Sep 4, 2015
Longtime L.L. Bean head Leon Gorman dies at 80, company says
Sep 4, 2015
Leon Gorman, former president and chairman of family-owned L.L. Bean Inc, Maine's trademark outdoor gear and clothing company, has died of cancer, the company said on Thursday. He was 80.
Gorman, known among employees for his soft-spoken manner and for often bringing his hunting dogs into the office, helped to take the family business from a folksy $4.8 million catalog company to a $1.61 billion retailer with retail stores in Japan and across the United States.
After retiring as president in 2001, he became the company's chairman and increasingly focused his attention on volunteer and philanthropic causes, giving his time and money to conservation groups as well as many charities in Maine, where he lived with his wife, Lisa.
Gorman died at his home in Yarmouth in southern Maine, the same one where he was raised as a child, after a months-long fight with cancer, a company statement said.
Gorman became president of L.L. Bean in 1967 following the death of his grandfather, Leon Leonwood Bean, who founded the Freeport, Maine-based company in 1912.
During his 34-year tenure as president, he helped transform the company, modernizing its sourcing and marketing network, expanding its retail presence to other states and countries - but always with an eye to the small-town customer service that had made the company famous.
"He was a boss, mentor, coach, community leader, dear friend and inspiration. Most importantly, he was the most decent human being you would ever want to meet," Chris McCormick, the company's chief executive and first non-family member to assume the title, said in an internal memo Thursday.
Leon Gorman's nephew, Shawn Gorman, a great grandson of Leon Leonwood Bean, recently took over as chairman of the board, a signal that the closely held company would remain under family leadership.
The company's flagship retail store, in Freeport, has no locks on its doors and never closes, a holdover from the days when outdoorspeople would stop in to pick up supplies at odd hours on their way to Maine's lakes and forests.
Today, the company has 5,200 year-round employees, operates 22 retail stores outside Maine and sends catalogs to nearly 170 countries, according to company information.
L.L. Bean's iconic leather-topped, rubber-bottomed Bean Boot, originally called the Maine Hunting Shoe by its founder, continues to be a trademark product, selling a record 450,000 pairs in 2014, the company said.
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