L. L. Bean—The Man and His Company
New England Book Awards, Honorable Mention, Biography/Autobiography
". . . expertly blends personal anecdotes and excerpts from L.L.'s personal letters with the nuts and bolts of the company's growth and development, culminating with a captivating profile of the retail mail-order behemoth as it operates today."
". . . This Witherell guy is a worker, and the result ranks as a complete story for someone like me who personally knew many of the people mentioned in the book . . . . Despite all the information through the book, Witherell kept a lively pace and never bored me. And if you don't believe that claim about boredom, I couldn't put the book down during the third game of the Boston Celtic and Miami Heat playoff series! . . . If you love Bean's, this book is a must."
—Ken Allen, The Maine Sportsman
"James L. Witherell, a Lewiston writer and Maine Guide, presents the general reader with the latest, and by many measures the finest, overall study of the state's most celebrated outdoor sporting goods merchant and the most famous company in Maine . . . . Witherell proves to be good at exploring Bean's camps, "L.L." as an outdoorsman and a businessman (with his strengths and later lack of interest in the future). He also provides insight into Gorman's ability to understand these strengths and weaknesses, and his canny development of a million-dollar static company into an international force. If you don't know Bean's, you can claim to after reading this first-rate book."
—Maine Sunday Telegram
"This is the story of an enterprise and of two ambitious men born sixty-two years apart. One extolled the joys of the great Maine woods, the other the gifts of capitalism bestowed upon a community. One spent fifty years building a business from scratch, the other fifty years building an institution of global significance. Each one owes the other everything for the company's astounding success. This book chronicles in detail the successes and failures, conflicting levels of ambition, the significance of place, and the opportunities gained through vision, focus, and being in the right place at the right time."
—Thomas F. Moser, Founder, Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers, Auburn, Maine
"It started with a boot and a promise—L. L. Bean's soon-to-be-famous Maine Hunting Shoe and a money-back guarantee—that became the underpinning of a hunting, fishing and outdoor apparel business that would be known and admired throughout the world. Jim Witherell's thorough and engaging account of the ups (many) and downs (a few) of Maine's most famous merchandizer and his company leaves the reader thinking Horatio Alger's real name was Leon L. Bean."
—David R. Getchell, Sr., former editor of National Fisherman and co-founder of Maine Island Trail
Because his feet got wet and sore on a hunting trip, L. L. Bean developed his famous boot and started the mail-order company that would change the sleepy town of Freeport, Maine, into a huge outdoor mall. The story begins with the Bean family, young Leon Leonwood Bean's love of the outdoors, his first forays into sales (soap, men's clothing), and then his development of "the boot" and the beginnings of an outdoors outfitting company that ran on a card file system and resisted change. The story of L.L. Bean, Inc.'s phenomenal growth under grandson Leon Gorman is replete with Preppies, MBAs, infighting, and even parodies of a company that would eventually get its own Zip Code.
Jim Witherell is a master Maine Guide and the creator of hiking maps for Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park. Also an avid cyclist, he is the author of Bicycle History (McGann) and working on a book about the Tour de France.
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Avenue
Gardiner, Maine 04345