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issue: October 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Kevin Norby of Fenwal Controls

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“I enjoy outdoor pursuits that tie decision making, adventure, and travel together,” Norby says. He’s an FAA-certified flight instructor and multiengine commercial pilot, and he recently took up coastal sailing. “I have a Harley-Davidson Sportster that doesn’t get enough use,” he adds.

Kevin Norby’s interest in electronics started early and has taken him far.

“I developed an interest in radio and electronics from my dad and elected to pursue a career in engineering,” he says. He received a BSEE degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. “After graduation I was accepted into General Electric’s Edison Engineering Program that included rotating job assignments and courses toward my MSEE degree from Syracuse University.”

He completed his BS in 1979 and MS in 1985. After five years with GE designing radar systems, he joined Carrier Corp./UTC, where he developed commercial HVAC electronics and building controls.

His career path wasn’t free of speed bumps. In 1992, after completing a successful project, Norby was laid off from Carrier during a downsizing.

“It was a stressful time with a young family to support and trying to find challenging work during a weak economy,” he says.  Looking back, he comments that he should have taken the time to enjoy it as a break in a hectic career.  Instead, Norby relocated to Massachusetts in 1993 to work for controls maker Fenwal, part of the Kidde group. (Ironically, the Kidde companies were purchased by Carrier parent UTC in 2005. “Now I joke that perhaps they wouldn’t have done so if they knew I was part of the deal.”)

At Kidde-Fenwal, Norby has been involved in design engineering, management, and product marketing for smoke detectors, gas ignition controls, and temperature controls.

One of the most challenging and rewarding periods in his Fenwal career came in 1997. “I was asked to take on a ‘temporary’ assignment to develop a new-generation ignition control that would take Fenwal Controls to a new level of quality, performance, and value to our customers,” he relates. “The resulting design family helped us expand our business in existing and new markets. I have been involved with the ignition controls group ever since.”

Today Norby serves as product and program manager for Fenwal Controls. “This role involves both technical direction and specification for new product programs, as well as product portfolio management to optimize our product range for the markets we serve,” he explains. “In the past year we have transitioned from internal manufacturing to a global sourcing strategy for our electronics products. This required us to change focus from offering custom-manufactured products for small- to midsized OEMs to making our designs even more flexible so they can be customized through software after the manufacturing process.”

Norby credits some of his success to the sage advice he received early on. “My first boss at a co-op job with IBM Corp. told me his two most important rules for success: ‘You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ and ‘Always have a firm handshake.’ He was right on both counts,” Norby says. “The confidence that comes from being prepared to do your best helps to inspire confidence in others.”


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