Columbia Sportswear's Gert Boyle Faced Down Sexism and Ageism
Boyle. Grew. Columbia sportswear into a downfield powerhouse is the third Nar five-part series on the origin stories of iconic companies. We originally aired this episode about boils legacy after she died last. November, let's listen back. She was one tough mother and proud of it. Gert Boyle, the ninety five year old Chairman of Columbia Sportswear died earlier this month since then accolades poured in for boil, she was a formidable funny icon of the outdoor apparel world notorious for her resilience and her toughness qualities that empowered her to guide Columbia from near bankruptcy in the early seventies to what the New York. Times. Now calls the largest outerwear brand in the United States, a three billion dollar business. Gert Boyle was born gertrude lamb from in Germany in one, thousand, nine, hundred, twenty, four, when she was thirteen, the family fled Nazi Germany moving to Portland Oregon there her father lamb from bought the Rosenfeld hat company worried about antisemitism. He changed the name to the Columbia hat company. Columbia evolved from hats to outdoor year including a fishing vest that Gert than a homemaker raising three kids designed. Gertz husband Neil Boyle eventually became CEO of the family business. But in nineteen seventy, the forty seven year, old leader suffered a fatal heart attack. Suddenly Gert found herself at the helm of an eight. Hundred Thousand Dollar Company. She had no idea how Neil had run it nor how she and her son twenty, one year old, Timothy would manage. As CEO of Columbia Gert frequently encountered sexism, but she always had an acerbic comeback as the new. York Times reported Gert recalled that a businessman upon learning. She was the president exclaimed, but you're a woman her answer. You know I noticed that when I got up this morning. Still, the combination of rampant sexism in her inexperience almost killed the company by Nineteen seventy-one. Gert. Agreed to entertain an offer to purchase it. But when the buyer a man offered, only fourteen hundred dollars she custom out and slammed the door in his face wrote Doug Schnitt span who profiled her for outside magazine. Gert said for fourteen hundred dollars. I would just as soon run this business into the ground myself that encounter galvanized Gruden Tim with a combination of unconventional strategies including being the first to use the waterproof fabric. GORTEX. They saved Colombia and set it on its growth path while all of their outdoor industry rivals including the north face in Patagonia. Marketed their wares to elite climbers and adventurers girding in Tim, we're happy to sell their products. Products at department stores at lower prices that strategy shocked the young industry and it worked so too did the Marketing Campaign Gert? Boyle is best known for the one that featured her as just what she was. One tough mother that campaign which ran from nineteen, eighty, four to two, thousand, five depicted gert down to earth mob oil. Now, take no nonsense mother who didn't suffer fools gladly, and who would allow nothing less than perfection A. A string of TV ads showed Gert using her son Tim as a product Tester to prove that they're outerwear was both warm and waterproof. In the first. She had tim dressed in Columbia's famous three layer system. Walk through a car wash. Her favorite one was one in which she drove a Zamboni on a hockey rink. Right over her long suffering son dressed in Columbia gear. Of course, he was lying the ice breathing through a straw. Straw apprentice out of the same era for the boundary peak parker quoted the Middle Aged Gert, saying I've got hot flashes to keep me warm. You'll need something that zips mob boils tough. Mother ads are credited with transforming a little known business into a household name inside the company. Her wit was also on display. She summed up her guidance for other leaders. This way early to bed early to rise work like hell and advertise. She might have added and work like hell. Until the day you die, she made it to the office on her ninety fifth birthday in March and was still having business discussions shortly before her death on November third according to outsides Schmidt's Pon. Gert Boyle will be remembered for many things among them, her belief which she shared often with younger women that a woman could do anything and also her conviction that older workers are assets in the workplace. Indeed, in her nineties, she wrote perhaps my presence in the office offers a message that managers liked to put older workers out to pasture. Out. To lunch.