My story begins at the age of 10 when my father and I began to renovate our 1880’s farm house (I later found out my Great, Great, Great Grandfather Josiah originally built the home!). It didn’t take long for me to get addicted to construction. My father and I tore down room after room in the farm house. Despite the evenings of respirators to fill trashcan after trashcan with horsehair plaster, I was hooked. I learned that the house had been renovated in the 1930’s but I am confident they did not redo the original plaster as we found several stalks of corn disintegrated between each stud. To this day, I believe corn is not a good choice of insulation. Once I turned 18 I realized carpentry was the only thing that made me truly happy. So, I met up with a locally known contractor in 2002, and began the journey of becoming a serious carpenter. The owner was my mentor and a fine mentor at that. He taught me a lot about construction but most importantly how to become a business minded young man.
My first attempt at self-employment began when I was 19, with Harry H. Norton Jr. Carpentry. I was young, ambitious, and stupid. I was going to Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) to get my construction associates degree and with a scattered schedule, decided to go on my own. I made it about six months before my former mentor asked me to come back and work with him. At the time I was angry and felt discounted when in actuality, my mentor saved me from myself. While working with my mentor, I took a semester off only to reenroll into a different concentration at SMCC in Architectural Drafting and Design. After working with my mentor for a year and a half, I had yet another opportunity to go off on my own with my Uncle (who at the time was working for my mentor as well).
In 2005, my second attempt at self-employment was Minutemen Construction, a partnership. My Uncle was over a decade older than me and truly specialized in roofing. However, I could not roof every day so I pushed the carpentry side of things. Unfortunately, my vision and his were not the same and after three years I decided I wanted to pursue my Bachelor’s degree and begin a new journey. I applied to the University of Maryland and after a letter which referenced my Grandmother’s Native American Symbol, the Turtle, and how much it meant to me I was accepted. In 2008, I moved to Maryland where my life became more defined.
The road less traveled lead me away from generations of Norton being the on the same piece of land in York Beach, to Silver Spring, Maryland. Upon landing in Maryland, I relied on my carpentry skills to get a with an aging in place company. Not a lot of people know this but my Grandfather was disabled his entire life and I have a serious affinity for helping the elderly and those with disabilities because of him. The owner of the aging in place company was an excellent guide in terms of becoming a better business man. I learned how to be disciplined in an office environment while balancing a schedule of work and life. My carpentry skills in the finish area were honed in as every railing had to be at a perfect height and very smooth so the customers weren’t in any sort of discomfort. I learned to cater to the specific customer while still working in the parameters of my own knowledge in the field of carpentry.
I really liked the office side of things, so I thought, and because I was pursuing a business degree I decided to join the office world. For two years while I was finishing up my degree, I sat at a desk. I found myself craving physical activity though, and I took it out on my house in Maryland. Each night I did something carpentry related. I graduated from University of Maryland in 2012 and after having a child, I realized I missed home. All the carpentry work I had completed enabled a quick sale at asking price and the move back to New England commenced. I spent two years additional years in an office and continued to take out my physical labor needs on the new house before I had come to the conclusion the office world wasn’t for me.
I founded Norton’s Carpentry and Architectural Salvage in 2014. I remember in my first job I was sweating profusely and it was only 70 degrees out because of how out of shape the office world had made me. However, I did manage to help my first customer from my Minutemen days to change his front room into a barber shop.
It wasn’t all roses and rainbows. However, each year my business becomes better known and I have more work. I continue to focus on building a better business by reflecting on what I have learned over the years. Now my business has formed a niche and I am more rapidly becoming the person to ask about anything carpentry and architectural salvage related, even if I do not do the work. And I will always provide a helpful response.