CHICAGO-Norman Glassberg, founder of Trade Associates Group, Ltd. (tag) died last Friday, April 26. He was 70. Glassberg was on a business trip attending the Canton Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou, China – “and doing what he loved best, the work of tag”-when he passed away, the company said.
Glassberg held a degree in biochemistry from New York University, but his interests soon turned to the home products industry, especially giftware and housewares. He became a sales representative and sales manager, and soon was named one of the original partners of International Design Group (IDG), now known as Pottery Barn.
In 1975, Glassberg arrived in Chicago with the goal of establishing his own company. He founded a representative firm he called Trade Associates Group, Ltd., or tag, and opened a giftware showroom in the Merchandise Mart. A year later, Glassberg became the American distributor for a small line of French-made candles, taking his young company in a new direction that emphasized wholesaling and the design of its own lines of products.
The company grew rapidly. By 1985, Glassberg needed more space and so purchased a former factory on Chicago’s North Side. Tag still calls the landmark building home, although in 2000 a new warehouse of 150,000 square feet was built in suburban Woodridge. In 2006, the company expanded again with the acquisition of Parallel Lines, a Chicago furniture manufacturer and wholesaler, adding tag furniture to its product assortments.
“I like to think we’re a company that is more than the sum of its parts,” Glassberg has said. “We sell textiles, candles, ceramics, glassware, furniture, and housewares, but what we’re really about is a look.”
In addition to his accomplishments in home products design and distribution, Glassberg was a dedicated philanthropist who believed in giving back to the community, contributing to dozens of local and national organizations, foundations, and public service groups, the company said. Glassberg also firmly believed in design and manufacturing standards that are responsible, sustainable, and earth-friendly, utilizing a long list of recycled and rapidly renewable materials in the design of tag products.
A service celebrating Glassberg’s life and work will be held in Chicago on Wednesday, May 8 at Chicago Sinai Congregation at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, attention Colleen Oliver, c/o tag, 1730 W Wrightwood, Chicago, Ill. 60614