When teaching in the classroom at the Foundation for Pool and Spa Industry Education Inc., I’m referred to as Professor FPSIE (pronounced “fip-see.”) When I wear the FPSIE executive director’s hat or serve on industry councils, committees or panels, I’m referred to as Michael Orr. Wearing these two hats occupies most of my awake time and some restless nights. The road that my life has taken up to this time has been most interesting.
Following high school, I spent three years in the electronic field servicing TV sets and mobile radio communication equipment. After hearing President Kennedy’s speech about the Cuban missile crisis, I joined the Navy and spent more than four years in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War as an electronics technician on a destroyer, with special operations (underwater demolition team) thrown in.
For the next 14 years, I was a staff scientist at Watkins Johnson Co., an electronics firm serving the National Security Agency and the CIA. By 1977, I was a manager responsible for a $35 million strategic intelligence development and production program. I also enjoyed traveling around the world, working with U.S. allies to develop their intelligence capabilities with equipment that I, and other staff engineers, had invented.
At the end of the ‘70s, I became interested in solar technology and left to start Solar-S Corp. But by 1985, President Reagan ended the solar federal tax credits, essentially shutting down the solar manufacturing business. I closed Solar-S and concentrated on solar installation for pools through Michael Orr Solar.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated California general contractor, solar contractor and pool maintenance contractor licenses -- and attended practically every training class related to pool maintenance, equipment installation and product marketing. I became active in NSPI (now APSP) in the '90s, working in the Sacramento Chapter and the NSPI Service Education Council. I also helped produce editions of the Technician Service Manual, plus the Hot Tub Service Manual.
In 2004, industry leaders Don Aston, Dick Dal Pino, Phil Gelhaus, Mike Geremia, Guy Larson and Billie Miller joined me in founding FPSIE Inc., a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit California education corporation.
You can learn more about FPSIE and its educational opportunities, at www.fpsie.org. We look forward to sharing our views on important industry issues, as well as offering FPSIE news. Please send questions/comments to email@example.com.