“I was a single mother, working as a waitress and bartender in Vermont. Electricians stopping in would often joke with me that I couldn’t do what they did every day,” says White.
Her response? “Watch me.”
While she didn’t have the physical strength of most male electricians, White knew she had the ability to work smarter. “I was in a situation where I needed to support my family and I wanted to further my education, without having to incur debt.”
Thus began White’s very successful career in an industry that to this day is still male dominated. While working as an electrician, she completed her apprenticeship and from there began accepting contracts that moved her into the electronic security field.
White started her first company, Pro-Tech Systems, in Vermont and owned it for 22 years before selling. She is now equity Partner and Executive Vice President of Central 1 Security in Wisconsin, in addition to her role as President of the Electronic Security Association (ESA).
“At first I had trouble with people taking me seriously. The more knowledge I gained in the field, the more confident I became in those situations. I could speak to specific issues comfortably and with the credibility that comes through experience,” she explains.
This should come as no surprise. White’s experience includes that of an installer, service technician, sales person, general manager, founder and owner. She holds numerous Fire Alarm Licenses and NTS accreditations.
The most telling insight into White is when asked why she started her first business. White said she first and foremost wanted to be there for her children and needed the latitude to be a mom. Owning her own business gave her that opportunity.
A Rapidly Expanding Industry: Immediate Information. Immediate Notification.
White is now presiding over a rapidly evolving and expanding industry and loves it. That is why she joined a second business after selling the first.
But to understand what motivates White, you must first understand the industry.
“We are no longer simply selling security systems, we are selling security technology that provides critical information, knowledge and convenience to consumers and businesses,” she says.
White is referring to smart security technology.
“With the advent of security technology that connects to your smart phone, you can not only be alerted remotely when someone enters your home or business. Your system can be programmed to tell you who is entering, when they entered, and through video, you can see them enter and move about the premises. It’s immediate information and immediate notification,” White says.
She is also excited about the innovative ways security providers are using this technology to address new challenges. White provides deeper insight into one way the industry is doing so.
“For example, many adults now have parents who want to remain at home as they grow older; however, this can get complicated due to health issues. No one wants to force their parents into a nursing home, but they are understandably concerned about their safety.”
White explains that in some cases, smart security technology can offer an alternative option for seniors to “age-in-place” by providing immediate, actionable information to family members and caregivers.
“Sensors can be placed around the home and programmed to send automatic alerts if something happens that is out of the norm. The alerts can provide answers to key questions, such as: Did mom get out of bed this morning? Did she open her pill box? Has a door or window been left open? Has the smoke detector been activated? Did her nurse arrive on time? Anyone who is responsible for an elderly family member knows that quick access to this information is critical.”
Another area of the industry that fascinates White is video analytics.
“Video analytics also have enormous potential. This technology provides consumers, business owners, and first responders with the ability to proactively take control of a situation with more in depth knowledge about what is happening in real-time,” says White. “In cases of emergency, understanding where people are and where they are moving in a building is critical information that can help law enforcement and emergency personnel respond appropriately.”
Creating New Job Opportunities: Workforce Development
A key challenge for White is workforce development. “The electronic security industry has a multitude of job openings waiting to be filled,” she says. “However, many job seekers are simply unaware of the opportunities to begin a career or switch to a career in the electronic security industry.”
In 2015, ESA launched the “Get Into Security” initiative to create awareness about the many career opportunities available in this growing marketplace.
“It’s an innovative, rewarding industry with immense growth opportunity, especially for women,” says White. “Women can do any job in this industry, and are especially successful in sales because they intuitively understand the underlying security concerns that drive the purchasing decision.”
An added benefit is that you can start work, earn a great salary, get on the job training and certifications, without incurring student debt. An entry-level technician can expect to make $30,000 to $50,000 to start. Compare that to the average college student who has more than $37,000 in student loan debt upon graduation.
However, that doesn’t mean the industry isn’t a good fit for college graduates either.
“I would encourage anyone, female or male, seeking a job to consider our industry. Whether you are a high school graduate, college graduate, military veteran, a retiree who wants to go back to work or someone who is simply looking for a new career there are opportunities available for you,” says White. “It’s an industry that truly makes a difference in communities across the country.”
“Like many others, my success didn’t happen overnight,” says White. “For me, it came through hard work, the connections I made through networking and sheer tenacity.”
White admits that networking is both her passion and skillset. She encourages active participation in industry organizations. “Interacting with others in your industry provides knowledge, job opportunities, connections, and most importantly the opportunity to be a part of a larger community and cause.”
What is White’s cause?
“I want to inspire others. Thirty years ago, I was a single-mother from Vermont. Now I have raised three daughters and a son, created two prosperous businesses and am president of ESA. I built my own success. It’s attainable. I did it and you can do it.”