Retail Industry Mourns Death of Sam Taylor, CEO, Oriental Trading Company
Sam Taylor, who as CEO guided Oriental Trading Company from bankruptcy into one of Berkshire Hathaway’s success stories, died on Dec. 29 more than a year after being diagnosed with a lethal form of brain cancer. He was 56. Oriental Trading released a statement that read in part, "Sam was so completely woven into the threads of the company culture that his passing leaves an aching grief." Taylor was named CEO in May 2008. Oriental Trading Company is the nation’s largest direct retailer of value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, school supplies, toys and novelties. In 2012, Taylor oversaw the company’s sale to Berkshire Hathaway. Prior to Oriental Trading, Taylor served as senior vice president of consumer direct and HP.com at Hewlett-Packard. Previously, Taylor worked for Best Buy as senior vice president of online stores and marketing.
Total Retail's Take: The news of Sam Taylor's passing was met with much sadness in the retail industry. In a time when men of power are being chastised for their abuse of it, Talyor was lauded as a wonderful manager and a better human being. He was well-suited for the job as chief executive of a company that specializes in fun, having appeared on the “Undercover Boss” reality TV show shortly after taking the job at Oriental Trading, dressing up as a member of the rock group Kiss to perform at a company party. After his cancer diagnosis, Taylor started a YouTube channel called Cancer Cure Bus, figuring he could put his background in e-commerce and knowledge of social media to use. He often posted video messages of encouragement and his hope for a cure through faith, positivity and modern medicine.