In the age of declining American manufacturing, L.L. Bean’s facilities are bursting at the seams.
The company has outgrown is manufacturing facility in Brunswick, Maine, where workers hand stitch and assemble the iconic Bean Boot.
Demand for those boots has surged, creating a backlog of orders. L.L. Bean has opened a new, 100,000 square-foot facility in Lewiston, where 135 people will work. Executives hope the additional space and employees will help them tackle the back orders, but also reach record-breaking production numbers.
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“We are shooting for over a million pair of boots in 2018,” said Jack Samson, Vice President of Fulfillment and Manufacturing at L.L. Bean. “It’s exciting to see the expansion of manufacturing in Maine.”
The Bean Boot has been around for more than 100 years, and was originally designed with hunters in mind. But in recent years, the duck boot look has become a fashion trend, and has even been seen on runway models. Teenagers and college students have taken to the bean boot, and a pair has become a coveted, and hard to come by gift during the holiday season.
“That was a shocker to me, to see it as a fashion statement,” said Pete Farley, senior workflow coordinator at L.L. Bean. He has forty years of experience at the company, and about 12 years’ experience making the boots.
“It’s amazing that we can make the amount of boots that we’re making, and keep the quality, as we do,” he said.