From receptionist to co-owner: Sielaff flies high at Orbit Technology
IRON MOUNTAIN — Amanda Sielaff “wears a lot of hats” at Orbit Technology in Iron Mountain.
Sielaff manages the service department, handles the bookkeeping and as a certified copier technician occasionally finds herself repairing machines.
She was a single mom when she started at Orbit Technology in 2003 as a receptionist. Sielaff previously had worked piling lumber at the Goodman Mill, finishing fiberglass at a boat factory in Wausaukee Composites and also tried sales at a local radio station before finding her niche with office equipment.
Today, Sielaff owns 43 percent of Orbit Technology, while business partner Gary Unrein has 57 percent and handles the sales division of the operation.
“Nobody goes into life and says, ‘I want to work for a copier company or own a copier company.’ You find opportunities and then learn all that you can,” Sielaff said.
Sielaff started with the business working for the original owner, Gary Marsden.
“Gary was a huge mentor of mine. He took me under his wing and taught me a lot about business,” she said.
When Marsden began making plans to retire, Sielaff saw an opportunity for advancement but didn’t think she was prepared for all aspects of the business. So she decided to “seize the task” and educate herself.
“Once I got that chance, I went to Bay College, and I got a two-year business degree. I learned accounting, I took a QuickBooks class, a sales management class. I went to seminars or anything that would be relatable. There was a need for me to know more about copiers, so I went out to California and did a week training on learning to be a copier tech, I did online training,” she said.
It led to Sielaff buying into the business in 2006.
Orbit is a relatively small company, with five technicians and one customer service representative. But they service a good portion of the Upper Peninsula as the only authorized dealer in Ricoh, Savin, and Lanier brand multifunction copiers and printers.
The company sells and repairs office equipment, provides computer repair and preventative maintenance services, designs and deploys networking and offers LCD, LED and plasma TV repair.
Excellent customer service is what makes the company successful, Sielaff said. “Getting repairs right and having quality brands; we do what we need to to make sure our customers are happy and running,” she said.
Though operating a business, the 42-year-old hasn’t had to give up a personal and family life. She married Robert Sielaff in 2011. Her son, Aaron Vaness, is attending Bay College. She enjoys fishing, reading, walking and riding her new Peloton exercise bike.
While women do face “a lot of hurdles” in business, she recommends “getting an education and having the confidence to know that if you don’t know it now, you can learn it.”