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Gordon Segal

CEO and Founder of Crate & Barrel

  • Grew Crate and Barrel from a small storefront in Chicago into an international force with over $1 billion in annual sales
  • Inducted into the World Retail Congress’ Hall of Fame and the American Furniture Hall of Fame
  • Shares insights and stories on creating a well-rounded customer experience, innovation, and leadership development

Topics & Types
InnovationLeadershipRetailBusiness Leaders From Major BrandsCEOs

Gordon Segal is the co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Crate and Barrel, an iconic home goods and furnishings retailer. He led the brand as CEO from 1962 until his retirement in 2008 and again as interim CEO in 2014. During his tenure, Segal grew the company from a small storefront in Chicago that made $96,000 its first year into an international force to be reckoned with that boasts more than 170 stores in five countries and over $1 billion in annual sales. He accomplished this by focusing on creating a unique retail experience for customers. He gave them the feeling of bringing home a luxurious European lifestyle at an affordable price – a concept that separated Crate and Barrel from its competitors. Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Segal shares insights and stories on creating a well-rounded customer experience, innovation, and leadership development.

Designing Crate and Barrel. Then newlywed couple Gordon Segal and his wife Carole founded Crate and Barrel after realizing on their honeymoon that there was a void in the American retail market. They wanted to bring the simple, well-designed home furnishings they had seen on their European travels to the United States, aiming at providing other young couples like themselves, who had more taste than money and no place to shop, with the quality design found abroad. In 1962, they borrowed $17,000 and opened their first store in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, selling out of upended packing crates and barrels (thus earning the company’s name and emphasizing its strongest selling point – that all of their goods were directly imported from manufacturers). Their innovative concept changed the way Americans viewed housewares and transformed the American retail environment.

Segal believes that Crate and Barrel’s success comes from its focus on good design, an idea he extended even into his careful curation of a one-of-a-kind experience for customers. From the stores’ visual displays and inviting layout to its product packaging and selection of merchandise, Segal focused on tying together a cohesive experience that excited people, creating a space that is both functional and beautiful.

Awards, Retail, and Philanthropy. Gordon Segal has been inducted into the World Retail Congress’ Hall of Fame and the American Furniture Hall of Fame. He has also received the Retailing Hall of Fame Award at Texas A&M, the Cooper-Hewitt’s Design Patron Award, House Beautiful magazine’s Giant of Design designation, and the National Retail Federation Gold Medal Award.

A former chairman of the National Retail Federation and a graduate and trustee of Northwestern University, Segal serves on several civic boards, including The Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Chicago History Museum, Window to the World Communications, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He is also a member of the Chief Executives’ Organization, the Civic Committee, and the Chicago Council of Global Affairs.

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Location/Travels from: IL
$20,001 - $35,000*
US East
$20,001 - $35,000*
US West
$35,001 - $55,000*
$35,001 - $55,000*
$55,001 - $75,000*

* This specific fee falls within this range. Ranges are presented as a guideline only. Speaker fees are subject to change without notice.
For an exact quote, please contact your Leading Authorities representative.

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