In 2010, Tricia Rhea took the reigns of Norton Industries from her father. Jack Norton started the company out of the basement of his Cleveland Heights home in 1967. Working alongside Jack since 1987, Tricia had spent 23 years preparing for this role. When Jack decided to retire to care for his wife, Tricia’s mother, whose health was failing, Tricia was poised to step in.
As Tricia settled into her new role at the helm of the company, she made the decision to focus resources on wood ceilings rather than luminous ones. “We were getting by and that was fine”, until 2013, when a devastating cancer diagnosis turned her world upside down. During treatment, “I had the opportunity and blessing to look at my priorities,” she recalls. “I made the decision that if I was going to work every day, then I wanted to be doing something fantastic and amazing and not status quo.”
This decision brought sweeping changes to the company - a revamped sales force, dramatic shifts in the manufacturing process, and a major investment in new technology and equipment. The gamble paid off. “I could tell it was working by the sales reps’ energy, the feedback we were getting and by repeat customers,” she says
Since 2013, Norton Industries has more than doubled in size and sales, with 45 employees, 14 ceiling prototypes, and 28 different wood options.
Tricia credits her success to a mindset shift. “What finally happened is that I got out of the daughter role and stepped into the ‘I’m president of a manufacturing company’ role,” she says. “I gave myself permission not to need my father’s permission anymore.”