The Turtle Story

An Entrepreneurial Success Story about Sustainable Business Practices

Turtle Plastics was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1980 by Tom Norton on the principals of environmental sustainability and safety.

Tom had just retired following a long and successful business career. But his lifelong passion for recycling and environmental sustainability and his entrepreneurial drive soon led him to launch a new venture focused on sustainable business practices, at the time a revolutionary concept.

Tom’s new company, Cleveland Reclaim Industries, got its start recycling plastic rubbish from industrial plants. Tom then had the vision to use recycled plastic to do much more: Create ergonomic safety products for cleaner, safer workplaces and saving lives.

A statement on an inspirational banner in Tom’s office – “The turtle only makes progress when it sticks its neck out” – reflected Tom’s determination to create a successful business built on sustainability. The company name soon became Turtle Plastics.

Among the earliest ventures of Turtle Plastics was the creation of the Turtle Tile™, the original, flexible, interlocking cushion tile, made in the USA and odor-free. Turtle Tiles soon set the standard for versatile heavy duty floor matting in fire/rescue, commercial, and industrial settings. Often imitated but never equaled, Turtle Tiles remain the premier cushion tile that is the ergonomic solution for almost any flooring application and for compartment matting in fire and rescue vehicles.

Turtle Plastics later in its history expanded its product offering by innovating plastic cribbing blocks for stabilizing heavy loads and vehicles in fire/rescue and industrial settings. The company’s Dura Crib™ and Dura Stat™ products are now used around the world by first responders and industrial maintenance and repair teams in leading industries.

Turtle Plastics has also created comprehensive fire and rescue kits, heavy equipment kits, and the Turtle Tube™ grain bin rescue tube in response to changing safety regulatory requirements and the needs of our customers.

In 2017, Tom and his wife Dr. Karen Bradley created the Turtle Plastics Foundation, a broad-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate, create, support, and promote educational, environmental, health, and safety initiatives worldwide.

Tom Norton’s original mission for Turtle Plastics continues today to:

  • Make and market products from materials that would otherwise be landfilled;
  • Operate our business in an environmentally friendly manner;
  • Create a spirit of peace, love, and caring for our employees and customers.

Our ongoing commitment to this mission continues to drive the way we develop our products, treat our employees, serve our customers, and create a better environment. Click here to see a short film where segments will air February 2021 on PBS Behind the Scenes with Laurence Fishburne as well as the Fox Business Network.

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