Mike is an introspective guy who seems reserved at first, but he has an infectious positive attitude and love for life that makes him great to be around.
(And don’t just take our word for it! Most of those who have spent some time around Mike would say the same!)
“Mike has what seems to be an endless pool of knowledge which has been super helpful as we develop the warehouse department,” Warehouse Manager Polly Pollock-Bell shares. “He understands the ‘ins and outs’ of inventorying and has already made suggestions that we’ve now implemented to make those daily inventory counts so much easier. I am so stoked to have Mike as part of our Brew Crew! He is a top notch gent with a fantastic outlook on life, which makes working with him so wonderful!”
Meet Warehouse Associate Mike Lauff!
Mike grew up in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. He went to Kutztown University for college, like a number of our fellow brew crew members, including Lab Manager Lauren Appleman and Brewer Emily Siddall! Mike spent much of his time in PA while making frequent trips with his family down to Cape May.
In 2016, he bought a house down here! “It’s actually five and a half minutes from here,” Mike says.
As in, walking distance.
No, really! During our conversation, Mike pointed behind us, towards the street just across from production. His home is just a handful of houses down that street, and he can walk to work.
Mike hasn’t just been a fan since he became our neighbor, though. He first visited in 2011, and the Tasting Room was one of he and his family’s go-to spots for their Cape May vacations.
Before joining us, Mike worked in Philadelphia and commuted for the past year and a half before the pandemic, two hours each way!
Mike previously worked as a warehouse manager at a floor covering company, running the crews that came in every day, and he also used to do specialized repair work on the side.
“Every now and then I might do a side job here or there,” he says.
However, that kind of work is usually physically gruelling, and Mike would rather save it for something better. “I save that for my grandson when he wants a horseback ride, or if he wants to play and wrestle,” he says.
It’s a crazy change of pace to go from driving hours each day for work to being able to step out of your house and get to work in a few minutes on your own two feet, but Mike has been loving it so far.
“After being around Philadelphia for most of my life, it was time to go,” he says.
“I’d always had a thought in the back of my mind about how nice it would be to work over here, and it helps that I like the beer,” he says with a smile.
After the pandemic, Mike knew he wanted to stay close by and not have to travel as far for work. Lucky for us, he saw that we were hiring, and Director of People Operations Christine Bry called him after he sent in his resume!
In fact, Cape May Brewing Company was the very first job Mike ever officially applied for with a resume.
Obviously, when a resume like Mike’s comes across our screen, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring him on board with us!
For fellow readers who are baffled by the lack of resume in Mike’s previous job ventures, he shared how he got many of his former positions.
“I ran into my friend in the bank one day when I was going to college and he said he was looking for people to work, so I went and signed up,” Mike says. “I had an older brother who worked there as well. Everything else was from friends or friends’ parents, or something like that,” he adds.
Mike was looking for something simple. “I just wanted to be an ant worker, basically,” he shares.
With his skills and experience in the warehouse, though, we knew that he’d be an asset to the team. He’s even been able to bring in his eclectic skills to improve some of our warehouse processes!
“I’m a MacGyver type of person,” Mike says. “I’ve already brought a few things like that into play this year.”
One of the ways Mike has done this is by examining where we can eliminate any damage or waste. When bringing over loosely packed empty cans to production, Mike had the idea to save the cardboard from old boxes and rewrap new cans before bringing them over.
When he and Ryan Loder made that first delivery using the new system, they found it to be highly successful. “We didn’t have a single casualty between the two of us,” he shares. For those not in the know, cans are a precious commodity around here!
Mike has also enjoyed the work culture and his fellow coworkers so far. “Ryan is great, and Polly is an exceptionally well-rounded, responsible human being,” he shares. “And a lot of the people here look to be the same. It’s nice working with people who have a good attitude, who smile and are happy.”
What seems to be a common theme among new brew crew members is the appreciation for the change in work culture. “Everyone is very helpful,” Mike shares. “If they’re not asking you if you need a helping hand, then they’re not thinking right.”
Mike has a keen eye for details, and one of his passions include nature, especially the wealth of nature that Cape May offers.
“When I was growing up, all of my friends called me Mr. Science,” he shares.
Since moving down here, he’s taken up bird watching, and also enjoys checking out the creatures that go along with the seasons, including numerous types of birds and insects.
Last year, he even had a dragonfly land on his finger. He also enjoys being able to identify different species of butterflies. “It’s fun, and gives us something to do,” he says.
Mike also brings up the lighthouse trail here in Cape May as one of his go-to trails to visit, especially for nature fans. “It’s amazing and you can see different things at different times of the year in the ponds.”
Right now, visitors might see the plethora of swans. Mike describes the sound of a group of swans flapping their wings, and being able to hear the sounds that their wings make going through the air.
It sounds pretty awesome to us!
In addition to the swans, people might see frogs, turtles, and other creatures.
“There’s a lot of bald eagles down here to see as well,” he shares. “It’s really neat. A few years ago, we were down at Higbee Beach by the ferry and we were just looking at the water, and a mother and fledgling were flying at eye level right past us. That’s always a cool experience,” he shares.
“I don’t let many things go unnoticed,” Mike says. He’s even used this sharp eye to spot two newly hatched baby turtles so that he could quickly move them to a safe place out of sight from birds and predators.
When asked about a particularly special moment he’s had in nature, Mike admits, “All of them are special.”
One moment does stand out in his memory, though.
“Last year during the pandemic, I was walking the trail and there was a little fox. Every time I turned, the fox would end up being somewhere down the same trail as me. It kept looking back at me, to see if I was following it, but I was just walking the trail and it happened to be going the same way,” he said. “It finally ducked into some trees and disappeared, but it was a neat experience.”
(Ed. note: Sounds like something out of a plot from a movie or video game! Ghost of Tsushima, anyone?)
Now that Mike is down in Cape May, he enjoys taking out his Cannondale bike every chance he gets.
“Riding bicycles is a big thing for us, and exercise. We try to walk almost every day,” he says.
Mike has four children, two sons, Mike and Tom, and two daughters, as well as four grandchildren. His daughters Amber and Kirsten work in healthcare, and Amber lives in Atlanta, working closely with the CDC.
Mike used word games with his children to make learning to communicate and articulate fun, and he also had a secret for getting his kids to eat their vegetables, too.
“I got them all to eat broccoli because I used to pour beer in it to cook it, and they all ate it because they were all like ‘oh my god, we’re getting beer!’” he shares.
Needless to say, their mother wasn’t too thrilled with that.
“You can’t even taste it,” Mike says. “It comes off, it’s no big deal.”
He used porter for the broccoli, which adds more flavor, and he’s even cooked with Cape May brews, usually by throwing some Coastal Evacuation in with mixed vegetables.
Although Mike doesn’t get to visit with family as often as he’d like to, one of his grandsons, six-year-old Jaxon, often visits in the summer.
“He actually asked me to come visit him yesterday and he wanted me to bring a praying mantis up to eat a bee that was bugging him at the house. He also wanted me to bring my Switch; he has one too, and we play remotely together,” Mike shares.
The two have a great bond, as Mike often cared for Jaxon while his daughter was going to nursing school.
“He’s funny, and he’s pretty cool, too,” Mike says. “He could tell you the make of almost every car by its symbol, and he’s been able to do that since he was three.”
That’s some impressive memory skills! Jaxon used to join Mike at his other warehouse position, and he was keenly aware of the fact that the forklift used was a Mitsubishi forklift, much like the one we use here!
Although, it’s not always referred to as a forklift in Philly. While Philly has its own regional words like jawn, they also often refer to forklifts as tow motors! ~The more you know.~
Rounding out his family is Mike’s girlfriend, Sue. They’ve been together for 14 years, and met doing youth ministry work.
Sue is an art teacher, teaching graphic art at Burlington County Institute of Technology in Medford.
He and Sue have an art studio at home, which includes a pottery wheel and kiln. Mike even makes pottery cups, mugs, and other items when he has time.
“We go to Higbee beach and collect stones and we have a rock polisher. We have some polished stones that we’ve cut,” he shares. He even has a couple of Cape May diamonds as big as his thumb!
They also enjoy gardening together, and recently planted 16 rose bushes along the driveway. During the move to Cape May, they brought a number of their plants and flowers, and now have about 160 irises as well.
Mike has a green thumb naturally, and he spent time as a kid honing those skills; growing up, his father had eight acres of farmland near Allentown, PA. “We’d go up there every weekend, and I’d have to cut grass every week, but I liked it because I learned to drive,” he says. “I couldn’t drive as a 10-year-old, but I could drive a lawn mower!”
“I’d get bored driving forwards, so every now and then I would cut the grass backwards,” he says. “Little did I know that forty years later I’d be doing the same thing with a big piece of equipment moving cases of beer.”
“I like growing things from seeds, and I developed that love as a kid. I used to love digging potatoes with my father. During the fall, we’d dig them up and it would be a competition to see who would shovel out the biggest potato. It was just fun, it was a great experience to do those things. That’s where I got my love of nature,” he says.
Mike is looking forward to more trips in the future as well.
“We take lots of road trips,” he says. “In 2016, we took a roadtrip to Mount Rushmore. We did 10 days and 4,000 miles. We went through the Badlands, too. It was fabulous.”
He even enjoys trips that don’t quite turn out how they were planned.
“One time, we were going to go to this onion festival in Vidalia, Georgia, but we couldn’t get a room. So we ended up going to White Springs, Florida and checking out the Suwannee River. There was the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center there as well. He wrote a lot of music during the 1800s, and you hear some of his songs in old cartoons. It was a neat find because our original plans didn’t work out, and it ended up being a great experience.”
As for brews, Coastal Evacuation and Cape May IPA are a few of the drinks he has the most often, but stouts and porters are his usual go-tos. “I’ll drink almost any beer if they put it in front of me. I’ll at least try it!” he says.
Reflecting on his different hobbies and experiences so far, Mike shares, “The things in life are amazing.”
He structures and surrounds his life with things that bring him joy and fulfillment in an effort to be appreciative of life as well.
“I think that’s what a lot of people have here, an appreciation for life,” he says.