• Mike Norton on running a family-owned out of home company.


    Today’s podcast guest is Mike Norton, President of Norton Outdoor Advertising, an independent out of home company with 900 traditional and 14 digital billboard displays in Ohio.  Mike represents the third generation of Nortons to run the business.  Mike sits OAAA Board of Directors, Digital billboard and Innovations committees.  Mike gives tips talks about running a family-owned company and steps you can take to minimize operating expenses.

    Mike Norton, President, Norton Outdoor AdvertisingTips on running a family-owned out of home companyI would say don’t get too top heavy with family members in the business.  Everyone in the business needs to have a defined role matching their talents and they need to be accountable.  Especially in a small company like ours there’s no room to hire somebody simply because their name happens to be Norton…Family members need to hold themselves to a higher standard than non-family employees.  Secondly, you have to mentally compartmentalize business and family.  It’s really easy and tempting to talk about business nonstop 24/7 but it’s good to have a little separation and a little space.

    On growing up in an out of home business versus working for another company.

    I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer…I think both ways can and do work.  In my particular instance with the exception of a short stint as a pizza delivery guy I came up in the business from the ground up, sweeping the shop floor when I was 14 or 15 and then cutting weeds with a machete the next 7 summers.  So I came up in the business…

    High efficiency LED lights.

    We have over the past several years changed out our lights to much more efficient lighting systems and it has taken our bills for electricity for our displays…down drastically.  If you haven’t done so already I would certainly look into that.


    I looked at solar ten years ago…The technology wasn’t there, especially for the Midwest…My sense is that in this portion of the country with the amount of space that I would have on an individual billboard we might not be there yet but it is something that I want to look toward as an energy source.

    On using Smartlink

    My uncle Dan handles all this.  I do believe we are using Smartlink…Things like Smartlink where you make sure that the lights go on and off at a certain point – every thing adds up to being more efficient as a company and saving money.

    Business management software

    We use the same software program for our scheduling and our real estate and our billing.  We happen to use Quattro through Key Systems…We’ve used that for almost 20 years now.  We have recently gone to a new proposal software through DoMedia to streamline our proposal process and to make sure that we have proposals that have the same look, feel and data regardless of the account executive who is preparing the proposal…

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