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Jim's Formal Wear Company History
'Quality Merchandise and Service at a Fair Price'
...was the foundation on which Jim Davis built his business. He was the owner and operator of Jim's Mens and Boys store, a successful men's apparel shop established by his father. The store was located in the small town of Trenton, Illinois, 35 miles from downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Jim's outstanding reputation in this rural community was based on his commitment to serve his customers with the finest merchandise available.
Only Happy Customers Are Acceptable
Jim offered tuxedos for rental through a wholesale formalwear supplier in nearby St. Louis. Unfortunately, the quality and service he received from this company did not meet his expectations. More importantly, it did not meet the expectations of his customers. On one occasion, a long-time customer was so dissatisfied with the quality of a tuxedo that he quit shopping at Jim's Mens and Boys for any of his clothing needs. These situations were frustrating to Jim. His store's reputation, something for which he had worked long and hard to build up, was suffering. Finally, he decided to do something about it.
An Idea Gives Birth to a Company
Prior to owning his own men's store, Jim traveled Southern Illinois and Missouri as a manufacturer's representative. His character, honesty, and salesmanship earned him many friends in the menswear business. He called these old friends and soon learned that they, too, were frustrated with their formalwear supplier. Jim asked for their support if he would provide quality tuxedos and service at a fair price. Everyone said they would back him in his new venture!
Jim's Formal Wear was born in 1964 when Jim purchased 200 black coats, 200 white coats, and 50 dozen formal shirts. He started his fledgling business in a small 900 square foot house near the men's store and had no idea what the next forty plus years would bring!
The company began to grow rapidly from the beginning and soon outgrew the house and two additions. Jim moved to an abandoned flour mill on the south side of Trenton and enlisted the help of his family, his wife Betty, his brother Don, and many dedicated employees to build the business.
Leadership Passes to the Next Generation
In 1984, misfortune struck as Jim suffered a heart attack and underwent major surgery. The doctors told him it was time to give up his successful formalwear business. Fortunately, Jim and Betty had two sons that had grown up with the business. Gary and Mike were actively involved in various aspects of the rapidly growing company.
In September of that year, the youngest son, Gary, and his wife, June, purchased the company from his parents and brother. Mike then moved to California where he opened his own very successful retail tuxedo shop. Jim passed away in February of 1996.
Technology Improves JFW's Ability to Serve the Retailer
Under Gary's leadership, the company began focusing its efforts solely on wholesale distribution and technological advances in computers, production and dry-cleaning.
Each Service Center was totally revamped. Newer, efficient production and cleaning facilities were developed to improve quality and timeliness of delivery. All facilities became computerized allowing effective control of orders and inventory. New Jim's Formal Wear catalogs and marketing materials were designed to help enhance each retailer's position in their respective markets.
Corporate Headquarters is Expanded
The company's outstanding growth during the Eighties also called for expansion of the corporate offices. In January of 1989, Jim's Formal Wear moved into its new state-of-the art facility on a four acre tract of land east of Trenton. The 52,000 square foot building that was thought to be big enough to meet the needs for the next 20 years, has been added onto three times. The facility now totals over 100,000 square feet, on eight acres, and houses the latest technology in order processing and company control.
A new Customer Care Center was built at the corporate headquarters in 2000 and has become critical to JFW's continued success.
A Third Generation Assumes Leadership
In 2011, Gary's son, Steve, was named as the company's President. Steve grew up working within Jim's Formal Wear and began his career in the shoe department shining shoes and driving a van to deliver tuxedos to customers. He spent a number of years leading JFW Marketing Team before being named President. His vision for the future reflects Jim Davis' core belief of delivering a quality product at a fair price while positioning JFW as the easiest formalwear company to work with.
America's Most Trusted Tuxedo Source
Today, Jim's Formal Wear Company is known as 'the largest wholesale formalwear rental company in the world.' Its ten strategically-located Service Centers total over 300,000 square feet of office, production and warehouse space.
Jim's Formal Wear Company Service Center Locations
Service Center Contact Information
Supporting the Nation's Largest Network of Retailers
Jim's Formal Wear is priveleged to serve over 5,000 menswear stores, bridal shops and other formalwear-related retailers in the country.
"Leave this world a little better than you found it..."
JFW takes a great deal of pride in being a responsible corporate citizen and in the contributions that have been made to our surrounding communities. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to: local schools; churches; needy families; scholarship funds; local police, fire and ambulance services; the United Way; the Ronald McDonald House; Visiting Nurses Associations and the Shriner's Hospital for Children, just to name a few.
Living the Mission Established by Jim
Jim Davis' founding principle of 'Quality Merchandise and Service at a Fair Price' has remained and continues to be the company's philosophy today. Jim's Formal Wear will do their best to never betray the trust their nationwide network of retailers place in them and likewise, the trust the end-consumer places in Jim's Formal Wear retailers. Special events that require formal attire are far too important to accept less than the very best.
Jim's Formal Wear will never forget its roots and why Jim Davis founded the company. They continue to live by this mission statement:
Doing whatever it takes to create the ultimate formalwear experience!
 
 

Jim Davis
founder of Jim's Formal Wear LLC
Major Company Events:
1964
Jim's Formal Wear Company started by Jim and Betty Davis
1968
Trenton, Illinois facility expansion begins
1969
Jim starts a chain of tuxedo retail stores under the name of Mister Penguin
1970's
Nationwide expansion begins with establishment of Service Centers in Northern Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Kansas, and Texas
1984
Jim Davis suffers a heart attack and company is purchased by Jim's son, Gary, and his wife, June
1989
New corporate offices built; additions made in 1997 and 2000
1993
JFW introduces the 'Formal Guarantee' and becomes the first tuxedo wholesaler to put a satisfaction guarantee in writing
1994
Jim Davis recognized by the International Formalwear Association with The Black Tie Award
1999
Service to customers on the West Coast improves with establishment of Service Center in Visalia, CA
2004
Gary Davis recognized by the International Formalwear Association with The Black Tie Award
2004
JFW becomes affiliated with the Certified Restoration and Drycleaning Network (CRDN) and utilizes its drycleaning expertise to assist people whose possessions became soiled due to disasters, fires and floods
2005
JFW enhances service to the Northeast with a Service Center in Endicott, NY
2008
New Richmond, VA Service Center begins servicing the Mid Atlantic Region
2011
Jim's grandson, Steve, becomes President and COO; Jim's great-grandson, Jack, is born
Awards and Honors:
1994 and 1995
Finalist in the Top 25 Small Businesses in St. Louis Awards - as determined by
St. Louis University and The St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Assoc.
2001
Winner of Mississippi Valley Family Business Award
2003
Winner of Great Game of Business National All Star Award
Associations:
International Formalwear Association
Gary Davis, Board of Directors
(1982-2001); Past President (1988-89)
Steve Davis, Board of Directors (2008-present)
Drycleaning and Laundry Institute