Women in Fire Protection: Meet Michelle

Posted by Marty Nichter on Mar 6, 2024 11:27:54 AM

Fire protection has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. But in recent years, more females have joined companies like ORR Protection in various positions. From sales and operations to service and technical support, we see talented female leaders and technicians applying for and securing jobs in fire protection.

Michelle is one of the talented female ORR Protection associates. Michelle serves as an Account Manager in ORR’s Sales department. She recently sat down with us to discuss working in an industry dominated by men.

ORR Protection: What led you to this particular career path?

Michelle: I am second-generation fire protection. My father owned Protective Systems Inc., headquartered in Orlando, Florida,Michelle Wille from 1986 through 2016. I began working for my dad at a young age, filing and answering the phones and grew to lead the service department and selling projects.  

ORR: Can you share the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you began your career?

Michelle: The one that sticks out the most in my memory is when my dad and I were in the car on the way to a customer’s site. He told me he was putting me in sales full-time. He was raising my salary and putting me on a commission plan – the first $600,000 was house money – and then I would receive a commission on top sales dollars. I immediately started doing the math to determine what I wanted my check to be. That year I did $1.2M in sales!! I Could NOT wait for that check! Looking back, it was about the check and making my dad proud. I think that was where it all started – my love for sales. Today is a little different. I am looking for a relationship with the client, and I want to help the client protect their employees' lives and facility … and the check at the end. Ha ha!

ORR: You’re a successful business leader for ORR. Which of ORR’s core values have been the most instrumental to your success?

Michelle: The number one core value for me is integrity – I am always looking to do the right thing for our customers and team. I believe that when you do the right thing, even when no one is watching, and choose courage over comfort, you will always have work and repeat business. As a leader, I must be the hardest worker on the team and set an aspiring standard for my teammates. I am transparent, honest, and dedicated to my work. I work hard to ensure that integrity is the foundation of everything I do.

ORR: What are some of the biggest obstacles or challenges you’ve had to overcome while working in a male-dominated industry? 

Michelle: I had to learn to be confident and have thick skin. I work very hard not to take things personally. I am a strong woman and have learned that I don’t need to talk loudly or forcefully to be heard.  

ORR: Can you share any examples of things you’ve done that have helped you succeed in this industry? 

Michelle: Knowing the code has been very important for me. Being able to refer to and quote the applicable code for the opportunity I am working to close has led me to a very high quote-to-close ratio.  

ORR: If you had a close female friend who came to you with an opportunity to enter a male-dominated field, how would you advise her?

Michelle: It all depends on the personality. If my friend does not have thick skin and is not an alpha female, I would deter her. However, if she is a strong female and loves to put her energy where it matters, then absolutely do it, and do it with pride. Never doubt your abilities!

ORR: Have you seen things change for women in our industry over the last ten years? 

Michelle: I have seen this industry change for women in the past ten years out in the field. Previously, the office support team was primarily women. Now, I see female technicians, project managers, and women in fire system sales. It is exciting to watch our industry grow.IMG_1461



Topics: Our Associates

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