Meet Angela White, ESA’s Third Female to Receive Accolade
From a single mother working as a waitress and bartender to serving as President of the largest professional trade association in the U.S. representing the electronic life safety, security and integrated systems industry — and now the 2018 ESA Person of the Year, Angela White has truly shattered the glass ceiling.
She is celebrated as the third woman in a long list of award recipients, dating back to 1970.
Fighting the Current
“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.
"The hours were better, the pay was better and it was more conducive to family life,” she says.
Soon after entering the industry, she began to rise through the ranks.
"Early on in my career, I did it all – I installed, serviced, etc. The general manager left, and I filled that role. I was still installing, still selling,” says White. “Then the owner tried to sell the company and ended up closing it.”
Forging Her Own Path
Shortly after the company folded, she started her own security company, Pro-Tech Systems in Vermont, which she owned for 22 years before selling. After that, she revitalized Central 1 Security in Wisconsin, which she still co-owns and manages today.
“Congratulations Angela! It’s been quite a journey; as your business partner, I get to see the behind-the-scenes of what it really took to win this award. I’m extremely proud of you and thank you very much.” —Chris Utter, White’s business partner and co-owner of Central 1 Security.
To understand what motivates White, you must first understand her view of 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 alike,” she says.
During her career, White has faced many challenges. She worked hard as a single mother to support her family and balance time at home. She faced people who wouldn’t take her seriously in a predominantly male field, all the while launching two successful businesses. She forged her own path in the industry by remembering the good security companies do for society.
“There aren’t many professionals who can say they do what we do. We provide a level of comfort and peace of mind, and we have the ability to save lives. What we do is very honorable and I’m very proud to be part of a group of professionals that can claim such greatness,” says White.
“You’ve helped us navigate through some challenging times in the industry and the economy. As our industry changes, we were lucky to have you as our leader. Thank you so much and congratulations on an outstanding job.”
— Steve Firestone, president of Select Security and secretary of ESA.
She became more involved in the association and industry-at-large by first recognizing the benefits ESA could provide to her at-first small business. White recalls a meeting she had with Merlin Guilbeau, CEO of ESA, in which she realized the potential of aligning with the association.
“It was at that point that I realized the benefits ESA had specifically for me as a small company, and the amount of resources that I could get that would help me grow my business,” she says.
“I work by the numbers; I live in spreadsheets and I know that financially, membership is powerful. Let's just take the member savings program, which is one of my favorites – I can save enough money in my credit card processing that it pays for my dues. That's a no-brainer to me,” says White.
“But once I started going to the meetings and I could sit down with anybody in the industry, anywhere in the country and learn how to grow my business – it saved me time, it saved me money – just being able to take their ideas and skip the mistakes.”
After seeing these benefits in action, White decided to become even more involved in ESA, and has since dedicated countless hours of her time to serving in two state chapters
and a recent term as the national president of ESA, where she is now immediate-past president.
“I didn’t serve for accolades, nor the attention, but in the most altruistic sense for the betterment of the Association as it relates to our members and the industry as a whole,” says White.
“It is only when you give with unselfish intentions that you realize the rewards of your gift; never in my wildest dreams did I expect that by volunteering for this industry, I would get so much in return.”
White enters the group of Weinstock winners humbly and gratefully. The Weinstock Person of the Year Award, sponsored by Interlogix, acknowledges the outstanding achievement of an individual and his or her continued efforts on behalf of ESA and the industry.
“Angela’s commitment, passion and courage to lead reflect the values of Morris F. Weinstock. Congratulations, Angela.”
—Merlin Guilbeau, CEO of ESA.
“I am truly honored,” she says. “The industry professionals who have received this award all share a deliberate focus in an industry that they believe in and have dedicated their lives to ensuring its success.”
She leaves behind a trail — and perhaps even some breadcrumbs — to help guide future Weinstock Women.
“Thirty years ago, I was a single-mother from Vermont. I built my own success. It’s attainable,” she says. “I did it and so can you.”