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Columbia Sportswear is an Oregon company that manufactures and distributes outerwear and sportswear. The company began as a Boyle family business and remains under the leadership of Tim Boyle today.
At age 13, Gert Boyle and her family fled Nazi Germany and moved to Portland, Oregon. Her parents, Paul and Marie Lamfrom, founded what was then called Columbia Hat Company in 1938. After attending the University of Arizona, Gert and her husband, Neal Boyle, returned to Oregon and joined the family business.
After the death of Gert’s father, Neal became president. Six years later at the age of forty-seven, Neal died of a heart attack and Gert found herself at the helm of a financially struggling company. Her son, Tim, who was still in college, helped run the business. After a year they were advised by a banker to sell Columbia, but they would have only made a profit of $1,400 and they wisely declined.
Columbia Sportswear received an SBA loan in 1970 to increase production capacity. At the time the company had 40 employees. Today Columbia Sportswear has over 3000 employees and generates over $1 billion in revenue.
Hard work and a helpful staff made Columbia a leading global seller of outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment. Gert Boyle was the first woman to be inducted into the Sporting Goods Association Hall of Fame and was also inducted into the Global Business Hall of Fame.