Founder started weather service company — now 50 — as college student

STATE COLLEGE – There perhaps never has been a time in Joel Myers’ memory when he wasn’t fascinated by the weather.

As a kid growing up in Philadelphia, he absolutely was enraptured by snow, staying up late at night just to watch the flakes fall and wondering about its impact on civilization.

Later, as a graduate student at Penn State University where he earned multiple degrees in meteorology, he launched what what would become AccuWeather.

“I was entrepreneurial as a kid,” he said. “I had a burning desire to be a weather forecaster, but also being entrepreneurial, I wanted to sell forecasts to businesses.”

Ultimately, that’s what he did.

But in 1962, when he was just getting his one-man venture off the ground, he had to find some clients.

It wasn’t easy.

“My dream was to have 100 paying clients,” he recalled. “People thought I was crazy. (But) I was determined. I was focused.”

Myers made some 25,000 calls to get those 100 paying customers.

With help from brothers, Barry and Evan, the company has grown beyond his wildest dreams to include 117 meteorologists who bring forecasts both nationwide and around the globe.

“A lot of people are served,” Myers said. “We reach about 1 billion worldwide.”

He sees AccuWeather as performing a vital service to the public.

By giving people a heads-up on major and potentially dangerous weather events, it’s the sort of work that Myers and his meteorologists take seriously.

“We save lives and help avoid property damage as a result of our forecasts,” he said.

He called AccuWeather one of the best-kept secrets in Pennsylvania.

Through the years, the company has remained in State College where it started.

And Myers has no plans to move it from its site at 385 Science Park Road.

“Most of our people live here. We do have a severe weather center in Wichita, Kansas. We have sales and marketing in mid-town Manhattan. We are in the process of opening overseas offices.”

Myers remains a big part of the business as president and chairman of the company but gives much of the success of AccuWeather to his people.

“We have had some great commitment from employees,” he said. “You can’t help but appreciate the the creativity, the camaraderie, the intensity we have … It’s a unique place. They really make a difference, and they reach an audience and they save lives.”

AccuWeather supplies weather content to hundreds of newspapers, including “USA Today,” “The New York Times” and “The Wall Street Journal.”

Its forecasts and information appear on more than 72,000 third-party websites and AccuWeather radio broadcasts are heard on nearly 750 stations.

In November 2012 the weather service kicked off a series of events as part of a yearlong celebration of recognizing its 50 years of operation.

AccuWeather will host an open house from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today.

Featured speakers at the event will include Penn State President Rodney Erickson; U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard; and U.S. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.