Gary Comer, founder of Lands' End, died at age 78 in 2006. But his legacy extends well beyond the company and the jobs he created in Dodgeville. Comer hired Bill Schleicher 25 years ago to oversee Comer’s private investments — and GCI, the Comer family’s private equity firm, has been based in Waukesha ever since. GCI — the acronym for Gary Comer Inc. — has kept a low profile, Schleicher, the firm’s president and chief operating officer, acknowledges. However, the private-equity firm has invested in an array of companies over the years and has about dozen companies in its portfolio.
The Comer Family Foundation, created in 2013 by combining the Comer Foundation and Comer Science & Education Foundation, focuses on education, health, the environment and culture. The family’s philanthropy is overseen by Frances Comer, Gary Comer’s wife of 44 years at the time of his death, and their two children, Guy Comer and Stephanie Comer.