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Spotlight Iowa City: From wrestling to realty, passion shines

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | APRIL 22, 2010 7:30 AM

Rob Johnson/The Daily Iowan
Tom Lepic assumes his wrestling stance at Lepic-Kroeger Realtors on Wednesday. The Iowa City native wrestled at Iowa in the early ’70s, then was a coach at West High for 11 years. After leaving West, he helped raise the money to build the football stadium and personally donated the funds for the players’ locker rooms.
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With a modest staff of six agents, lifetime Iowa City resident Tom Lepic broke into the local realty business around 25 years ago.

Now, Lepic-Kroeger Realtors boasts 56 agents, and the head man is among the established, trusted real-estate gurus in the area. The 57-year-old, though, has accomplished more than home sales in his life, which has been a journey through wrestling, teaching, and coaching.

As early as elementary school, Lepic was getting a taste of the sales life — courtesy of the Fannie Farmer cookbooks he sold door-to-door as a child.

“If they had selling contests, I always won those,” he remembered.

But Lepic’s wrestling skills largely defined his teenage and college years, giving his business acumen a run for its money.

During his senior year at City High, 1971, he finished as a state runner-up. He parlayed that into a collegiate career at the University of Iowa from 1971-75.

And even after graduation, he remained firmly entrenched in the sport.

Lepic began an 11-year stint as head wrestling coach at West High in 1975, during which he also taught physical education for seven years.

But in 1986, he did what he described as the toughest decision in life: He gave up coaching (maybe remembering his sales success early in life and hoping for a repeat performance).

What had started as a small-time realty venture has transformed into a full-fledged company. The growth of Lepic-Kroeger — which calls itself “Iowa City’s largest and oldest locally owned real-estate company” — demanded more and more of Lepic’s time.

“Wrestling had been the most important thing in my life all the way growing up,” Lepic said. “At that time I loved coaching and working with the kids. But it got to the point where I couldn’t put in the time I thought was necessary to do the best for my youngsters.”

Ernie Galer, one of four co-owners with Lepic, noted his colleague’s desire to ensure he gives intense dedication to each of his endeavors.

“He has a lot of interests, but every time he devotes his interest to one particular item, he certainly gets it done,” Galer said.

His decision presented a difficult transition, but Lepic brought his passion for wrestling to the real-estate business. According to the Lepic-Kroeger website, the company’s agents “consistently out-perform their competition, with more listings and home sales than the next three leading companies combined” from 2002-2008.

And Lepic even found a way to affect West High after giving up his coaching duties.

He spearheaded a fundraising effort that ultimately led to the construction of the school’s own football facility, Trojan Field, in 1993. The Trojans had previously shared City High’s Bates Field.
West won its first state football championship just two years later.

Marv Reiland, who has served as West’s athletics director since 1990, said that without Lepic’s efforts, the stadium’s construction would have been much more difficult to accomplish.

More importantly, Reiland and Lepic have maintained an unwavering friendship ever since.

“He’ll do anything for you,” Reiland said. “The loyalty in the friendship that we’ve had in the 20 years I’ve gotten to know him very well, it’s very meaningful to me.”


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