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'Tough Mom': how Columbia's 86-year-old founder prevented her kidnapping


Source: Forbes

The events in the life of the long-term head of Columbia Geert Boyle would be enough for an epic novel. Forced emigration from Nazi Germany, poverty in the early years in America, saving the future sportswear giant from bankruptcy. The woman was nicknamed "tough mother". The story with the attempted kidnapping only confirmed this image, says Forbes.

Screenshot: KGW News / YouTube

In 2010, an event took place that divided the life of the chairman of the board of directors of the sports brand Columbia into before and after. When 86-year-old Gert Boyle approached her home in the suburbs of Portland and saw a stranger in the garden, she immediately knew that something was wrong. A man dressed all in black tried to hand her a fruit basket. When Boyle refused to accept her, he obtained a copy of her autobiography, Cool Mom. Success in Life, Business, and Apple Pies ”(One Tough Mother: Success in Life, Business, and Apple Pies) and asked the woman to sign it. After she refused again, he pulled out his pistol. The police later determined that it was a dummy.

Putting the pistol to the back of Boyle's head, the man pulled her inside. She realized that she needed to act quickly, and told the criminal that she needed to turn off the alarm system. But when the attacker allowed her to do this, Boyle did not turn off the alarm, but pressed the panic button.

After that, the offender demanded to give him jewelry and money. According to the case file, he pushed the woman to the floor, gagged her with a tie and tied her hands behind her back. When he brought Boyle into her room, he ordered her to undress and shouted, "I promise I will shoot you." It turned out that the attacker had underestimated Boyle. However, he was hardly the first to be so badly mistaken.

"Cool mother"

Gert Boyle passed away on November 3, 2019 in Portland at the age of 95. The kidnapping story was just one short chapter in her incredible life. Boyle was born into a Jewish family in Germany. In 1937, when she was only 13 years old, her family had to flee the country after someone wrote “Jews live here” on the wall of their house.

When Boyle and her parents arrived in Portland, they only had $ 20. Her father borrowed money and bought a small hat shop, Rosenfeld Hat Co., which he soon renamed Columbia.

Boyle attended the University of Arizona at Tucson and studied sociology. She never planned to connect her life with entrepreneurship. At one of the student parties in Tucson, she met Neil Boyle, who later became her husband.

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Nearly 16 years after she married Neil Boyle, her father died. Her husband took over the reins and ran the company for another 6 years. However, in 1970, at the age of 47, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Despite her lack of business experience, Boyle decided to take over the management of the company. Her son Tim, who was still studying at the university, helped her in this. At that time, Gert Boyle had no choice. Before his death, her husband took out a $ 150 loan from the US Small Business Administration, pledging their home, life insurance policies, vacation home and his mother's home as collateral. If they had not paid off the loan, they would have lost everything.

When Boyle and her son took over Columbia, they nearly went bankrupt. Sales dropped 25% that year to $ 600. The bank even advised them to sell the company. A potential buyer offered to buy it out for a measly $ 000. However, the entrepreneurs refused and decided to revive the family business.

Screenshot: KGW News / YouTube

It took some time. Columbia only became a leading sportswear brand in the 1980s. It was then that the legendary One Tough Mother campaign was launched, starring Boyle herself. In commercials, gray-haired Boyle has repeatedly tested Columbia clothes for strength in extreme conditions. In one of the videos, she even appeared in the form of a rocker, and on her arm flaunted a fake tattoo with the words "Born to Nag".

Boyle served as CEO of Columbia until 1988, when she handed over the reins to her son. Until her death, Boyle remained the chairman of the company's board of directors. Many people know her by sight from Colambia advertisements, which were broadcast in the USA and many other countries:

"I sincerely apologize"

About 7 minutes after Boyle pressed the panic button, the police rang at the door. The attacker told Boyle to open the door, but threatened to kill her if she told the police that he was inside. Disobeying him once again, Boyle ran to the front door and asked for help. The perpetrator then escaped, jumping off the balcony of the second floor of her house and hiding in the woods.

A few hours later, the attacker was detained in one of the McDonald's restaurants. It turned out to be a native of Honduras, Nestor Gabriel Caballero Gutierrez. Five days later, two of his accomplices were arrested to help him kidnap Boyle. The criminals were going to demand a ransom of $ 300. Jose Luis Arevalo provided the car, and Ramon Alberto Midse had to take Gutierrez and his victim away. According to NBC News, the accomplices would receive $ 000 and $ 20 for this, respectively.

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According to the case file, Gutierrez came up with a kidnapping plan because he was desperate for money to save his ad agency from bankruptcy. The Oregonian newspaper also reported that the bankrupt businessman had no previous convictions. According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, he was convicted of kidnapping, burglary and robbery. At the moment, Gutierrez continues to serve a sentence of 14,5 years in prison. Arevalo was convicted on similar charges and released after 6 years in prison. Midse continues to serve his sentence for kidnapping, burglary and robbery.

“I wish it was all a nightmare. However, this actually happened. I offer a thousand apologies. I'm sorry, ”wrote Gutierrez from prison. According to The Oregonian, he sent this letter to Boyle.

At first it seemed to everyone that Boyle got off with only a slight fright. Following the arrest of the offender, the West Lynn Police Chief reportedly came to Boyle's home to see how she was doing.

“Everything was fine until you showed up in this North Face jacket,” the stern Boyle replied to the intruder.

Screenshot: KGW News / YouTube

The joke became legendary, and Boyle confirmed her reputation as a "tough mom". However, Boyle later admitted that she had experienced a deep psychological trauma. In a statement read aloud during the trial of the three attackers, she noted that the North Face jacket joke was a kind of "defense mechanism."

She concluded by adding: “I will not be able to forget about that night. Nothing can bring me back to my usual old life. "

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