S&P 400 component
Russell 1000 Index component
|Headquarters||Washington County, Oregon (near Beaverton), |
Number of locations
|129 (December 2017)|
|Timothy Boyle (CEO and Acting Chairman)|
Thomas Cusick (CFO)
|Products||Outerwear and sportswear|
|Revenue||US$2.8 billion (2018)|
Number of employees
|8,900 (Dec 2019) |
It was founded in 1938 by Paul Lamfrom, the father of Gert Boyle. The company is headquartered in Cedar Mill, an unincorporated area in Washington County, Oregon, in the Portland metropolitan area near Beaverton.
Columbia's rapid sales growth was fueled by its jackets, which featured breathable waterproof fabric and interchangeable shells and liners.
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.
In 1970, Neal Boyle died following a heart attack. Gert and son Tim Boyle, then a University of Oregon senior, took over the operations of Columbia, rescuing it from bankruptcy. Gert Boyle served as company president from 1970 until 1988 and additionally became chairman of its board of directors in 1983. She remained chairman until her death in 2019. Tim Boyle succeeded his mother as Columbia's president and CEO in 1988 and continues to hold the position in 2019.
Columbia became a publicly traded company in 1998. It acquired footwear maker Sorel in 2000 and Mountain Hardwear in 2003. In 2006, Columbia acquired the Pacific Trail and Montrail brands, and in 2014 they acquired prAna.
In 2001, the company moved its headquarters from Portland to a site in an unincorporated part of Washington County, in the Cedar Mill area and just outside the Beaverton city limits. The site on NW Science Park Drive has a Portland mailing address, but is not in Portland. In 2007, City of Portland officials attempted to convince Columbia Sportswear to move back to Portland, but the company ultimately rejected the idea due to the increased corporate tax burden such a move would entail and decided to expand its existing headquarters instead.
On June 15, 2008, Columbia Sportswear announced a three-year sponsorship of the cycling team formerly known as Team High Road and before that T-Mobile and Team Telekom. The sponsorship began on July 5, 2008 with the start of the Tour de France. The team's name was "Team Columbia". The sponsorship included both the men's and women's teams, and ended at the end of 2010.
On August 4, 2010, Columbia Sportswear Company signed an agreement to acquire OutDry Technologies S.r.l., which owns the intellectual property and other assets comprising the OutDry brand and related business, via a cash purchase from Nextec S.r.l., based near Milan, Italy. The transaction was expected to close during the third quarter of 2010, subject to customary closing conditions, and is not expected to have a material effect on the company's 2010 operating results.
In March 2015, Bryan Timm was named president of the company, taking over that position from Tim Boyle, who remained CEO. In May 2017 it was announced Timm would step down and the duties of president would revert to Tim Boyle.
In October 2020, the company announced that alpaca wool would not longer be a part of their collections, to include their other brands PrAna, Mountain Hardwear and Sorel.
Columbia Sportswear distributes its products in more than 72 countries and 13,000 retailers. Columbia also operates its own chain of retail stores, including its flagship store located in downtown Portland, Oregon.
As of 2018, 40% of Columbia's business came from abroad.
Trade and tariffs
The clothing business in the US is still largely subject to what remains of the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act, passed in 1930. Since 2001, Columbia has paired its designers with teams of trade experts in a process the company calls "tariff engineering" in order to reach lower tariffs, taxes, or duties. For example, Columbia applies a very thin layer of fabric to the soles of its shoes since tariffs on fabric soles are lower than those on rubber soles; the fabric wears away within days. For similar reasons, jackets are waterproofed and filled with at least 10% down.
Columbia has operated in China since 2014 as Columbia Sportswear Commercial (Shanghai) Company as a joint venture with Swire Pacific Limited, reaching a total of 86 Chinese retail stores by 2017. In 2018, Columbia announced it would buy out Swire's remaining 40% stake by 2019.
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