Columbia CEO Tim Boyle: We're here because the U.S. was open, tolerant enough to let us in


Columbia Sportswear Company CEO Tim Boyle wrote to his employees to affirm the company's support and tolerance for all.

Columbia employees received this letter today from CEO Tim Boyle, about the brand's heritage and commitment to tolerance for all. The letter has also been shared with customers via the brand's LinkedIn page. We have copied it in its entirety below. If you'd like to share a message from your brand, or a personal opinion, please feel free to email us at with the subject line "Letter to the Editor."

Columbia Sportswear Company CEO Tim Boyle. // Photo courtesy of Columbia Sportswear.

Columbia Sportswear Company CEO Tim Boyle. // Photo courtesy of Columbia Sportswear.


To all Columbia Sportswear Company employees:

This message, like our company, has roots that reach back to 1938. That’s when Columbia Sportswear Company was founded — the year after my family fled Nazi Germany and my mother and grandparents settled safely in Portland, Oregon. Because they were able to come to the United States, they were able to start a small regional hat distributor and name it “Columbia.”

We are here because the United States was open and tolerant enough to let us in. Both our family and our business were encouraged to engage with the world. Our presence in America, coupled with the tremendous growth of Columbia Sportswear Company and the thousands of jobs created in Oregon and across the world, are direct rewards of global engagement that are often lost in political debates on all sides of the political aisle. You, our colleagues around the world, are a key part of that story.

I start with that basic history because political rhetoric and news reports in the U.S. could easily lead our tremendous group of global employees, or many of our international customers, to question America’s commitment to tolerance, diversity and fairness, along with our commitment to engagement across cultures.

At Columbia Sportswear Company, we are deeply committed to those principles. They are what brought us to Oregon and carried us to where we are today. It should not be necessary in 2017 to say that we at Columbia do not judge people based on their religious beliefs, nor should it be controversial for us to say it. But in today’s political environment, I am taking a moment to restate that fundamental view. We have faced a religious test in the past and will never support one.

Perhaps more than most companies, we understand the challenges of providing security for individuals in this country and around the world. We have long partnered successfully with the U.S. Government on anti-terrorism programs to ensure that our supply chain is secure. Furthermore, in 2015, we were extremely proud to have had the opportunity to assist the families of three heroes who foiled a terrorist attack in Europe. Our experiences tell us that such tremendous challenges require us to work together, across parties and all differences. We know what is possible when people care and work together.

In a global company, most of us are used to working with people who may see the world a little differently than we do. In fact, one of the most enjoyable parts of working at a global company like Columbia Sportswear Company is that we get to work with individuals from over 100 countries who have unique perspectives, different religious beliefs and rich ethnic backgrounds. Any of our team members can easily end up working closely with a colleague or customer many time zones away, bridging cultural and language differences to find solutions to reach a common goal. This is how we grow as individuals and make progress together. It is how we learn that we, as humans, have far more similarities than differences, and that whatever differences we may have are not to be feared but celebrated.

That approach seems to be in short supply in today’s politics. When it comes to fundamental debates about freedom, tolerance and security, I expect people of all parties in government to work across their differences and help us move forward together. People of good faith in different parties and different branches of government ought to be able to do this, while at the same time, protecting all of the fundamental principles that brought us here, including freedom of belief, expression and due process. I, alongside my family and colleagues, will be encouraging them to do so.


Tim Boyle
Chief Executive Officer
Columbia Sportswear Company


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