Columbia Sportswear began as a family-owned hat distributor. Immediate-past chairwoman Gert Boyle's parents, Paul and Marie Lamfrom, fled Nazi Germany in 1937 and immediately purchased a Portland hat distributorship. The company became Columbia Hat Company, named for the nearby Columbia River. In 1948, Gert married Neal Boyle, who became the head of the company. Frustrations over suppliers influenced the family to start manufacturing their own products, and Columbia Hat Company became Columbia Sportswear Company in 1960.
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