LEWISTON — A seemingly insatiable demand for Bean boots is bringing 100 jobs to town.

L.L.Bean has signed a 20-year lease to leave its current production facilities on Westminster Street this spring and move down the road to the 110,000-square-foot former VIP warehouse, doubling its size and growing to 140 employees by year’s end.

Spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said the company sold more than 600,000 pairs of Bean boots in 2016 and it’s forecasting 700,000 pairs for 2017, “probably 1 million in 2018.”

The iconic boots — priced at $119 a pair for the 8-inch-high model, without insulation — are made in only two places, Lewiston and Brunswick.

In looking to grow to meet that demand, she said, the company wanted to stay here.

“We really focused on the Lewiston area,” Beem said. “It has a long heritage of manufacturing. They are hard workers and they are skilled craftsman and they are great employees. They take a lot of pride in their work — it shows in their boots.”


L.L.Bean is retrofitting the new space at 12 Lexington St., which is all on one floor and more efficient, she said.

Currently, Bean boot bottoms are made on two injection molding machines, one in Lewiston and one in Brunswick, with all of the boot tops sewn in Brunswick.

Beem said a new, $1 million injection molding machine is being made in Italy, to be installed at its new facility here, giving Lewiston two. The company is also adding stitching to the new Lewiston space for items such as boots, dog beds and totes.

The additional injection molding machine will give the company flexibility to experiment with styles and colors, “maybe something a little bit different, just to keep the boots lively and fun,” she said.

New workers are being hired and trained in batches, she said. “For footwear stitching jobs, the training curve is quite extensive, lasting about six months. It’s not like you can hire a class of people and put them on the floor; they really need a while to get up to speed. What works best is having them mentored with somebody who’s a seasoned worker.”

L.L.Bean has a back order on its popular boots, although not as large as the one this time last year, Beem said.

Lincoln Jeffers, the city’s economic and community development director, said he was happy to hear the kind words Beem had for Lewiston.

“You have the long heritage of shoemaking in the community, great workforce and also Compounding Solutions is a local company that compounds the materials that go into the boot bottoms and they are within 2 miles of each other — (and) they’re about to double their plant size,” Jeffers said. “All good things.”


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