For CEO David Norris, GroupWorks Isn’t Just a Business — It’s Personal

David Norris is GroupWorks’ chairman and CEO. As a serial entrepreneur, David has built six companies; “GroupWorks,” he says, “is number seven.” Here, he shares the personal story of why he connected with the GroupWorks mission.

I grew up in Dallas. I built my first business — a lawn-mowing service — when I was 12. At age 14, I became a professional photographer. While I was in school at the University of Texas at Dallas, I launched my first startup: a “crazy” idea that involved putting credit-card readers at gas-station pumps and grocery-store checkout stands.

Throughout these early efforts, my mother and father were supportive, and we had a close relationship. In fact, when I was in my early 20s, and getting started in my professional career, I took up motorcycle-riding just because my father had. The two of us would literally ride together, like Ponch and Jon from the TV series, CHiPs, side by side, down the road in Dallas. Each day, he would peel off, and go to where he worked, and then I would motor on to where I worked.

From there, my father got more and more into bikes, and my mother joined in. Together, they bought a Honda Gold Wing touring motorcycle. They hitched a trailer to it, outfit it with a teddy bear, and hit the road. Their passion led them to join a local chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association, or GWRRA, an international organization for Honda enthusiasts that promotes motorcycle safety, education and fun. My parents attended chapter meetings, and went on groups rides. Through them, I got involved, too. Though most of the club members were years older than myself, our shared passion connected us. This kind of community was a new — and important — experience for me.

One day, in 1990, my parents were on a ride north of Austin, Texas. They were last in the line of about eight bikes. A pick-up truck, heading in the opposite direction, spun sideways and hit them. They both died. After, as I went through this obviously traumatic experience, the members of the local GWRRA club all but adopted me. They checked in on our family. They came to our house. They invited me to chapter meetings to make sure I stayed connected. They organized a memorial ride. And then, on the day of my parents’ funeral, they came out, on their bikes, by the hundreds, and formed a processional. They became a second family.

I share this story to show you why I’m so passionate about GroupWorks. I don’t just know that activity clubs bring value to their members; I’ve lived it. I’m living it right now; I’ve added cycling and RVing to my own personal list of group pursuits.

At GroupWorks, this passion is reflected in our mission: We want to help mature adults get active, and stay active — mentally, physically and socially — through activity-club engagement. To me, it’s not just business; it’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart.