission here. 

While there are a lot of companies that do electronics recycling, Repowered has that strong social mission. And I think that’s something people really care about these days — the social impact a company has.

We definitely have an environmental impact — that we’re keeping electronics out of landfills and disposing of it or repurposing it responsibly — but we’re also providing a way for people to get back out into society and be productive citizens who aren’t causing harm anymore. So I would like people to see Repowered as an organization that has great influence and great impact to society in those ways. 

How does Repowered work with organizations looking to responsibly and securely dispose of their IT Assets?

For a lot of companies, recycling and data security has really become something they talk about internally. We try to guide them, talk to their sustainability teams about responsible recycling and what can be recycled, and lay out how we handle the items that come to us. 

The goal is for them to feel confident in turning over their recycling to us, knowing that we’re not just taking it down the road and dumping it somewhere, but really putting in the work to recycle it properly and protect their data.

What’s the best way for someone to get in touch if they want to partner with Repowered? 

There are multiple ways to get in touch with us and start that conversation. You can visit our website and use the help desk to chat or give us a call at 763.432.3117. We’re more than happy to talk through what we do, how it all works, and how you can recycle your electronics responsibly while supporting the dual mission of Repowered.

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