Norm’s Door Service will celebrate 50 years of business — and ownership by one family over three generations — at a reception on Sept. 25.
Norm Kerr opened the shop for business in 1963, and, when he retired in 2006, his daughter and son-in-law, Ruth and Jim Smith, purchased the business. Jim Smith serves as co-owner, and Ruth Smith is primary owner and president. The Smiths’ daughter, Regan, works for the company as well.
“It’s great to have that history and connection to the community,” Jim Smith said.
Although the Smiths now live in Papillion, the business has its roots in Ralston, which Smith says has contributed to the character of the business.
“We want to provide great customer service like a small business but be big enough to get our customers the best deals,” Smith said. “Ralston helps us identify as part of a small community.”
Community connection is one of the primary focuses at Norm’s Door.
The company sponsors a Ralston Girls Softball Association team, as well as contributing to the Nebraska Make-A-Wish Foundation, Wings Over the Heartland, and the Midlands Community Foundation.
“It’s a good way for us to maintain relationships and contribute to our community,” Smith said.
Smith also gives back through his civic service. Although a co-owner of Norm’s Door, he isn’t employed day-to-day for the business. He serves as a Nebraska state senator.
“I spend about half of the year in the Legislature, and the other half here helping Ruth,” Smith said, alluding to his work as the State Senator for District 14, which includes parts of Papillion and La Vista.
Smith said he decided to run for the State Legislature when Tim Gay, the former District 14 senator whom Smith describes as a good friend, decided not to run for reelection.
“Tim talked to me about running, as did members of the state Republican Party,” Smith said. “I decided to run due to my desire to do community service and to represent the interests of small businesses in our state. I want to make business-friendly policies that work with businesses instead of against them. Small business owners put in a lot of hours to grow their businesses and create jobs, just as we do here at Norm’s Door.”
Smith is not the only person connected to both Norm’s Door Service and Nebraska politics. Smith’s daughter, Regan, is currently on a leave of absence from the company while she serves as finance director for a statewide campaign that has yet to be announced.
And Norm’s Door general manager Doug Kindig also happens to be the mayor of La Vista.
“Doug was Norm’s barber for years, and he and I had talked about this position a year or more ago,” Smith said. “He had expressed interest, and there was an organizational change earlier this year that created an opportunity to hire a general manager.”
Smith said Kindig’s values are a great fit for the company, even if the two don’t always see eye to eye on politics.
“Doug and I agreed to disagree on some political issues and put that aside for business,” Smith said. “He’s been a great addition. He understands how important it is to have a connection with the customer and to show our employees that we value their work.”
The Smiths plan to show their appreciation for those who have helped them through the years at a 50th anniversary reception for customers, associates and members of the local chambers of commerce, to be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 25, at the business, 8920 Washington Circle.
“It’s an opportunity for us to say ‘thank you’ to people we’ve worked closely with over the last 50 years,” Smith said.
As for what’s in store for the future, Smith sees both tradition and growth.
“We’re thankful that the company is growing, expanding and diversifying, and we intend to continue that,” he said. “We are committed to creating new jobs without abandoning where we started — with garage doors and openers.”