Tony Norman is Probably Worse Than You Think

Hi everyone. I know some time has passed since there has been a discussion on this website. I’ve debated quite a bit sharing my entire story, but due to the nature of one particular incident I thought was important to tell. For my safety, I am choosing to remain anonymous at this time.

I first want to say thank you to the people who have come forward, and also to thank the people who have shown their support.

The second thing I want to say is that what people have shared is not only true, it’s only scratched the surface of some of the more insane things that I have witnessed directly. I can 100% say that IFI does in fact harbor an abusive work culture. Some of us had worked there so long that those who were not abused themselves grew numb to it, and much of the behavior others have described just felt normalized over time. I won’t go into too much detail on how I in particular felt wronged, as I don’t want to be identified. I also feel that the mental trauma I deal with pales in comparison to what others have mentioned, and some even darker elements that have yet to be mentioned. There was also some thought that sharing those parts could harm their credibility as it’s a lot harder to believe. Some of the people who have come forward probably know how much worse it gets, but have not shared out of fear. I will however, share one story as just one example of how much worse it gets and why some people might be afraid.

After an event sponsored by the company, I was invited to go to Tony’s house. While I’d been to several of the parties, this would be the first and only time I had gone with just a small group. I remember it being a very uncomfortable situation, but it was also a little exciting. Initially, I was sitting at a table by the pool with a group of guys who did not work at IFI, but were apparently at his house quite a bit. Tony joined us at the table with some other guests that had arrived. This other group, I believe, were some new friends of his and it was their first time at his house. He was telling them stories about all of the things he’s done and the people he’s met, and generally just making himself seem cool for his new friends. I believe he was very intoxicated at the time, because this particular story caught my attention.

Tony had a large collection of firearms, some of which are restricted. While I personally had only seen the guns in the gun room, he told a story about how one of these in particular were once stolen from his bedroom by a local troublemaker who had come to one of his parties. After viewing camera footage he identified the person and met with local law enforcement (can’t remember if it was county or city police) and told them that if they didn’t handle the situation, that he would, and that they wouldn’t like it because he would call the “mercs” on him and said “because last time someone f—-d with my family I called the ‘mercs’ on them.”

I’m not sure how much of this story is true, and how much of it is just him trying to sound tough and cool, because why would he share this with people he barely knew? But I definitely felt like I had just heard something I wasn’t supposed to. It’s worth noting that I heard this several months after someone else closer to the “in” group drunkenly confessed that they knew Tony had paid to have someone killed in China that had given his fiancé’s family problems. Tony has also bragged about being good friends with people in organized crime, some I believe are friends of his from the Gumball 3000 thing he participates in every year. Again, this could absolutely be Tony talking himself up with partial truths or outright lies. Either way, this shows that he is either reckless and dangerous or a massive child.

I know this aspect of the situation is a lot harder to swallow, especially without proof on my end. But I think people need to understand that there are parts of this that go far beyond what has been mentioned so far and that due to the severity and potential extremes, we don’t let them just sweep these things under the rug like they have done for so long.


This must have been so hard to write and post. Please know you have my support and I hope this brings about the right change


Thank you for posting this, it’s never easy.

One question I’d like to ask the community, based on what I have observed: was the announcement of Tony’s resignation for show? I’m unfamiliar with company processes like these but I’ve heard nothing about an interim CEO, and this article about Spin Master acquiring Hexbug, published ten days ago, still refers to Norman as the CEO.


Hi Ruby, I personally have not heard updates on that matter either, other than Tony still owning half the company, as such still more than likely has a large say in who his replacement is.

I don’t want to make assumptions on this… but when they announced it, they expected to announce who the replacement was in “the next couple of weeks”. That was a month and a half ago. I think many of us were shocked they had such a short timeframe. It doesn’t surprise me that it’s taking longer, but until we see something happen or an announcement be made, all we can do is make assumptions.


Have they even publicly announced it? The only source I’ve seen was an internal email forwarded to FUN.

It was announced by Tony and published by the Greenville Herald-Banner and Yahoo.


Yahoo is just the Herald-Banner article taken word for word.


Yup, just wanted to point out that it’d been publicly stated there as well.

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They are interviewing and Tony is part of the interviewing process. In fact, either before or after one of these interviews several weeks ago, Tony decided to go over to VEX engineering and take his anger out them. So, despite the fact he’s “stepped down” he’s still showing up and making people miserable while doing it.


Does Tony’s antagonism towards VEX’s own engineering team have anything to do with the bizarre radio silence re: product status, do you think?


Not sure exactly.

I just want to say that back in Feb 22 I posted that “someone at Vex deserves to have all their bacon burn” and highly respected member of the FIRST community said I was a big meanie for what I said in jest.

Looks like that white knight sentiment aged like milk.


As stated above, the employees get the wrath of Tony. It’s hard to place the blame anywhere else besides Tony. An interesting data point; I interned at VEX starting in 2018 ending 2020. When I joined the company the Mechanical Engineering team consisted of 6 full time engineers, 2 Kettering interns per term, and 2 in management. As of today only one engineer remains from my time, one Kettering intern is full time and one of the managers got promoted to be a VP. That level of downturn has to be an indication of a bigger issue that has caused many employees to leave, maybe those that are still there don’t need the additional blame that you’re calling for.

The power goes out in your neighborhood, do you go after the line worker? I typically get upset at the energy company. Do you do the same?


I wouldn’t be too hard on the engineering team if I were you. There are some amazing people that work at IFI and even will meaning people that end up in leadership roles. Those people deserve better. Former employees know who the key perpetrators are and so do the perpetrators themselves.

The point I want to make is the problems with the culture at IFI is a lot worse than what has been mentioned so far. But there is the possibility of actual physical harm, or it at least its been implied. There is a reason for employees like Chuck who had their life threatened to take those threats seriously, whether Tony is all talk or not.


Does Tony still have his 51% share in IFI? What will his position on the board entail for IFI? There are a lot of questions left unanswered on what IFI is doing (or not doing) to clean up this mess.

Silence is loud …


Sound pretty similar…

Have Tony already fired all competent engineers and decent human beings from vex to increase the company sale value?

Have anyone explained to him that if he fires himself and never comes close again then both the company and brand valuations will skyrocket overnight?


Not only does he still own 51%. It appears to have backpedaled on his resignation. Even decided to still show up to VEX Worlds this year, because he has no shame.