An NFIB/Texas member since 2010, the Leadership Council member shares his perspective on the burdensome franchise tax.
NFIB/Texas Leadership Council Member Profile: David Norris of Norris Centers
On April 13, NFIB/Texas will be hosting our Houston Small Business Economic Roadshow at Norris Conference Center in Houston. Here’s the story behind the NFIB-member company.
Locations: Five—two in Houston, one in Austin, one in San Antonio and one in Fort Worth.
In business for: 26 years.
NFIB: Tell us about Norris Centers.
Norris: We provide facilities for people to hold their events including: day meetings, events for corporations or an associations, evening functions, dinners, lunches, wedding receptions, Quinceaneras or Bar Mitzvahs, and galas.
Think of us like a hotel meeting space without sleeping rooms.
NFIB: 26 years ago, what made you stop and think, I want to be in my own business and launch a network of conference centers?
Norris: I attended so many meetings, and they always seemed to be unsatisfying in some fashion. Whether the setup wasn’t what we had hoped or expected, or the audio visual equipment didn’t work the way it was supposed to or didn’t work at all—or it wasn’t even there. And we had to find people to bring us coffee.
I thought, “Well, if someone did a serious meeting place, that was really good at what they did, had really nice equipment, nice facilities, great service, could we make a living out of that?” Then, I wrote a business plan in 1990. And I ran it by some of the folks in Austin, I was still living in Austin, particularly 3M, IBM and Motorola. They all read it…maybe read it is an exaggeration. They understood the concept. They allowed me to come in to visit their facilities and see what they had so that I could be an overflow for them.
I hardly remember signing the first lease. It’s like signing your life away. But I did it and we made it work.
NFIB: Why did you become an NFIB member?
Norris: We had been doing business obviously many years before and they had some good literature that was compelling. That’s about the time that this Texas margin tax, or franchise tax, was coming out and that just made me sick to my stomach. And NFIB provided me with a vehicle to get involved politically, in my opposition to the franchise tax.
NFIB: In what ways has NFIB helped your small business?
Norris: Everything they’re doing is relevant to me, and it’s the right thing to do. And so that’s why Linda and I, my wife, who’s also part of the business, participate on their Leadership Council because we want to know what they’re doing, we want to know how we can help. We’re each signed up to go to the fly-in to Washington D. C. this year. It’s an opportunity again to get involved.
NFIB: What is the biggest challenge that’s facing Texas small business owners like you?
Norris: The franchise tax needs to go away and Obamacare is a disaster waiting to happen. And we have been in a situation where they have grandfathered us for two years now, but this August, unless they grandfather it again and buy more time, it’s going to be a $200,000 hit to us, based on what I see right now. Not to mention the bureaucratic load. It’s adding so much overhead that we had to add an extra person a year ago.
NFIB: So if Texas lawmakers could grant you one legislative wish for your business, what would it be?
Norris: I’d abolish the franchise tax.