Phone: 770.297.4800 | Fax: 770.287.7033 | Address: 434 Green Street Gainesville, GA 30501
John Pace loves numbers, and loves making those numbers work — but Pace himself would need plenty of time to solve the equations that drew the Chicago native to Gainesville, Ga., where he now balances the numbers for The Norton Agency.
“The stars just aligned,” Pace says, a wistful smile on his face.
Like any account sheet, however, Pace’s varied journey to his current position as Norton’s Chief Financial Officer has a very precise and tidy bottom line: he loves his job.
“There are 35-plus companies involved in this agency, 400-500 investors… There’s never a dull moment,” Pace said. “It’s a great company to work for. Our leaders are dynamic individuals, and the whole company works like a gyro — it just all works so well together.”
Certainly Pace provides a big cog in that machine — one that runs smoothly and happily as he moves from task to task.
“The secret to be successful at any job is that after you get in in the morning the next time you look at your watch you wonder where the day has gone,” Pace said. “The day goes by faster than anywhere I’ve ever been. I’ve made a lot of great friends here, and the work is challenging and interesting.”
His ability to handle those challenges began with helpful nudges from high school teachers such as Robert Burdan and early co-workers like Joan Miller, the duo touching off a veritable domino effect that led the detail-oriented Pace to into the accounting industry.
It started when a “geeky” young Pace found himself pulled out of Catholic school in the heart of Chicago and deposited in the suburbs.
“It was not an easy transition; I never had to go to gym class at St. Rita High School. I was used to wearing a tie and Hush Puppies to school. And I did not grow out of my geekiness,” chuckles Pace, who still collects the odd comic book.
What Pace did discover at Oaklawn Community High School, however, was an aptitude for numbers — an ability that his accounting teacher (Burdan) encouraged and fostered in the young student, so much so that Pace turned away from his first love in science, embarking on a banking career that wound through numerous positions before leading to… the advertising world.
Not that Pace was luring consumers into “whiter whites,” but he was helping balance the books for agencies such as A Eicoff and Co., Ogilvy and Mather and David Cravit and Associates. Along the way, Pace became a CPA, earned his Masters of Accounting and made plenty of important sales pitches of his own, however, not least when he won the hand of his bride Patti. The couple produced sons Richard and James, and it was on their numerous visits to Patti’s relatives in Orlando –- the Pace family is still Walt Disney-mad to this day -– that Pace began to think of a future in the Sunshine State.
It wasn’t to be, but when a job opportunity came open in Atlanta, Pace took the plunge, trading Italian beef sandwiches for barbecue and balancing the books at another advertising agency in 2001. Yet the long “roller coaster” ride through advertising finally ended, and, when it did, the contacts he made in the Empire State of the South, brought Pace and the Norton Agency together. And while it took some time to discover, Pace says it was — and is — a match made in heaven.
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