News: Member Portrait

Carlos W. Norris: Building a Career

Monday, July 30, 2018  
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When Carlos W. Norris helped launch The Crowder Construction Company Scholarship as part of the NC Safewater Endowment Fund in 2010, it was a natural extension of his values and convictions about career building. "You have to be consistent,"  says Norris. "You have to find your passion, learn what you love to do and what you're good at."

It is a credo that has guided his own career in the construction industry, from his days on a right-of-way survey crew to his current position as the chief operating officer of Crowder Constructors Inc."I really didn't know what I was learning back then," he explains, "but I do now." What he was learning then has been the foundation of a career in the construction industry that now spans more than 40 years. 

His first job led to a position with the Alabama Department of Transportation 
(ADOT), where he worked as an engineers assistant 1, alongside 20-year veterans who taught him invaluable skills and a strong foundation in basic engineering and construction. 
Eager to build on the skills he had acquired thus far, Norris accepted a position in private industry with a family-owned company in southern Alabama, not far from his hometown. Then in the 1980s and early 1990s, he traveled throughout the southeast with  a few nationally-known contractors, building water and wastewater projects. The breadth and scope of the projects allowed Norris to further expand his knowledge and skills.


In 1994, when Crowder Construction Company offered him a position as general superintendent of the southeast's water/wastewater projects, he was more than prepared. From there, he rose through he ranks, from senior project manager, operations manager, then vice president/division manager to his current position as COO of Crowder Constructors Inc. and president of its operating divisions: Crowder Construction Company, Crowder Industrial Construction LLC, and Crowder Energy Services LLC. Along with his leadership team, he oversees approximately 1100 employees, in offices from Virginia, through North and South Carolina, to Georgia. On any given day, the company is involved in 50 to 75 projects, each worth anywhere from $500,000 to $100 million.


“I work with people to help them be successful,” says Norris, adding that he ensures employees have the resources they need and that the company’s high safety standards are maintained. “I’m also heavily involved in procurement and building and maintaining relationships with clients in both the public and private sector,” he adds.  Currently living in Raleigh, Norris has come a long way – both literally and figuratively –  from the small town in southern Alabama where he grew up. “It was a difficult choice to leave family, friends, and home,” he reflects, “but I wanted to give it a shot.” Since taking that first step, Norris has been consistent in making decisions that would advance his career.

Being consistent is one of many pieces of advice he shares when talking to youth about a career in the water and wastewater industry. “People recognize a strong work ethic as much as a skill set,” he notes.  “They will want to hire you and help you. People like people who help themselves. Someone has to give you the opportunity, but then you have to seize it, capture 
it, earn it, and keep it. Perseverance, diligence, hard work -all those words you hear -“ they are not just clichés. 


To help encourage, support, and bring people into the industry, Norris joined the NC AWWA-WEA Endowment Committee, eventually serving as chair. At the same time, Crowder has become a "Named Fund" donor to the NC Safewater Endowment Fund. "We set up scholarships to encourage, support, and bring people into our industry,"reiteratesNorris. “We’ve added to our fund since we started it, giving a little above our commitment each year.”
He notes that contractors, municipalities, and engineers share a common need for attracting intelligent, technically-minded individuals to construct critical, complex infrastructure projects. “We make a positive difference in the world,” he points out. “We build things that society needs, such as bridges, water plants, buildings, and power facilities. Without people who build these things, we don’t have a society.”


To help promote the construction industry as a great place to build a  career, Norris serves on the board of directors with the Carolinas Associated General Contractors (CAGC). “I want to  be professionally involved in making a difference,” he explains. Whether it is with NC AWWA-WEA or CAGC, Norris is doing just that, raising Crowder’s and the industry’s reputation, one building block at a time.

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