CGM Celebrates 35 Years in Business!
Learn more about the founders of Chicago Glue & Machine, Irwin and Chuck.
The Early Years
It was 1984 when Irwin Katz and Chuck Siegal purchased Chicago Glue & Machine, then known as Chicago Box Machine Works. Chicago Box sold equipment that made – you guessed it – boxes, such as potdevin machines. Chuck had worked with Chicago Box while running his previous business and knew the owners were looking to sell. When they took over the company, Chuck and Irwin thought to themselves, if we’re selling the equipment why not sell the glue that goes with it? That’s how they set themselves on the path to become one of the first adhesive distributors in the country. But the process wasn’t easy – both Chuck and Irwin had a lot to learn about glue and they relied on their manufacturers to teach them as much as they could. They even took courses from their suppliers in order to become experts in adhesives.
As one of the first companies to sell adhesive equipment and glue, Chuck and Irwin made it easier for their customers. The desire to help customers and make their lives easier is still embraced today and is in large part why CGM is available 24/7/365. But, how did Chicago Box grow to become what CGM is today? Click here to read CGM’s full history.
As we celebrate 35 years in business this month, we wanted to honor our founders, Chuck Siegal and Irwin Katz:
About Irwin Katz
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love going out and talking to people and helping them solve problems. I like to help our customers see that it’s not the glue’s fault and then work together to figure out the source of the issue. I also like to come up with new adhesives for a project. My approach is to always treat our customers like they’re our biggest – because even if they only use 5 gallons of glue, that glue is instrumental to their operations.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome at CGM?
Our biggest challenge in the beginning was figuring out how to grow our business and determine the right time to hire employees. We wanted to make sure that we were fair to the people we hired and not letting them go if business slowed down. Today I’m proud to see how we overcame that challenge and have such a strong team that is supported by our company and that supports each other like family.
What has surprised you the most about running this company?
If you look at our team, we have people who have been here for years. We have a team of hard workers that are dedicated to the company and treat each other like family. We’ve figured out how to hire the right people and build a team that is close and supportive. Everybody here cares about CGM and that’s why I’ve continued to stay involved in the business.
What’s the most interesting thing from the past 35 years at CGM?
We often get interesting calls from people looking for bizarre glue applications (yes, you can ask me about the condom story!). We always enjoy hearing what ideas are out there and how we can help innovate and create new applications!
What do you think the next 35 years look like at CGM?
I think that CGM will continue to grow and generate new ideas and products. We’ll always stay in the adhesive business but continually try to do something that nobody else in the industry is doing.
What advice would you give to another entrepreneur or business owner?
1. Be prepared to spend all your time at the business and not take home a pay check for the first few years of your new venture. It will pay off in the end, though.
2. Have a game plan.
3. Treat your smallest customer as if they are your biggest.
What motto do you live by?
Be honest. Never tell anyone something you know they want to hear and if you don’t know the answer to something, say you’ll figure it out.
What’s your hobby outside the office?
Biking. I’ve been going on long bike trips for 20 years, including a two-month trip from San Francisco to New Hampshire for my 60th birthday. I also recently took up golf so I can be active outside.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
My wife and I have a timeshare in Scottsdale where we like to go to the pool, hike, golf, and enjoy the weather. We’ll be going on our first trip to the Grand Canyon in a few weeks!
About Chuck Siegal
Chuck and Irwin’s business partnership was years in the making. While they had grown up together and known each other for over 30 years, they never thought they’d someday be co-owners of an adhesive company. Chuck and Irwin were in Cub Scouts together and their parents even became close friends over the years. When Chuck was closing down his children’s record player business, he looked to Irwin as someone he wanted to start another business with. Meanwhile, Irwin had been working for his father’s demolition and scrap company and excitedly agreed to go into business with Chuck.
At Chicago Glue & Machine, Chuck was always the idea person. His passion was bringing new innovations, products and applications not only to CGM but to the adhesive industry. For example, it was Chuck that figured out how to create a glue stick machine by using the machine that made the electrical cords for the children’s record players from his first business. He also brought the hot melt equipment to CGM’s offerings and was vital in CGM becoming one of the first adhesive distributors in the US.
If anyone, whether a customer or team member, was stuck on a challenge, Chuck would be eager to jump in and help. He was motivated to see CGM grow and solidify themselves as unique innovators in the market. Irwin recalls that you could see his mind turning whenever a new opportunity arose – he instantly started thinking about creative ways to solve problems.
Chuck passed away in 2015 but his memory lives on at Chicago Glue & Machine. Today we all remember and celebrate Chuck and hope to continue making him proud of the company he helped create 35 years ago. We’re ready to begin our next 35 years with Chuck’s spirit of innovation and customer service guiding us along the way.