Gertrude Boyle (1924-)

In 1970, when Gert Boyle became the president of Columbia Sportswear, the company was a small, struggling organization with low profit margins. Five years later, Columbia went international and was expanding at an impressive rate.

Updated: July 25, 2013

Introduction

Gert Boyle (born March 6, 1924 in Augsburg, Germany) was born into a family that had run a highly profitable textile manufacturing business in Germany for generations, with no sign of an end. But that unforeseen end was forced upon Paul Lammfromm, Gert’s father, with the rise of Nazi power and growing anti-Semitism in the country. In 1936, when Paul began the process of moving his family to the United States, he could not have known that the values he was instilling in his daughter, and the very experience of immigration, would one day allow her to become a leader in a male-dominated industry and grow her business into one of the largest outdoor apparel and footwear companies in the world. In 1970, when Gert Boyle became the president of Columbia Sportswear, the company was a small, struggling organization with low profit margins. Five years later, Columbia went international and was expanding at an impressive rate. Still one of the leading brands in the outdoor apparel industry today, Columbia is also one of the most identifiable, as is its (now former) president. With the determination learned from her father, who abandoned everything he had worked for to move his family halfway across the world, and the “steel spine” inherited from her mother, who had been a nurse in World War I and juggled a busy household in the United States while putting in time at her husband’s new business, Gert Boyle truly became “one tough mother.”[1]

Family and Ethnic Background

Paul Lammfromm, Gert’s father, came from a long line of successful shirt manufacturers in Germany. Born into a Jewish family in Augsburg, Germany, on February 19, 1888, he was a merchant all his life, co-owning the local textile business “Lammfromm und Biedermann” and doing quite well until the 1930s when conditions for Jews in Germany deteriorated. His business was Arianized in 1937, causing the Lammfromm family to lose nearly all their assets. It passed into the hands of the Oelkrug family, where it remains a shirt-making enterprise to this day.[2] Paul wed Gert’s mother, Marie Lammfromm (née Epstein), born in Augsburg on June 19, 1896, in 1921.

Gertrude Boyle was born on March 6, 1924, in Augsburg. This southern Bavarian city of approximately 165,000 inhabitants at the time was an important player in the European textile industry. What began in the late eighteenth century with a local calico manufacturer had grown into a thriving conglomeration of several large textile manufacturing plants by the beginning of the twentieth century. Gert led a largely uneventful childhood, going to public school, spending time with her friends, secure in the knowledge that her father’s business was strong. Then, the Nazis seized power in 1933 and the first boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses began. With that shift in the government, Gert’s life and the lives of her family members changed dramatically and shaped her future and the type of woman she grew to become.

Through perseverance and luck, Paul Lammfromm managed to obtain all the papers necessary to move his family out of Germany. In July 1937, Paul, Marie and daughters Hildegard (born 1922), Gertrude, and Eva (born 1929) left on the SS Manhattan out of Hamburg, Germany, bound for America. According to Gertrude Boyle’s autobiography, her father wanted to disembark with his family in New York City and take the train to Oregon, where his older brother was already living.[3] However, these plans fell through and the family remained on board the ship, sailed through the Panama Canal, and finally disembarked in San Francisco, where Paul’s mother had moved a few years earlier. From there, Paul Lamfrom—who changed the spelling of the family name upon arrival in the U.S.—was able to purchase train tickets with money borrowed from his mother. Paul, Marie, and their daughters reached their final destination of Portland, Oregon, on August 28, 1937.[4] The longer route was made necessary by a law passed in Germany that effectively limited the amount of money immigrants could take with them when leaving the country to only $20 (about $300 in 2010 USD).[5] Instead of trying to take money, the Lamfrom family brought furniture, shoes, and clothes. And with such preparations completed, the family settled into their new life.

Arriving in the United States in 1937, Gertrude “Gert” Boyle could not have known the twists her life would take. She remembers that at thirteen years of age, she was only aware of the grand adventure she was on, moving to a new country and starting a new life, and was mostly ignorant of the horrors that could have befallen them if her family had not fled Germany. She spoke no English, and thus was placed in first grade. Two weeks later she moved up to (the more age-appropriate) seventh grade.[6] Paul began working at a cousin’s company and was able to borrow money to purchase a small company himself, the Rosenfeld Hat Company.[7] Soon after he changed the name to Columbia Hat Company in honor of the Columbia river that flows through Portland—and the basis for Columbia Sportswear was born. From him, Gert learned that a strong work ethic is the base for a strong company. Paul also taught his family that making money should not be the only measure of success, and that treatment of the employees is nearly as important: “If you are loyal to your employees and treat them with kindness, respect, and concern, you will earn that loyalty back tenfold.”[8] Marie Lamfrom, Gert Boyle’s mother, ran the household, offered opinions on hat styles, and kept the books for the Columbia Hat Company.[9]

After high school, Gert ventured out on her own, leaving Portland in 1943 to attend the University of Arizona and pursue a B.A. in sociology. It was there that she met her future husband, Joseph Cornelius “Neal” Boyle. She recounts their first encounter in her signature style:

My children have long been embarrassed by the fact that I met their father under a table. Over the years, they have adopted a version of the story wherein I was looking for something I dropped and he volunteered to help me find it. A nice story, but not true. What really happened was that I was at a Sigma Nu fraternity party…it was hot outside, and the cold alcoholic beverages at the party were plentiful and hard to resist—so I didn’t. I ended up under the table because I was having problems standing up. Their father was there because he was in the same condition.[10]

Despite coming from very different backgrounds—Neal was an Irish-Catholic from Pennsylvania—Neal and Gert wed on August 28, 1948, at All Saints Church in Portland, Oregon.[11] After completing their degrees, the couple returned to Portland, Oregon, and Neal began to work for Columbia and Gert’s father. While Paul Lamfrom ran the practical side of Columbia, Neal made sure that the company’s vision met the needs of the customers. Gert devoted herself to raising their three young children Timothy (born 1949), Kathleen, and Sarah (born in the 1950s), and running the household.[12]

As the popularity of hats began to decline and clothing styles became more casual in the 1950s and 1960s, Columbia expanded into selling—and soon manufacturing themselves—outerwear for hunters, fishermen, and skiers. The Columbia Manufacturing Company was established in 1959. Then, one year later, Columbia Sportswear was created by merging the manufacturing company and hat store. Beginning with the development of an innovative fishing vest, followed by durable raingear, Columbia embarked on a path that would serve it well in the future: listening to its customers and their needs, improving existing products, and selling them at reasonable prices. [13] The ever-increasing line of products continued, even after the sudden death of Paul Lamfrom on June 1, 1964. While this was a significant hardship for the family and the company, Neal Boyle was prepared to step to the forefront and continued running the business. Marie Lamfrom became the CFO of Columbia, which was grossing $400,000 per year at the time.[14] What no one expected was that only six years later Neal, too, would die—from a massive and unforeseen heart attack. On December 4, 1970, Gertrude Boyle’s life was radically altered as she was forced out of her role as housewife and mother and into the limelight as president of Columbia Sportswear.

Tough Beginnings

While Paul Lamfrom and Neal Boyle had made Columbia a productive company, it was not a largely profitable one. “While annual sales slowly grew under Neal’s leadership…it was still a struggle to show a profit at the end of the year,” Gert remembers.[15] When she took over the company at age forty-six in December 1970, nobody knew that she would take its small yearly profit and eventually turn Columbia Sportswear into an international, multi-million dollar operation. She enlisted her son Tim’s help, who at the time was a senior at the University of Oregon studying journalism and political science.[16] In the months before his death, Neal had taken out an SBA loan for $150,000, putting their house, Marie Lamfrom’s house, the family beach house, and his life insurance up as collateral. If Gert and Tim Boyle could not stabilize the situation and maintain the relationships they had with their suppliers and the bank, Columbia would soon face an abrupt end. “When I took over the company,” Gert recalls, “it wasn’t something that I did by choice. It was something that I had to do because we had taken out an SBA loan.”[17]

She credits her father for having taught her to always look ahead instead of dwelling on the past. Thus, determined, Gert and Tim set to work. The first years were rocky. Suppliers were reluctant to extend credit or pulled out of Columbia altogether, and the bank kept a close eye on the company’s deteriorating financial situation. Sales, at roughly $1 million in 1970, dropped to half that number by 1971.[18] Tim, his plans of going to law school thwarted, finished college and joined the business full-time at age twenty-one as general manager. He later conceded, “We made every mistake in the book.”[19] Mother and son slashed their own salaries and worked around the clock, often on the production floor themselves. Faced by an ultimatum from the bank, Gert considered selling the company but was offered such a low price that she remembers exclaiming “For 1,400 dollars, I would just as soon run this business into the ground myself!”[20]

So she set out to improve customer satisfaction by listening more closely to her customers and catering to their requests. Her first foray into this area had come in early 1960, when she designed the first Columbia Sportswear fishing vest. She remembers how Neal had related a story of a customer who wanted to know “when Columbia would make a fishing vest with enough pockets to store their flies, pliers, line, and other necessities.”[21] Gert had never gone fishing, but sought the expertise of Neal and fishermen friends to develop a prototype that became a success.[22] From this, Gert learned a valuable lesson that would serve her well during her time as head of Columbia: “We don’t conduct product research in a design ivory tower or laboratory. We simply talk to our customers about what they want to buy, and we make it.”[23] This simplicity of concept reflects Gert’s straightforward thinking and the strong connection between Columbia and its consumers upon which she built.

Gert also believed strongly in knowing a product inside and out. During the first year of their marriage, Neal had earned money by selling vacuum cleaners. He had closed many of his sales by offering free repairs to his customers if a problem arose. At the time, he didn’t actually know how to perform these repairs, however. Gert remembers spending evenings taking apart old vacuum cleaners and putting them back together in order to learn more about how the products worked.[24] The experience of having to know a product in order to sell a product now proved useful. As the very hands-on leader of Columbia, Gert insisted on knowing her products, their weaknesses and their strengths, and having a hand in their creation.

Oregon’s Athletic and Outdoor Industry Cluster

Fortunately for Gert and Tim, Columbia Sportswear is headquartered in a unique area. Athletic goods make up a significant portion of the economy and have made Portland “a force to be reckoned with in the Athletic & Outdoor world.”[25] Today anchored by big companies such as Nike, Adidas, and Columbia, but also by more than seven hundred smaller players, Portland and the surrounding area are part of what is recognized as an athletic and outdoor industry cluster characterized by innovation, high wages, a strong geographic concentration, and strong connections to the culture and quality of life in the community.[26] The cluster grew out of local pioneering firms such as Pendleton Woolen Mills (since the late nineteenth century), the Hirsch-Weis Manufacturing Company (since 1907), Jantzen (since 1910), or Danner (since 1932), and began developing more tightly in the early 1970s with the founding of Nike. Incorporated in Oregon in 1968, Nike has had a crucial impact on the whole industry, providing a strong talent pool and an encouraging environment for further start-ups. Other factors, such as a high concentration of supplier firms, knowledge spillovers, the general outdoor recreation culture, and an active local population that is willing to try new products and provide feedback have aided development of the cluster. Over the past decades, manufacturing has almost entirely been moved offshore, and the focus has shifted to the more high-value, creative activities of design, marketing, finance, logistics, and management. [27]

Knowledge, ideas, and talent often flow freely between the companies. As Tim Boyle notes, “The region’s large talent pool is both the region’s biggest advantage and its biggest disadvantage—because it attracts other firms that may hire away a firm’s own talented workers, and tends to bid up the price of skilled workers.”[28] This movement between companies strengthens the cluster overall. And while competition is fierce, there is also a widespread ethic of cooperation. In the end, everyone in the industry knows each other. This friendly spirit between the companies highly benefitted Columbia Sportswear when it needed it the most.

Previously reluctant to ask for advice, Gert and Tim decided to create an informal board of advisors in the early 1970s.[29] A handful of prominent men in the industry—heads of firms that were competitors but who had been close to Neal—came together to support the struggling company. Gert, and Columbia, simply was one of their own. And although Gert may attribute this help to the pity these men may have felt for the widow and son of the late Neal Boyle, it points to the unusually close camaraderie that developed in the Portland outdoor industry cluster.

In addition to the board of advisors, which was a general example of the help that Gert and Tim received, a more specific example came in the form of Harold S. Hirsch, who had founded the White Stag Company.[30] Hirsch began White Stag in the corner of his family’s Hirsch-Weis Company factory in 1929, designing gear for downhill skiing at a time when downhill skiing had few followers and almost no national attention. He became something of a giant in the industry and was a highly prominent figure in Portland at his death in 1990.[31] He took Tim with him to some of the trade shows, and this apprenticeship, of sorts, inspired others to believe in Tim and his abilities, which in turn profited Columbia. Hirsch’s confidence in Tim was well placed, but without it, Columbia’s new management may have never been able to establish themselves at the trade shows, a highly important part of the business.

So the question becomes: Did Gert Boyle succeed in her struggles to make Columbia a success because of the knowledge, skills, and strengths she acquired through her family background and immigrant experience or were she and Tim simply lucky enough to find themselves in the right place at the right time in the right business? While a case can be made for either of these ideas, a combination of the two seems the most likely. When Gert Boyle took over the company that her father and husband had designed, she utilized any resource at her disposal—the skills learned from her immigrant parents; life experience; her own personality, drive, and work ethic; the strength of the outdoor industry cluster at Columbia’s doorstep; and the cooperative mentality of the experts around her.

Business Development and Marketing Strategies

Following the advice of the advisory board, Gert dramatically cut down on the number of products Columbia offered and instead focused on selling high-quality, popular items at reasonable prices. She also assessed human resource expenses and let one third of the staff go.[32] The new strategy paid off, and sales surged. Five years after Gert took over the company, Columbia Sportswear went international. In 1982, Columbia produced the first Quad Parka, a success and the forerunner to one of Columbia’s biggest hits. It allowed skiers to adjust to different weather conditions by providing separate layers for insulation and water resistance, to be used interchangeably. Columbia was able to sell this jacket for less than half ($100) than what its competitors were demanding ($250).[33]

While other companies chose to sell their apparel at specialty stores only, Columbia placed products in any store that sold clothing. This approach was somewhat revolutionary at the time. At first it was mostly Tim who pushed for mass-market sales channels, while Gert was more critical of the idea. It caused friction between mother and son, but Gert eventually came around.[34] Columbia also did not market only to outdoorsmen: “Gert took Neal’s Columbia, whose core customers were serious outdoorspeople, and made it a company for anyone who fancies a fleece vest: students, suburbanites, babies.”[35] The broad range of consumers described in a recent company report includes elite mountain climbers, winter outdoor enthusiasts, hunting and fishing enthusiasts, top endurance trail runners, “outdoor-inspired consumers,” and users of collegiate apparel and accessories.[36]

Through the turbulent years during the financial crisis in the 1980s, and again in the late 1990s, Columbia stuck with this business plan. It sold to a wide audience via a multitude of retail channels, expanding its selection at department stores in particular. Columbia stayed strong, even when other companies were beginning to falter. Shoppers appreciated the fact that Columbia’s ware was often cheaper than their rivals’. On the eve of the company going public in March 1998 at $18 a share, newspapers predicted that investors would be “left smiling,” given the company’s increase in sales to $353.5 million in 1997 from $18.8 million ten years earlier.[37] In the five years between 1996 and 2001, Columbia’s sales would multiply again, from $299 million to $780 million.[38]

At first Columbia only advertised in very specialized publications, since this way it could target a more specific audience and didn’t need a large budget to do so.[39] Then, a marketing campaign that would alter the landscape forever, creating iconic, outlandish ads, as well as a downright cult of personality around “Ma Boyle,” was launched in 1984. Now, instead of only a different philosophy about where to sell their products, Columbia would have a different philosophy about how to sell their products. The “tough mother” ad campaign was the brainchild of the Portland-based advertising agency Borders Perrin Norrander (BPN). By playing on the mother-son relationship and portraying Gert as a mother that was willing to put her son through just about anything to prove the mettle of a product, BPN launched Columbia into a new phase of marketing and success. Sporting a photo of Gert and lines like “Protective, but not overly warm. Just like the parka” or “Unlike our chairman, it’s uncomplicated and lightweight,” the ads were a huge hit. Not only did this campaign make Columbia more visible, it also set it apart from competitors like Nike who had larger budgets but less memorable advertising. “It’s always been a Columbia trademark to be a sharper nail rather than a heavier hammer,” BPN director of client services Jack Peterson points out.[40] The print ads appeared in specialty magazines such as Skiing, Backpacker, and Outdoor as well as in broader publications like Rolling Stone, Men’s Health and People. Originally convinced to play the part by her son, Gert became known as the toughest mom around, right down to the “Born to Nag” tattoo she sometimes sported. Sales exploded and Gert’s face became instantly recognizable. She became synonymous with “the cranky and crotchety old broad [who] made sure that [customers] were getting a good product at a fair price.”[41]

In 1990, Gert and Tim began producing TV commercials, too.[42] Tim is seen being put through a car wash, strapped to the roof of a car, buried under ice, and suffering several other indignities at the hands of his mother—all in the name of making sure Columbia’s clothing withstands the elements. Two more recent commercials show Tim being pushed into a cement mixer and being left on a glacier. The clips were aired mostly in the northern U.S., on cable and spot TV.

In the mid-1980s, Columbia was faced with the first major trademark infringement—of what would be many more in the years to come. It had developed the Bugaboo Parka in 1986, a ski jacket named after a mountain range in British Columbia that could be transformed into three or four different jackets thanks to an improved interchangeable design feature. The parka quickly became Columbia’s best-selling item—and prompted a flood of knock-offs.[43] Since then, the company has put an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and money into fighting counterfeits. On Columbia’s website, an extra section is dedicated to this topic, including a long list of suspicious websites.

Gert stepped down as president and CEO of Columbia in 1988 after eighteen years at the helm of the company. She still serves as chairman of the Board of Directors, a position she has held since 1983, and until recently traveled widely for publicity purposes. Tim continues to lead Columbia successfully as president and CEO today. [44] The company has become truly global and operates in four geographic regions: the U.S.; Latin America and Asia Pacific; Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Canada, selling its products in approximately one hundred countries around the world.[45] In an industry whose sales of outdoor products totaled roughly $33 billion by the mid ‘00s, the market for outdoor apparel and footwear remains highly competitive.[46] Columbia faces significant competition from companies such as industry giant Nike, Timberland, and North Face, as well as from private labels of large wholesale customers. Since the late 1990s, Columbia has branched out in an effort to reach an even broader demographic and acquired shoe-, outer- and sportswear companies Sorel, Mountain Hardwear, Montrail, and Pacific Trail. It launched its online retail site on August 12, 2009. Today, there are more than four thousand full-time employees working at the company. And the company whose byline is “Trying Stuff Since 1938” continues to bring groundbreaking innovations in apparel, footwear, accessories, and equipment to the outdoor market, from heated boots to cooling shirts.

Among the many awards Gert has received in her lifetime are the Small Business Administration’s Outstanding Business Person Award for Oregon (1977), the Northwest Master Entrepreneur award from Inc. Magazine (1992), Portland’s prestigious First Citizen Award (2005), and the Women of Achievement Award from the Oregon Commission for Women (2009). She has been named a Top 50 Woman Business Owner by Working Woman Magazine (1993-96) and Oregon Entrepreneur of the Year by the Oregon Enterprise Forum (1994). She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Portland in 1997. In 2003, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. And more recently, she received the Oregon Business Association’s 2010 Statesman of the Year award.

Family Life and Personality

The Lamfrom family, and Gert in particular, almost immediately dismissed their German, and Jewish, identity upon arrival in the United States. From speaking only English at home to Gert’s conversion and marriage to an Irish-Catholic, her religious and cultural affiliations seem to have never been a strong and determining part of her life and personality. In her autobiography, Gert writes of her time at a Catholic school in Germany and, later, about her completion of Catholic classes before her marriage to Neal. She sent all three daughters to Catholic schools. As far as her ties to Germany are concerned, she told reporters in response to their remark that she must be happy to be home when she returned to Augsburg for the first time six decades after having been forced into exile, “I felt nothing…Don’t you remember history? The last time I was here, people were trying to kill my family.”[47]

Once she had stepped down as president and CEO at Columbia in 1988, leaving the day-to-day business management behind, Gert had more time for her philanthropic efforts. She became involved with Special Olympics when Team USA approached her about outfitting them for the World Games in 1995. “The more I learned about this inspiring organization, the more I knew that Columbia should play a small part in its success,” she says.[48] Through many countries and many years, Columbia and Gert have continued their support of Special Olympics, outfitting athletes and supporters in Columbia gear. (This is in addition to Columbia being the official supplier to Eco-Challenge, the X Games, CBS Sports, America3, and NBC Sports in such events as the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games in 1994, the Sydney Summer Olympic Games in 2000, and the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in 2002.[49]) She also donates the royalties from her autobiography One Tough Mother to Special Olympics and CASA for Children.

Together with Tim and Mary Boyle, Gert endowed the Hildegard Lamfrom Chair in Basic Science in association with the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University with $2.5 million in 2010.[50] The endowment honors Gert’s sister Hildegard, who was fifteen years old when the family escaped from Germany and became a successful scientist in the United States. Upon her death in 1984 from a brain tumor, Hildegard was recognized by the Oregon Health and Science University as “one of the 20th century's most influential and accomplished women in the emerging field of molecular biology during an exceptional career spanning four decades.”[51]

Gert is a Go Red ambassador, supporting efforts of the American Heart Association to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease in women.

With her characteristically humorous approach, Gert notes that “[w]hile Columbia’s success has changed my bank account, and has allowed me to support a variety of philanthropies, it hasn’t changed who I am. That comes as a surprise to some people. I have lost count of the number of times someone comes up to me in a grocery store and asks what I’m doing shopping in a grocery store, evidently assuming that I would have someone do that for me. I respond by saying, ‘I’m shopping because I like to eat’.”[52]

The most recent news about Gert Boyle is of a more serious nature, however. In November 2010, Gert Boyle was a victim of a violent crime in her West Linn, Oregon home. She was robbed, held at gun point, and injured in the attack but managed to escape. With the image of the “tough mother” so thoroughly engrained in the public perception of Gert Boyle, it is perhaps not surprising that the media portrayed her as a hero and praised her for her quick ability to “outwit [the] armed robber.”[53] In truth, the attack was a terrifying event for the eighty-six-year-old woman which in the years since has caused her to scale back her involvement at Columbia and has "nearly eliminated personal appearances, travel, public speaking engagements, and…public relations events,” as she describes in a victim impact statement. “These events, even if occurring within a relatively short time frame, have forever changed my life. Although I will ‘get on with it,’ I will do so after losing my home, my routines, my independence, my professional accessibility, my dignity, and my pride in control of my own destiny.”[54]

Conclusion

Every immigrant experience is different; just as every person is different and reacts to situations in unique ways. Gert considered herself an American from the first weeks of her life in Portland and rejected her German cultural ties. She was a success in her life, not because she built on the connections she held with her old life, but because she completely broke away from anything that was expected of her in order to succeed. As a widowed mother with no tangible business experience, Gert Boyle should have been a footnote at the end of Columbia Sportswear’s abbreviated lifespan, but instead took a small company that barely turned a profit and grew it into an international, billion dollar enterprise. In 2011, Columbia’s net sales reached a record $1.694 billion, with a net income of $103.5 million.[55] Asked about the most enjoyable part of Columbia’s success, however, Gert says “It’s not the money. Money doesn’t make you happy, it just allows you to suffer in comfort. It’s the recognition. There weren’t any women running sportswear companies when I started and it’s nice to be recognized for doing this.”[56] This immigrant entrepreneur is an unqualified success, but not because of her own talents alone. Gert Boyle also learned the lessons and skills that she would use throughout her life from her parents, her husband, her rivals, and her compatriots. Without those around her, and perhaps more than a pinch of luck, Columbia may never have been able to prosper, even with the toughest mother at the helm.

Notes

[1] Gert Boyle and Kerry Tymchuk, One Tough Mother: Taking Charge in Life, Business, and Apple Pies (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007).

[2] See “Lammfromm und trotzdem tough,” an article on the blog of the Jewish Historical Society Augsburg (accessed August 19, 2012), and the website of the custom-tailored shirt maker Oelkrug Masshemden (accessed August 19, 2012).

[3] Todd Schwartz, “Inventing Ma,” The University of Portland Magazine, summer 2005  (accessed August 20, 2012).

[4] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 35.

[5] Ibid., 29. Unless otherwise stated, all 2010 USD values are calculated by using MeasuringWorth (accessed August 13, 2012).

[6] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 36.

[7] Ibid., 39.

[8] Ibid., 24-25.

[9] Ibid., 40.

[10] Ibid., 43-44.

[11] “Nuptials Read in Portland,” Tucson Daily Citizen, August 30, 1948, 16.

[12] Tim would go on to join Columbia Sportswear Company; Kathy today is an artist, living and working in Sisters, OR (http://www.kathydeggendorfer.com/); and Sarah co-owns Moonstruck Chocolate Company in Portland, OR (http://www.moonstruckchocolate.com/). She has also served on Columbia’s Board of Directors since 1988 and held various other positions at the company, including Director of Retail Stores, from 1979 to 1998.

[13] David Vinjamuri, Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2008), 127-8.

[14] Ibid., 129. The value in 2010 USD is roughly $2,810,000.

[15] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 61.

[16] Interview with Tim Boyle by Eve Tahmincioglu, “The Reality Classroom,” New York Times, January 18, 2004.

[17] As told on OBA Statesman of the Year 2010 award video (accessed August 21, 2012).

[18] Tahmincioglu, “The Reality Classroom.”

[19] As quoted in Schwartz, “Inventing Ma.”

[20] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 72-73. The 2010 USD value would roughly equal $7,540.

[21] Ibid., 57.

[22] A “high-level endorsement” also came from Presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter, who were spotted wearing Columbia fishing vests. “Gert Boyle has a Vested Interest in George Bush’s Fishing Fortunes,” People, September 18, 1989.

[23] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 58.

[24] Ibid., 46-47.

[25]Athletic and Outdoor Industry,” Portland Economic Development Strategy (accessed July 2, 2012).

[27] For an in-depth discussion, see Joseph Cortright, “The Athletic and Outdoor Industry Cluster: A White Paper,” http://pdxeconomicdevelopment.com/docs/activewear/Athletic-Outdoor-Cluster-Analysis.pdf (accessed August 23, 2012).

[29] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 77-78.

[30] Ibid., 81.

[31] “Harold Hirsch, 82; Started White Stag, Sportswear Concern,” New York Times, July 8, 1990, http://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/08/obituaries/harold-hirsch-82-started-white-stag-sportswear-concern.html (accessed August 23, 2012).

[32] Vinjamuri, 132-3.

[33] Ibid., 135.

[34] G. Anders, “When Mom Is Chairwoman and Son Is CEO, Tension Reigns,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2005.

[35] Stephanie Clifford, “How I Did It: Gert Boyle, Chairman, Columbia Sportswear,” Inc. Magazine (April 2006).

[36] United States Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011, http://investor.columbia.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=1193125-12-85007 (accessed August 23, 2012).

[37] “Columbia Sportswear Going Public,” The Seattle Times, March 22, 1998.

[38] Andrew Kramer, “Columbia Rides High on Economy Riding Low,” Santa Fe New Mexican, December 16, 2002. The 2010 USD equivalent is roughly $416 million and $960 million, respectively.

[39] Stephanie Gruner, Our Company, Ourselves,” Inc. Magazine (April 1998).

[40] Rebecca Flass, “Columbia Sportswear Pushes Some More Buttons: Gert Boyle Again a Fixture of Irreverent $10 Mil. BPN Campaign,” AdWeek 52.5 (September 23, 2002).

[41] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 99.

[42] A selection of heritage videos can be viewed on Columbia’s website (accessed August 21, 2012).

[43] Michael Selz, “Columbia Sportswear Tackles Tidal Wave of Copycats,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 1993.

[44] He was ranked #891 on the Forbes list of The World’s Billionaires in 2007, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion, (accessed August 19, 2012).

[46] Outdoor Industry Association, “State of the Industry Report 2006” (accessed August 23, 2012).

[47] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 31.

[48] Ibid., 162.

[49]Columbia Milestones,” Columbia Sportswear Company (accessed July 3, 2012).

[50]OHSU Extra: Celebrating the Power of Philanthropy,” (accessed August 22, 2012).

[51]Hildegard Lamfrom, Ph.D.,” (accessed August 20, 2012).

[52] Boyle and Tymchuk, One Tough Mother, 166.

[53] Rick Bella, “Gert Boyle, the ‘One Tough Mother’ of Columbia Sportswear, outwits armed robber,” OregonLive, November 11, 2010 (accessed June 25, 2012).

[54] Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for the County of Clackamas, “Initial Victim Impact Statement,” March 25, 2011, (accessed July 10, 2012).

[56] As quoted in Vinjamuri, 139.

 

Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Gertrude Boyle." (2014) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved April 19, 2014, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=128

Chicago Style

Accettola, Anna. "Gertrude Boyle." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 5, edited by R. Daniel Wadhwani. German Historical Institute. Last modified July 25, 2013. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=128

MLA Style

"Gertrude Boyle," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2014, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 19 Apr 2014 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=128>

Gertrude “Gert” Boyle, ca. 1992

  • Gert and Neal Boyle as newlyweds, ca. 1948
  • Gert Boyle pictured in a greeting card reading “Greetings from the Gang”
  • Gert Boyle, from a Columbia Sportswear ad, 1993
  • Augsburger Kammgarnspinnerei (worsted yarn spinning mill), 1913
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