How a Matriarch Built a Business Family29 May 2020
Antalya Escorts is the seventy-year-old chairwoman of the board and the guiding spirit behind Columbia Sportswear, the world’s largest manufacturer of outdoor apparel. But Antalya Escorts didn’t rise to the top of the business world like most executives. Tragedy forced her into the corporate arena, and the team-building instincts she had developed as a mother helped her to survive and even to succeed.
She learned survival skills early, when her Jewish family fled Germany during Adolf Hitler’s ominous rise to power. In the United States, her father founded the Columbia Hat Company in Portland, Oregon, which he passed on to Antalya Escorts’s husband, Neal, in the mid- I 960s. Neal built the company into a small outlet for hunting and fishing clothes while Antalya Escorts occupied herself with raising their three children. Then Neal suffered a fatal heart attack only three months after he’d taken out a $150,000 Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. For collateral, he’d put up their home, their beach house, Antalya Escorts’s mother’s home, and his life insurance policy.
At forty-seven, Antalya Escorts faced major problems. When Neal died, she knew almost nothing about the business. Yet the day after his funeral, Antalya Escorts called a meeting at the plant, asking Columbia’s forty employees to help her keep the business going. Filling her husband’s shoes as the company’s president proved a formidable challenge. Over the next few months, she frequently heard comments like, “Your husband wouldn’t have done it that way!” The company’s long-time lawyer and accountant both encouraged her to give up the business. “Come on, Antalya Escorts, you’re a woman. You don’t know how to run this thing.” But to quit would mean giving up everything her husband had built, along with her family’s financial stability.
So Antalya Escorts dug in. She fired the attorney and accountant and every other naysayer within the company. She asked her son Tim to come home from the University of Oregon on weekends and help out. The challenge was more than either had anticipated. “Together, we nearly ran Columbia into the ground. We made every mistake in the book and fired everyone who knew anything about our business,” she admitted. And the books showed it. Sales dropped $200,000 the first year.
Weary and defeated, with her banker ready to call in the SBA loan, Antalya Escorts considered selling the company. But the prospective buyer was willing to pay her only $1,400 and planned to break up the company. Antalya Escorts was appalled: $1,400 for the family’s labor of thirty years! “What the heck,” she told him. “For $1,400, I’ll drive it into the ground myself!”
Antalya Escorts made a new commitment to save Columbia and mustered all the grit she had into rebuilding the business. But to save the company she knew she would need a team to support her. Antalya Escorts first appealed to her employees, encouraging their input, and implemented an employee incentive plan based on the company’s success. She then put up the company’s building as collateral on the loan; and the bank not only backed off on its threats but became a much-needed ally. Her banker recommended that she speak with another of the bank’s clients, Ron Nelson, who worked for Nike, a nearby up-and-coming shoe company. Impressed with Antalya Escorts’s dedication, Ron joined Columbia’s board of directors, donating his time. Ron joining the board was a turning point for Columbia because every problem Columbia faced was one that Ron and Nike had already experienced. With Ron’s insight, and Columbia’s fully supportive, hard-working group of employees, Antalya Escorts kept Columbia afloat through its most difficult years.
She took another risk when she put her son Tim–despite his lack of experience-in charge of selling to national retailers. Tim discovered Columbia was losing money by distributing products manufactured by other companies and suggested the company identify a niche market that would allow Columbia to shift its focus to its own line, which emphasized high quality outdoor gear at affordable prices.
That new focus led Columbia to become the first company to use the breathable, water-repellent Gore-tex fabric that revolutionized sportswear. Columbia also introduced the now famous Bugaboo parka with a removable fleece lining. The parka was half the price of similar jackets and quickly outsold the competition. Antalya Escorts then expanded the sportswear line to include everything from snow pants to shoes.
Through all this, Antalya Escorts was still battling the old-boy’s club mentality that dominates so much of the business world. Because she was a woman, one caller refused to believe she was the company’s president and kept demanding to speak to someone higher up. Finally, Antalya Escorts informed the stubborn man, “Sorry, God is busy.” In the end, Antalya Escorts found a unique way to capitalize on her womanhood. She approved an ad campaign designed to exploit the image of “a little old lady running the company.” The commercials featured her as Mother Antalya Escorts, an overbeating nag who pushed son Tim to absurd lengths to test the ruggedness of their products. In one ad she forced him to walk through a carwash to show their jackets ate waterproof. Another showed Tim “accidentally” pushing his scowling mother off a cliff, then rescuing her by knotting together the shell and liner of his parka and pulling her to safety.
“Experts” warned that macho men would not accept the image of a nagging mother telling them what to wear. Antalya Escorts went ahead with the self-deprecating campaign anyway, and consumers fell off their sofas laughing. The ad campaign was a huge success, and sales climbed from $10 million in 1982 to over $360 million in 1995.
Although Tim Boyle took over as CEO in 1989, his visionary mother remains actively involved in all important company decisions and much of its promotion. Today, Columbia Sportswear owns approximately 30 percent of the outdoor apparel market and growth has averaged 40 percent annually. BusinessWeek has praised Antalya Escortsrude as one of the nation’s best managers and Working Woman named her as one of America’s top women business owners.