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John Lepone: On Not Being Boxed In

John Lepone
John Lepone ’95

Before working with Verizon for 15 years, John Lepone (Computer Science 95) took a significant step in the world of web programming. “In the late ’90s I created the world’s first business credit card application website for Advanta Business Cards, a division of Advanta National Bank,” said Lepone. “This is not a big deal today, but back then it was HUGE.”

After programming business websites for 8 years, Lepone began working for Verizon in 2003, a position that would last 15 years and lead to him becoming a senior member of technical staff. While there, he was involved with both business and programming sides of the company, managing projects, software development, and technical guidelines, as well as programming software for automated data entry and processing systems within the company to further company efficiency.

In 2013, Lepone assisted his wife Kimberly (English Education ’94) in starting Reflections Dramatic Productions, LLC. Each year, Kimberly directs Christian homeschool students for two separate plays that show either clear application of biblical principles or give a direct presentation of the gospel. After seeing her need on the technical side of the plays, Lepone stepped in to help. Lepone developed and programmed custom theater lights and sound production applications, and designed scene lighting to provide live lighting changes and sound cues for each of the performances. “With each performance, I get to work with my wife, my children, and other Christians to help further the gospel,” he said.

In 2018, John Lepone launched LEP1 Customs, LLC, a small CNC design and production company that builds arcade video game cabinets and custom cabinet skins. The idea to start the business began in 2012 with his successful hobby of building and selling the cabinets from his garage after building a CNC machine, an automated machine that cuts material to match a preprogrammed blueprint. Soon after starting the company, it seemed to be in the Lord’s timing.

Although John thrived at Verizon, an organizational shift brought layoffs to the company but gave him an offer to transfer to an India-based consulting firm. “Not having peace with this situation, and praying over it with my wife Kim, I declined the offer, and made plans to operate LEP1 Customs full time.”

Since then, Lepone has partnered with Pete Wagg (Advertising/Public Relations ’94), a graphic designer that he’s known since his time at PCC, to provide the artwork for the arcade cabinets. Before working on LEP1 Customs, Pete and his wife Cindy (Secretarial Administration ’94) had been prayer warriors for the family due to health needs as well as good friends over the years. It only seemed natural for him to turn to Pete as a mutually beneficial business partner.

Much of the work John does for LEP1 Customs covers more than just programming skills. He’s done everything from creating the g-code blueprint of the cabinets to programming, editing, and running the company website.

“Having faculty members like Dr. Cummings [who has since retired] and Dr. Howell, who were previously in the corporate world before coming to PCC to pass their hard-earned knowledge to students, was invaluable,” he said. “Many people graduate from college with an extreme focus in an area and cannot operate outside of that narrow band. The education I received at PCC allowed me to grow into a well-rounded person that can succeed in areas where others without the broad technological understanding would fail. Let’s face it, no matter how good a school is, the technology changes so fast that what you learned a year ago is behind the times. What doesn’t change is theory, design principles, and such,” which he got plenty of, he said.

Over the years, John Lepone has seen his daughters attend and graduate from PCC and find comfort in their calling to study there just as he had. “After coming down for College Days, meeting with the computer science faculty, and seeing the campus with my own eyes, I was sure that PCC was the college for me,” Lepone said. “What greater joy can we realize in our children that after salvation they seek to do the Lord’s will in whatever God has for them to do? The fact that they believed that studying at PCC was part of God’s will is just icing on the cake.”

John Lepone finds comfort in how his life has progressed, following the Lord wherever He seems to nudge him to next. “It seems His preferred way to teach me is to bring me to the brink of an impossible situation, let me see how hopelessly inadequate I am to resolve it, only to work out everything in a way that I could never imagine,” he said. “God has shown that He knows what we need and will never fail us.”

Check out PCC’s engineering department for majors in computer science and information technology.

Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.