Norbert Olberz, the founder of La Cañada Flintridge-based Sport Chalet, died Friday, a company spokesperson announced. He was 86.
Olberz, who arrived in the U.S. in 1955 after immigrating to Canada from his native Germany, was a fixture of the La Cañada business community and the driving force behind the recently constructed Town Center.
Olberz built Sport Chalet from a humble winter-sports-gear retailer in 1959 into a publicly-traded sporting-goods empire that now comprises 55 locations.
Craig Levra, the chairman and chief executive of Sport Chalet, said Olberz was the driving force behind the company.
“Norbert meant everything to Sport Chalet. He taught us how to run retail,” said Levra. “And [Olberz was] such a great leader, you know, an innovator of product, [he] took pride in listening to the customers and responding.”
Olberz’s greatest impact on La Cañada Flintridge can be seen on Foothill Boulevard at Angeles Crest Highway, where the Town Center finally opened in 2008 decades after he originally conceived the idea and began purchasing property.