About Columbia Columbia Sportswear began as a small family-owned hat distributor. Present chairwoman Gert Boyle's parents Paul and Marie Lamfrom fled Germany in 1937 and immediately bought a Portland hat distributorship. They became the 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. Columbia Hat Company became Columbia Sportswear Company in 1960. Columbia's jackets featured waterproof fabric that was also breathable. Additionally new jackets featured interchangeable shells and liners. Whatever sportswear you are looking for Columbia is a brand you can trust for reliability and comfortability.