On this past Saturday, April 15, Callies Performance Products’ Founder Richard (Rick) Norton Jr. passed away. Norton began working for his father, Richard Sr. at Norton Manufacturing Company full-time in 1969; a company founded by his grandfather in Fostoria, Illinois in 1950. Norton expanded the family-owned tool-and-die business into performance automotive crankshafts under the Callies name in 1989.
Shortly before then, Norton had received orders for prototype engine cranks from Ford, Chrysler and GM, with Chrysler being the first to place an order for a run of 2.2L cranks in 1982, moving Norton into larger production runs. This longstanding relationship with Chrysler paved the way for Callies to develop Mopar’s current Generation 2 426 HEMI iron engine blocks, as well as aluminum and iron Gen III HEMI engine blocks.
Rick’s son, Heath Norton and now President of Callies Performance Products, wrote on Facebook announcing his father’s passing, stating:
Yesterday we had a great one move on to his next journey. My father Richard Walter Norton Jr. (Rick Norton) joined his heavenly Father/Mother yesterday with family by his side wishing him well and praying for a peaceful journey.
He will be sorely missed by his families both at home and at work (Aviation Manufacturing, Callies Performance Products, and Energy Manufacturing Ltd.) and is a larger than life personality that asked for little and gave much to many. His generosity in life was profound, and continues with the wealth of knowledge he passed to all who spent time with him.
My father deeply loves his family (home and work) and passionately supports all in it. His grandchildren are the light of his life, they brought him continuous joy. Additionally, he is a loyal friend to many and was a unmovable rock for all of us.
He has an absolute passion for manufacturing and taught all who worked with him, and he is rewarded with fierce loyalty and dedication of his work family. We will continue our march forward to provide our customers and friends with world class products. While we will miss him walking through the shop, we know he will always be with us and continue to cheer us all on!
It is hard to loose your boss, friend, mentor and most importantly your father all at once, but I live with the comfort of the many conversations and lessons he taught me to keep our dreams alive and execute our plans for Aviation, Callies, and Energy.
Godspeed on your journey Dad, I do not have words to describe what you meant to me. I love you and will always hold you in my heart. Today we morn, tomorrow we make crankshafts, connecting rods, camshafts and engine blocks. Just as he would expect and demand of us.
Earlier this year, Engine Builder Magazine conducted an excellent interview with Rick and Heath Norton about the history of Callies Performance Products, Inc. which we recommend watching (after our shop tour video included below):