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L.L. Bean

Retailer of outdoor clothing.

L.L. Bean Inc
Freeport, ME 04033
Employees: 4,200
CEO: Christopher McCormick
Privately held

Website: http://www.llbean.com

Career Site

L.L.Bean, Inc. has been a trusted source for quality apparel, reliable outdoor equipment and expert advice for more than 90 years. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company has grown from a one-man operation to a global organization with annual sales of $1.5 billion. Company headquarters are in Freeport, ME, just down the road from the first original store.

The company also operates 13 stores in 10 states.

The 160,000-square-foot L.L.Bean flagship store is located in Freeport, Maine, on the original site where L.L. Bean opened his retail business in 1917. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the flagship store draws close to three million visitors each year. It features a trout pond in the middle of the store.

In 2008, L.L.Bean produced 55 catalogs which were distributed to customers in all 50 US states and more than 160 countries. In 2008, nearly 13 million customer contacts were received, with over 770,000 coming on the busiest week of the year. Nearly 80,000 L.L.Bean orders were placed online in a single day in December 2008.

In 2008, L.L.Bean employed over 5,400 people year-round. More than 12,000 people worked for L.L.Bean during the 2008 winter holiday season.

The company plans to cut 200-240 employees in Maine due to weaker sales in 2009.


In 1911, an avid outdoorsman named Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean returned from a hunting trip with cold, damp feet and a revolutionary idea. L.L. enlisted a local cobbler to stitch leather uppers to workmen's rubber boots, creating a comfortable, functional boot for exploring the Maine woods. This innovative boot - the Maine Hunting Shoe - changed outdoor footwear forever and began one of the most successful family-run businesses in the country.

L.L. began his business by working out of the basement of his brother's apparel shop. In 1912, he obtained a mailing list of nonresident Maine hunting license holders and prepared a three-page flyer that boldly proclaimed, "You cannot expect success hunting deer or moose if your feet are not properly dressed. The Maine Hunting Shoe is designed by a hunter who has tramped the Maine woods for the last 18 years. We guarantee them to give perfect satisfaction in every way." The public could not resist the commonsense logic and genuine enthusiasm of his appeal.

One hundred orders came in for his new product. However, L.L. did not meet with immediate success. The rubber bottoms separated from the leather tops and 90 of those first 100 pairs were returned. Although it nearly put him out of business, L.L. kept his word and refunded the purchase price. He borrowed more money, corrected the problem and, with undiminished confidence, mailed more brochures. L.L. had learned the value of personally testing his products, of honest advertising based on firm convictions and of keeping the customer satisfied at any cost.

L.L.Bean, Inc. quickly established itself as a trusted source for reliable outdoor equipment and expert advice. The small company grew. Customers spread the word of L.L.Bean's quality and service. L.L. built on his success using all company profits for advertising. He was so intent on building his mailing list; he eventually inspired Freeport resident and Maine writer John Gould to say, "If you drop in just to shake his hand, you get home to find his catalog in your mailbox."

L.L. focused on the essentials. Employees also understood that the business of L.L.Bean was to provide high-quality products backed by excellent service. As Leon Gorman, grandson of L.L. and company president from 1967 to 2001, has said, "Word-of-mouth advertising and customer satisfaction were critical to L.L.'s way of thinking. To hear that one of his products failed was a genuine shock to his system. That customer was a real person to L.L., and he'd put his trust in the L.L.Bean catalog."

When L.L. Bean started his company, his view of serving the customer was as revolutionary as his product. L.L. said, "A customer is the most important person ever in this office - in person or by mail."


- Competitive compensation and a broad cafeteria-style benefit plan including health care and dependent care reimbursement accounts, paid vacation and holidays, pension and 401K plans, and tuition reimbursement
- Employee Discount-generous discounts of 33 1/3% to 40% on most regularly priced items, as well as a 25% discount on merchandise at our Outlet stores
- Onsite Fitness Program-with company-wide incentive programs, 10 onsite fitness centers, and reduced rates on health and fitness classes to help every employee meet his or her fitness goals
- Employee Store-thousands of items at a fraction of their original prices
- Employee Use Room-gear for camping, boating, fishing, winter sports, and more is on hand for employees to enjoy
- Rangeley Camps-get away in Maine to one of the seven cottages we maintain on Rangeley Lake, available to employees through lottery drawings for week-long or weekend stays
- Team Days and Outdoor Experience Days-from hikes to paddling trips, these great opportunities let employees develop outdoor interests, enjoy L.L.Bean products, and build stronger relationships with co-workers

Updated April 27, 2009