Lands’ End was one of the first companies to begin offering a toll-free number, and in 1980 the service moved in-house. Manning a total of nine phones, a team of 23 customer sales representatives was trained to take calls 24/7. Always ready to embrace technology in order to provide the best possible customer experience, in 1982 our sales team entered the computer age, beginning to enter customer orders online.
In 1984, Lands’ End founder Gary Comer wrote a piece for our summer catalog describing the guiding principles behind his rapidly growing company. These principles focused on product quality, customer service, and the way we treat people‚ our customers, employees, and vendors.
One of those principles was his unwavering belief that serving our customers took precedence over everything else. And it was in that spirit that our Lands’ End crew pitched in to service our customers Thanksgiving weekend 1985. It was our busiest weekend of the year, and a big snowstorm had hit Dodgeville and the surrounding area. Two feet of snow whipped by 40-knot winds turned into four and five-foot drifts. Of the 300 people scheduled, only 80 could make it in. Some of our customer sales reps were on the phones for 20 hours at a crack – even sleeping here to get the job done!
We’re still committed to taking care of our customers, regardless of what Mother Nature has in store for us. Each year, in preparation for our peak holiday season, individuals from all areas of the company are trained to help out in our contact and distribution centers. So whenever the volume of incoming orders or outgoing packages warrants an extra hand or two, everyone is ready step in to provide our customers with the level of service they have come to expect from us.
Lands’ End makes the move to its new home on “Lands’ End Lane.” The catalog business continued to grow by leaps and bounds, and the phone center was now answering calls 24 hours a day. In order to take on more control of the quality of the clothes it sold, Lands’ End began to hire employees who specialized in fabric and the manufacturing of clothing. In addition to its new facilities in Dodgeville, Lands’ End opened its first Outlet Store, located on Elston Avenue in Chicago – just one block from its original location.
Lands’ End began work on a 40,000-square-foot addition to its warehouse in Wisconsin. In addition, we broke ground on a plant in West Union Iowa that would manufacture our own line of soft luggage. Lands’ End also began a national advertising campaign that focused on our business philosophy and reputation for quality, value and service. The campaign introduced the phrase “direct merchant” to illustrate our approach to business.
Lands’ End moved into its new 126,000-square-foot warehouse and began unloading 8,000 boxes of products so the company’s new automated sorting system could be made operational. Mail order shopping was sweeping the nation and Lands’ End was taking off. To meet Americans’ growing demand for luxury brands, Lands’ End introduced a line of clothing called Charter Club, featuring styles made from Italian silks and other fine fabrics.
Lands’ end becomes a registered U.S. trademark. Due to demand for goods, catalogs were now sent out on a monthly basis, versus a seasonal basis. In addition, Gary wrote a piece for the summer catalog that he called, “The 8 Principles of Doing Business.” These principles focused on product quality, customer service and the way we treat people – our customer, employees and vendors.
Lands’ End goes public, with stock listed on NASDAQ. Lands’ End’s fancier line of clothing, Charter Club, is discontinued despite its profitability. Gary explained that this decision was made in an effort to maintain the company’s culture and focus on traditional, no-nonsense clothes.
Lands’ End airs its first TV commercial during a rugby match on ESPN. Automated hemming operation handles up to 6,000 pants a day! Lands’ End stock goes on the “big board” – The New York Stock Exchange.
Lands’ End breaks grounds for 10,000 square foot phone center in Cross Plains, Wisconsin. The Christmas catalog reaches a record 220 pages.
Gary Comer dedicates an 80,000 square foot activity center to the employees. Comer personally donated $8 million to pay for the construction of the facility.