To be successful, a business has to navigate through challenges and tough times. One Baltimore County company has done just that and continues to expand even when some doubted it.
Fireline Corporation recently celebrated 75 years of service, helping clients put out or identify the cause of a fire. Fireline’s president, Anna Gavin, has led the company since 2010, and has grown the women-owned group from 140 to 240 employees during her tenure.
Recently, Gavin received the Governor’s Citation from Larry Hogan, and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski declared Aug. 1, 2022, “Fireline Corporation Day.” To celebrate the occasion, Gavin said they will be holding a company picnic with fun games and looking at old pictures.
“We’ve been a part of the Maryland business community for 75 years, and so it was very special,” Gavin said.
Gavin took over the company in her late 20s in the middle of a recession, after both her father and grandfather passed away within a year of each other. With low expectations for the company when she began as president in 2010, Gavin leaned into making technological advancements to improve the company.
“When I came in, I think it was expected that I would either sell the company, or run it into the ground,” Gavin said. “I’m really proud that we passed the first couple years through a tough recession, and that we’re still sitting here now.”
In the current economy which has problems with employee retention, Fireline has not had any problem with keeping employees. Gavin said that some people spend their whole career with Fireline, and that as the company celebrated its 50th anniversary, some employees also celebrated 50 years with the company at the same time.
Gavin mentioned that the average employee tenure with the company is more than 10 years and that 80% of Fireline’s employees are referrals from current employees.
“We have always stayed true to the family business model, where it’s ‘We take care of you, and you take care of our customers,’ ” Gavin said. “The investment in training has also been a big part of it. We really invested heavily in training about five years ago.”
Fireline has worked with many large companies such as the Social Security Administration, Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport, the Exelon Corporation and Mount Vernon.
For a company like Exelon, Fireline installs a specialty suppression system. Other common jobs include sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems, but the “bread and butter” is fire extinguisher’s which is what Gavin’s grandfather originally started making when he started Fireline in 1947.
Gavin is looking to build off of the company’s success, and thinks that the framework they have built by hiring women into management roles will help.
“We’re tapping into a whole half of the company that really was not typically done before,” said Gavin. “When I got here, women were mainly in support roles. We have a lot more women in leadership now, and it’s really moved us forward, even more quickly I think than our competitors.”