L.L. Bean is expanding its manufacturing capacity to meet what the company says is an ever-increasing demand for its signature product.
The increase in production of Bean Boots will add an additional 100 jobs by the end of the year between its Brunswick and Lewiston facilities. Between the two manufacturing centers, L.L. Bean churns out thousands of boots daily.
“L.L. Bean produces about 3,000 pairs of boots per day,” says company spokesman Mac McKeever.
That number is expected to grow, McKeever says, as more and more consumers clamor for the iconic footwear. A decade ago, L.L. Bean sold about 150,000 pairs per year. By 2015, it was up to half a million. Next year, the company expects to sell more than a million.
“These beautiful, quirky, functional, rugged boots have just really resonated with cross-generational folks. Still, the folks that work outdoors, the loggers, the farmers, the hunters, the anglers. But now they’ve garnered favor in the fashion community,” McKeever says.
To increase its capacity, L.L. Bean is moving its Lewiston facility to a larger space within the city and is adding an additional injection molding machine, which supervisor Donna Berube explains is used to make the boot’s rubber bottoms.
“As the boots come off, the robots pull the boots, drops it onto a conveyance, and it’s fed to our two people that trim,” she says.
Within seconds of picking up the boot bottom from the conveyor belt, employee Diane Norman cuts the edges to make them clean and smooth, then hands it to Emily Johnson, who affixes the L.L. Bean label on the back heel.
The manufacturing workforce is expected to grow with the increase in production, McKeever says.
“So between our Brunswick manufacturing facility and our Lewiston manufacturing facility, this year we’re going to be hiring over 100 people to keep up with this surge in demand that we’ve realized,” he says.
The pay range will be $12-$17 an hour. The move to the new facility in Lewiston will take place in phases, and will begin this spring.