Norris Chief Operations Officer Craig Elkanich got a surprise recently. Unbeknownst to him, he had been nominated for a prestigious Patriot Award from the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of Guard and Reserve program. The ESGR program grants these awards to employers/managers who make life easier on National Guardsmen, Reserve members and their families.

Elkanich was nominated for the award by his employee, Joe Pomerleau, Lead Technician for the New Hampshire Office. In his nomination essay, Pomerleau lauded Elkanich’s willingness to do whatever it took to make sure Pomerleau and his family were taken care of.

“I am nominating Craig Elkanich for all the support that he has given to me and my family during my extended time on active duty. From the time I deployed, and the time I’ve spent on my temp title 10 tour, he has gone above and beyond supporting me from the start,” Pomerleau wrote. “He has offered support to my family when I have been away and he has personally overseen the upgrade to the security system for our home. He has been exceptional in keeping touch and offering his assistance.”

Pomerleau is a Technical Sergeant in the Maine Air National Guard. He’s been enlisted since October 2003.

The award was presented by Salvatore Bonetti, who, while not a veteran has a real connection to the service. He spent 18 years as a military brat and 12+ years (and still going) as a military father with two combat-veteran boys.  He has also spent seven years serving in the DoD volunteer ranks, including honoring people like Elkanich with their awards.


Norris Operations Manager


“Mr. Elkanich, I volunteer for the DoD through the ER Support of Guard & Reserve. I am here today to recognize you and give you a heartfelt thank you. When someone creates a positive experience for part of our Military Family, we enjoy saying thank you,” Bonetti said during the presentation ceremony. “FSGT Pomerleau thought enough of you to take his time and nominate you to receive this special award. It is bestowed on leaders who help our Military do their jobs without additional stresses caused by their civilian priorities.”

For his part, Elkanich says he had no idea he’d been nominated and, in fact, didn’t know what the presentation was about until Bonetti started speaking. And once he realized, he was quickly humbled by the honor.

“I had no idea what was going on right up until he started speaking,” Elkanich said. “It was an interesting feeling, one that is kind of hard to describe.  What I mean by that is—How could we be anything other than supportive to those that protect our country?  What we have done seems so insignificant compared to the sacrifices that people like Joe make to serve this country.”

Pomerleau said there was a certain bond between the type of person who dedicates him or herself to service in the military and those who dedicate themselves to life safety and security. It was a connection he has always felt while at Norris.

“I believe there’s a certain type of person that dedicates themselves to a service to help and assist others, and Norris is in the business of protecting/saving lives,” Pomerleau said. “So naturally, I think there’s a mutual attraction. Norris has also done a great job of making it known that they support first responders, veterans, and members of the Guard/reserve.”

Elkanich agrees that Norris has a special place in its heart for service and those who choose the harder path of protecting and serving.

“Norris is a life-safety-oriented company.  Many of us have been in public service in one capacity or another, and without these people who work to give back to their communities and country, we simply wouldn’t be here today,” Elkanich said. “Norris has always been truly honored to employ the men and women that sacrifice their lives to protect our country and communities, and they are often some of our hardest working and best team members we have.”

Norris recently took part in the Maine Hire A Vet Event in Augusta. It’s an annual event that is one of the largest job fairs going.

Elkanich said that he keeps his framed Patriot Award hanging on the wall of his office “as a daily reminder of those that serve, and our desire to support them.”


What is the ESGR All About?

From the ESGR website:

“the ESGR, a Department of Defense program, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 3,750 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands … ESGR has served our country for more than 45 years, fostering a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. These citizen warriors could not defend and protect us at home and abroad without the continued promise of meaningful civilian employment for themselves and their families.

What is the Patriot Award All About?

From the ESGR website

An employee serving in the National Guard or Reserve, or the spouse of a Guard or Reserve member, may nominate individual supervisors and bosses for support provided directly to the nominating Service member and his or her family. The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.”


What is Norris all about?

Norris, Inc.—a South Portland, Maine-based life-safety and security systems integrator with satellite offices in Bangor, Maine; Lee, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont—was founded nearly 40 years ago by two brothers, Brad and Harty Norris. The brothers remain on the board of directors today and continue to help steer the enterprise toward its goal of advancing life-safety, security, and communications while striving to grow in its status as Northern New England’s leading systems integrator. Norris provides fully integrated life-safety and security solutions, comprising disparate systems including fire alarm, intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, emergency notification, and communications.