As readers of my blog know, I love LLBean. I love their products, prices, quality, customer service, and I love Freeport ME. That being said, I will be watching closely to see what kind of changes will occur. The current CEO, Chris McCormick, took over in 2001, and has worked for LLBean since 1983. Mr. McCormick was the first leader of LLBean that wasn’t a member of the family, but he has a long history at the company, including serving the role of chief operating officer before he became CEO.
The man that has been chosen to replace McCormick is Stephen Smith, currently Walmart’s chief marketing and merchandising officer in China. Smith will start in January and McCormick will step down in February, so they will have a one month overlap. Smith did live in Portland ME with his family for 6 years, so its not like he is a total alien to the area. He is also involved in hiking in the White Mountains, cycling, kayaking, swimming, skiing/snowboarding at Sunday River & Sugarloaf, and says he wants to hike Katahdin. Despite all of that, he is the first CEO that is not a member of the family and didn’t come from working at LLBean.
I know that Smith has fantastic experience from working for Hannaford’s and Walmart, but when I heard that part of the reason why they hired him was to deal with the boot backlog AND that he has ties to retail in China, I couldn’t help but to have the worry that manufacturing Bean boots will end up being outsourced to China. I know, that is crazy talk. It won’t happen. He isn’t even involved in manufacturing, he’s a marketing guy. LLBean employs so many people in Maine, and Bean boots have always been handcrafted in Maine, and that’s the way it will always be, right? Right!? Look at these boots, made by human hands right in Maine. Love them.
Leon Gorman, before he recently passed away, gave his stamp of approval to Smith, saying that Smith was the real deal. I am all about LLBean becoming more and more successful, as long as quality stays the same or increases, prices stay lower than competitors, and customer service stays the same. Here’s the story from the Portland Press Herald.
I love this company & honestly see working at LLBean as a total retirement for fun job. I just sent off my LLBean wish list to family members that asked for Christmas gift ideas, can’t help but wonder how this changing of the guard will affect my beloved brand….I am going to choose to hope for the best though. Stephen Smith, I’m here if you ever need advice!