"Consensus management here at Bean is a way of life."
– Mike Davis, IS Systems Development

IBM 3090, MVS
Catalog sales, outdoor clothes Medium-size shop


L.L. Bean is the largest specialty catalog retailer in the country. The company is particularly well-known to outdoor enthusiasts for boots, clothes, and equipment designed for camping and outdoor sports. The founder of the company patented a method for making rubber adhere to leather in making waterproof boots.

L.L. Bean was founded in 1912 and is now the largest employer in Freeport, Maine, their corporate headquarters. The company is privately-held. There are over 3,000 employees at peak times during the year, all in Freeport, but much of their work is seasonal.



L.L. Bean has an IBM 3090, model 500, which uses the MVS operating system. They also use Macintoshes. Programming is in COBOL and CA-IDEAL, using the database management system CA-Datacom/DB and CICS. Additional software includes CA-ROSCOE and CA-7. They are following an information engineering approach to systems development.

There are 74 computer professionals at L.L. Bean. They work in Planning and Systems Analysis, Systems Development, Information Management and Productivity, Technical Services, Production Support, and the Data Center Services group. Job titles include Programmer, Programmer Analyst, Senior Programmer Analyst, System Administrator, Systems Analyst, and System Developer.

Approximately 70 percent of the work at L.L. Bean is new development. The balance is production support and maintenance. Recent projects have included the development of an online system in CA-IDEAL and CICS to handle return processing more rapidly and a large COBOL batch project to gather information about returns to support better analysis of why items are returned. This system has an online inquiry portion under CA-IDEAL, in which users can use SAS to generate reports. They have also just written a new purchase order system in COBOL and CA-IDEAL under command-level CICS on the IBM 3090.


Employees work in free-standing cubicles. All computer professionals have IBM PCs on their desks. L.L. Bean is a non-smoking environment, with designated areas for smoking. The only travel is to technical conferences. Few computer professionals work more than 45 hours a week. Once or twice a year there may be a few 60-hour weeks, with flexibility to take time off. Overtime is not compensated.

Employees are proud of the corporate emphasis on the customer as boss. The company feels they offer computer professionals competitive salaries and a corporate culture that emphasizes ethics and straight-forward dealing with customers and employees alike.

The company observes 10 holidays. They offer 2 weeks of vacation to start and 3 weeks after 5 years. The company and employees share costs for medical and dental insurance. The company pays for disability insurance, life insurance (one and one-half times annual salary), and tuition reimbursement. There is a retirement plan, a profit-sharing plan, and a thrift savings plan. There have been no layoffs in the IS department.


L.L. Bean looks for attitude and aptitude. The environment stresses innovation, patience, and teamwork. Candidates should have good analytical and communication skills. For senior technical positions, such as architect, a technical fit is important, but for other positions, such as project manager, this is not so critical.

Experience is considered more important than formal education, although a degree may make a difference between two candidates with equal experience. The average programmer in the development group has 3 years of experience. In production support, the average is 4 to 5 years of experience. The average level of education is a Bachelor's degree; a few staff members have a master's degree.

L.L. Bean does hire entry-level programmers; however, they first try to find entry-level programmers within the company through job postings and a programmer's aptitude test. There is a training program for entry-level programmers. New employees are found primarily through ads in the Portland newspaper or the Boston Globe. The company typically hires 5 to 10 computer professionals a year.


Mr. Paul Collet, Staffing Specialist

(207) 865-4761

L.L. Bean

Casco Street

Freeport, Maine 04033

Copyright 1991. Vandamere Press. Covin’s New England Computer Job Guide