Five Questions With Norris Gearhart

  1. How did you become involved in this industry?

    I was working as a steeplejack restoring historic steeples, towers and domes around the United States. This required me to be away from home a lot. My daughter was two years old, and my son was a newborn. Being away was hard on the family. I answered an ad in the paper for a carpenter position and was hired by Ted Jenkins. Ted had a concrete company at the time, though he had done some insurance restoration work in South Florida when he first came back from Vietnam and remembered it to be a better gig than concrete. We later formed Allied Fire & Flood, and the rest is history.
  2. As a professional and instructor who holds the CR designation, how important is it for individuals in this industry to consider obtaining that designation?

    I earned my CR #106 in 1992. I learned a tremendous amount through that process. Two things stand out to me. One was the validation of the things I had learned through the years working in the industry and my training and the confidence I felt as a result. The other — and this is just one of Martin King’s gifts of wisdom to me — was to see myself as a professional within a specialized professional industry, not just a contractor who did fire work. The certified restorer designation helps to validate your level of professionalism and distinguish you from the herd. As a CR, you become part of a unique fraternity of professionals committed to being exceptional in their field.
  3. What are the greatest changes you’ve seen in this industry in the last 10 years?

    The influence of third-party administrators and the reliance on estimating software. Unfortunately, knowledge, skill, common sense and too often the integrity of the claim process are lost to this market dynamic.
  4. Who have your mentors been in the industry?

    My first business partner Ted Jenkins, Martin King and Cliff Zlotnick.
  5. What’s one thing that very few people know about you?

    I am a published free-fall photographer.

This article was shared in C&R with the permission of the Restoration Industry Association.

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