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L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  23 reviews
L.L.Bean is one of only a handful of American companies to have attained almost legendary status in the minds of its consumers. Thanks to the integrity of its product line, consistently strong brand association, and the ability to change with customers needs, L.L.Bean embodies the best qualities long associated with traditional American living: rugged individualism, ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Great book, describes how the grandson joined the company in the 60s, became CEO and his story until retirement in the 200s.

Points which impressed me are;
LL Bean had a focus on image before it became fashionable, they actually called it mystique initially for lack of a better term. The story shows that if you consistently focus on your brand and its story, it will pay off in the long term. It does mean you have to forgo incremental short term profits at times, but it's worth it.

The primary
Winnie Yeung
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a business book that taught two important lessons about what makes a good consumer business:

1) define clear brand positioning and stick to it - even though other brands started out as outdoor equipments back in the 1920s, many of them fell for the trend to become apparel retailers and became susceptible to the rise and fall of fashion trends. L.L. Bean stuck to clear branding to be outdoor company and kept a tight control of selection of merchandise. It was able to perpetuate that Maine
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading the story of L.L. Bean. It was very business oriented but it gave the customer an opportunity to look into what goes in keeping a business afloat. I did not know the business what through all this stuff. I know a few people who have worked there and were happy. I also know about the cabins they have in Western Maine as that is where my parents live.
An interesting read!
Chrissy Gikis
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading the first half of the book—mostly because the colorful stories of LL Bean and how he built his company. The book does go into detail about business, which is great for someone interested, but I personally enjoy stories. I’m not as interested in the nuts and bolts of the company. Overall it was an enjoyable read.
Robin Woodcock
This is essentially an extended HBS case study for LLBean -- I recommend it to anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of how the company came to be and how it has evolved over time. Also a good read for those especially interested in marketing and branding.
Alex O'Connor
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has an overall great story to it. It talks about starting a business and watching it grow to family hardships that must be overcome to keep the business going. It talks about hunting, fishing and hiking throughout the Maine outdoors.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
Major focus on how the company was run. Very detailed business tactics. I was more looking for a broad history of the company.
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good book for someone going into an entrepreneurial field. LL Beans values are awesome...if the world followed Beans values the world would be a great place....Honesty!!!!
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Good book interesting how LL Bean started the company and Leon kept to the strategy as time moved on. Keeping to the golden rules that LL set up! One of the things that LL would say when ask about moving the company forward was " It's good enough I have three meals a day and I can't eat four".
I also like how they would hire people who were into outdoor sports and they would go camping or fly fishing as a group until the mid 90s. LL only sold when he wore and what he liked and how it sold all
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites.
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: business-retail
Leon Gorman the grandson of L. L. Bean provides a frank and solid analysis of how the retail company was forced to redefine itself for the modern age. The transition from a catalog company to retail and online with varied product lines is an interesting struggle even for the best of companies and L. L. Bean is in a far tighter niche market than most. Other reviewers have summarized well what is covered in each of the sections so I will not be labor that but one interesting note is that there are ...more
Faith Reidenbach
The first few chapters of this book, which are memoir by the author, offer fascinating insight into L.L. Bean himself and the author's chutzpah in taking over the company ahead of his uncle. The rest of the book was co-authored with a Harvard Business School bean counter and detail the meteoric growth of L.L. Bean the company. That part is much less interesting, largely because it's horribly repetitive. Bad collaboration.

I read along willingly enough, though. As the author says of LLB customers,
Thomas Mcclintock
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Thomas by: Karena Sinnott
I made it a priority to read this book because, while the writing is only practical, the information is fascinating and hard to find. Leon Gorman really seems to take you along with him in a unique review of his decades of leadership of a great company going through both prosperous and difficult times. With little experience at the beginning, he walks through each step of his climb internally and the company's rise globally. I hope to read more books like this!
Chris Gager
Nov 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I work at LLB so I got a free copy. Not a thrill-a-minute but an interesting look at the founding and growth of this still family owned retail semi-giant. I don't really know Leon but I have spoken with him while waiting on him in the store so I can add him to the list of people I know who've got books listed on Goodreads. Date read is approximate.
Debbie Blicher
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Best read by those who love and are very familiar with the LL Bean company; otherwise, it might really bore you. I am one of the non-bored, and even I found it tedious at times. As a book about a business, it is full of abstract description and empty descriptors.
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great book about the history of the L.L. Bean company and how they have changed and adapted and been proactive over the years to stay in business. A very interesting behind-the-scenes read about a successful business.
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Some interesting Bean factoids. The author was wholly responsible for the growth of the LL Bean story since the 1960s but the book is really a pretty dull read of his management undertakings during that time and dwelled on some of the internal employee and family factoids.

I would skip or skim.
Very interesting start, with the history of the company. The book gets a little sidetracked as Gorman basically talks a lot about how great he was and it goes on a little long, but a solid read. It made me want to go work for Bean's.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Better than I thought it would be as it had some real good LL Bean history as well as how to go about change management. For those of you who are not L.L. Bean fans, there are probably better turn around books to read but if you are a Bean fan, it had some great stories.
Lori Grant
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
A should-read autobiograpy on leadership for knowledge workers, managers, directors, C-levels, and entrepreneurs.
daniel dirnfeld
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Interesting history of the company.
Jun 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
I love LL Bean and want to know more about the history of the company. We visited the main store in Maine on our Maine 2005 trip.
Feb 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
I was really disappointed. I thought this would be a lot better but it is poorly written and frankly kind of boring.
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Steve Losier
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Aug 25, 2010
Jake Epstein
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Oct 17, 2018
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