How Norbert Donelly jumped into the Tervis driver’s seat and drove

Norbert P. Donnely Chairman Tervis

Norbert P. Donnely

Retail & Consumer Products


Norbert P. Donnely

Norbert Donelly didn’t start his career with a comfortable job in his father-in-law’s business, Tervis. Rather, he began his career out of college working for a Wall Street bank. That was the scenario until 1989 when tragedy struck — and Donelly had to step up to the plate and become an entrepreneur.

Donelly’s father-in-law, John C. Winslow, had passed away. Donelly took charge of the company and from day one, he showed the traits of a successful entrepreneur with his innate ability to learn quickly and his flexibility to adapt to any situation.

Tervis, founded in 1967, is famous for the original insulated cup and for its high quality, nearly indestructible insulated tumbler. Donelly started with finding out just who were the Tervis customers, and then he made contacts and built relationships.

The more time Donelly spent learning about Tervis, the more he realized that the company produced an iconic product. He determined that he not only wanted to create a fun experience for the customers, but also for the employees of the company.

One of his main goals was to create and maintain a work environment and culture that fostered creativity, innovation, fun, flexibility and the entrepreneurial spirit.

To put his vision into effect, Donelly hired experienced employees, talented leadership, forming a knowledgeable board of directors, and taking risks. He was able to expand the product offering, install a futuristic manufacturing structure, start a licensing program, open a line of Tervis company stores, and launch an award-winning retail website.

Underneath it all, seven principles guide Tervis, which were developed by Donelly and his leadership team ranging from fostering a culture that implements innovation to managing growth intelligently.

In the past five years, Tervis has nearly quadrupled in growth, from nearly 200 to 800 employees, and sales increased by 78 percent between 2010 and 2012.

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