For Joel Myers, It All Started With Snowy Philadelphia Nights: AccuWeather Celebrates 50th Anniversary
For the seven year-old boy who stayed up all night to just watch the snow fall on the city streets through the windows of his Philadelphia home, the dream was to predict the weather.
That boy was Joel Myers, founder and president of Accuweather, a local weather forecasting service that is now one of the world's largest media companies. The company celebrates its 50th anniversary this week.
Myers says he always had a fascination with weather, especially after his grandmother gave him a diary so he could keep a record of weather conditions. Myers says he always had an entrepreneurial spirit inside him.
"I was a second year grad student [at Penn State] with a gas company -- to provide them with weather forecasts," Myers says. "People needed natural gas for heating, but in the winter, you had to know what the weather was going to be ahead of time. I was paid $50 a month for three months, so at that point, Accuweather had $150."
After that winter, Myers began looking for more clients, including ski resorts and plowing companies throughout the northeastern United States.
"My goal was to have 100 paying customers," Myers said. "I ended up making 25,000 in calls, but I got the 100."
When he received his doctorate in 1971, Myers began teaching at Penn State in the summer and forecasting in the winter, as he originally envisioned his fledgling company as a cold weather entity.
Myers says the thing that differentiates Accuweather from other weather forecasters is that Accuweather brings in more data from all over the world and it provides the most up to date weather the fastest.
"We have 4 billion requests a day in here," Myers says. "We answer each one within three tenths of a second."
Accuweather currently holds 40 patents, and forecasts the weather in 48 languages. Myers also says Accuweather surpasses all other weather forecast providers in a mobile website capacity. The company serves more than 200 television stations, 650 radio stations, 600 newspapers and 72,000 websites.
Myers says Accuweather, along with Penn State, provides one of the biggest boosts to the State College economy. He says that it not only brings in a lot of money because of its size, but people from all over the world spend their money in State College on the services Accuweather provides.
Myers also says that even though Accuweather could have moved anywhere after it began to grow, he stayed in State College because he likes the area.
"This type of company is usually founded in Silicon Valley," Myers said. "But its a great area. It's a great place to raise children."
Myers is the father of Dan Myers, president of Lazerpro Digital Media Group, which owns StateCollege.com.