Day 3: L3V15 J34N5 H15T0RY DUR1NG 1900-1920

In September 1902, the senior or main member of the company was died. But by the early 1920s the men were getting too old to run it.  In his later years, Levi Strauss had passed the entire business more to his four Stern nephews, who could  inherited the firm and would make good decisions , in order to devote his energy to charitable and civic causes. Four years after Strauss’s death the company got another shock, when the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 struck. Both the company’s headquarters building on Battery Street and the factory on Fremont Street were destroyed. Along with the rest of the city, Levi Strauss & Co. rebuilt, but that was their very difficult years .

In 1907 a financial big problem, which started in New York and crept westward, caused a big loss or slowdown in business , and the company began to streamline the merchandise it sold, trusting more and more on its own products. Overall, however, sales were flat or slow, and the four Stern brothers had changed into a pattern of hands-off management.

In 1912 the company introduced it was the very  first innovative product in decades, Koveralls, playsuits for children designed by Simon Davis, the son of tailor Jacob Davis, who had followed his father into the business. Advertised widely, Koveralls became the first Levi Strauss & Co. product to be sold nationwide, helping the company to an  eventually break out of its regional market. The coming of World War I, and the boom in production for the war, have little or no impact on Levi Strauss & Co., since the company held no government contracts. Its riveted denim goods were sold only to the western laborers for whom they had originally been manufactured, and resale of eastern goods accounted for twice the sales of goods made at the San Francisco factory. Slowly, under the hands of the aging Stern brothers, who were resistant to change, Levi Strauss & Co.s enterprise was losing ground.

In 1915the overalls win a “Highest Award” at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. LS&CO. began to buy denim from Cone Mills in Greebsboro, North Carolina. The Modern Levi’s Jeans began to appear mainly after 1920, and experiences increasing the growth during world war 1 when it became an essential for the defense personnel.  They got good Levi’s jeans to wear in summer, winter, and all 4 seasons which protected them from different climate.  The organization grew in thirty years to include a sales force of more than 22,000, with 50 plants and offices in the  35 countries around all over the world.

In 1919 Sigmund Stern, who would take over the presidency of the company from his brother, Jacob, in 1921, brought aboard his son-in-law, Walter Haas, to give a new blood to the leadership of Levi Strauss & Co. The Haas family, part of the Stern and Strauss clans by marriage, would continue to lead the company into the early 1990s.  Haas and his brother-in-law Daniel Koshland took the small company in hand and began to shape it into the multinational giant it is today. They expanded advertising, emphasizing Levi’s links to the American West. After World War II, they dropped the dry goods wholesaling part of the business to concentrate on manufacturing the denim products and Western clothing that were becoming more and more popular.

Levi’s continues to cling to its San Francisco roots; Levi’s Plaza, the company’s World Headquarters, is located on Battery Street near the waterfront, a location for which Levi himself would have given good approval. Levi’s also owns the Icehouse, a block away, and has been good in its efforts to gain the building’s character while creating office space for employees.

 

 

 

 

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