|WHAT IS LINDA BEAN'S PERFECT MAINE®?
a little introduction, by Linda
Linda Bean's Perfect Maine® is a brand name I have chosen to reflect my personal love of my native state.
As a daughter of American pioneers and Maine dwellers, five of who first who arrived on the historic Mayflower in 1620 and many others on the Ann shortly thereafter, I am happy to report that not one of my American forebears to my knowledge in 12 generations has dwelled anywhere except Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. And that likely includes some Native American heritage from the Penobscots. You might think that could make a person so provincial as to be unable to view anything in Maine as less perfect. But I have traveled a lot, also, including to 4 continents. There are many exciting visits in my background but Maine remains my perfect place. Just looking around every day is wonderful. The shore, the fields, and the forests provide everything we need.
So I call my brand Linda Bean's Perfect Maine® and have registered it as my trademark.
Notice the Celtic rope in my logo designed by Doug Anderson of Tenants Harbor. No matter how the rope and lobster appears in variations of this logo, the center part is always same. It is a good mark for a group of companies, including Linda Bean's Maine Lobster, formed to maintain what is special to me.
The Celts and Scots invented and shaped much of what is good in Maine and America. The pioneer ancestor of my grandfather, LL Bean, came to these shores in 1652 as a prisoner of war for fighting for the covenant in the highlands of Scotland. More than 12 generations later, our family adheres to principle, and to the values of trustworthiness and leadership.
Along my own business and family journey, there's been hard work but also time taken to reflect, keep a diary, and grow roses. Thankfulness comes easily to me and I move away from setbacks as quickly as I can. To lead when I can or there is a need, and to step back when it's OK to let others lead -- those are my management style. In the middle of my 6th decade, I went hands-on into the lobster business, and that's what you will hear about next. As a recap, here is how things are going so far:
2007. On Feb. 28 I purchased Bay Lobster Company, renaming it Port Clyde Lobster. My dock crew bought 400,000 pounds of lobsters that year. I was trained by a member of the Atwood family, David Larson, nee Albano who had owned and operated Bay Lobster for over 20 years and wanted to retire. Living just down the road 1/4 mile, I learned what I could and thought about growing the business to an expanded plateau, including some added value lobster products.
2008. A spur of the moment decision to take a late winter ferry out to Vinalhaven Island ended up with a deal made with Peter Jones to purchase his floating dock supply of over 1 million pounds of lobsters that year to add to my business. I also invested in a small, unique lobster processing plant in Sagadahoc County, town of Richmond, acquiring equity in it from John Hathaway and wife Suellen of Kennebunk. It remains the only processor in the USA to deal with lobsters without boiling them, and its raw lobster won the Best New Seafood Product at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels. From that process I made a lobster stew and introduced it nationally on QVC-Shopping Network just before Christmas.
Earlier that same year of 2008 I took my herbed lobster roll into the market -- hot butter toasted with a quarter pound of lobster meat, keeping the herb blend a secret, and I opened two summer stands in Maine: Freeport and Rockland. I arranged with John Amato at his Westbrook bakery to customize my bread roll with the flavor, shape and texture I wanted. My lobster roll with a dusting of a green herb complex, which I believe was unique at that time, is now being copied nationally by others, and lobster rolls have become a very popular offering as a sandwich, even with national contests for whose is the best. This is good for Maine.
2008 was also the year I decided to put a brand name to lobster. Combining the words Bean/Maine/Lobster started a very noticeable brand name and pushed me into the marketplace even further. I developed an identification tag for one claw of our live lobsters shipped to 2,000 chain grocery store outlets with salt water tanks -- we were first in the nation to brand lobsters and do the tagging. This verified the authentic source of our Maine lobster right to the dock where purchased, and that development was covered in many magazines and newspapers.
2009. It became apparent a new energy had arrived in Maine lobster dealing. The Maine/Canada old boy network had a differing opinion about the new upstarts. Three of us newcomers -- John Hathaway, John Ready of Portland, and myself -- applied for certification of sustainability for the Maine lobster fishery, submitting the entire Maine shoreline for review to the Marine Stewardship Council, London. A long process of investigation, hearings, and "politics" ensued and is still not finished but would authenticate what is territorially Maine lobster, not just lobster from "anywhere" using the name Maine. We established the Fund for the Advancement of Sustainable Maine Lobster to pay the estimated $200,000 cost of the certification process.
I was fortunate to acquire the lobsters from another wharf that 2009 Spring: the dock business of long time friend Burt Witham, who prefers just to go lobstering and let me take care of the dock duty -- buying the bait, fuel, and of course the lobsters. The volume coming into this wharf has now grown sizably and vies with its "cousin" in Port Clyde for bringing in the most lobsters. Also, in a move to pay our fishermen more bonus, I purchased a seafood processing plant in Rockland, the former home of Oak Island, processor of scallops. We converted 28,000 square feet into lobster processing. About half the lobsters caught in our area have soft shells ideal for processing into commodity and added value products. We separate out the live hardshell lobsters, shipping them by truck or UPS air throughout the USA.
In 2009 a 26-foot lobstermobile was sent on the road to serve my herbed lobster roll of growing popularity at 5 Maine state fairs. Our business added 3 "Perfect Maine" cafes to serve my herbed lobster roll -- in Freeport, Maine, and Camden, Maine, and Portland Maine on Exchange Street in the Old Port. We outfitted a 90-seat LB Perfect Maine® Lobster Roll cafe in Delray Beach, Florida on busy Atlantic Avenue; and I licensed a new takeout on Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts, to Tim and Hilary Martin who had summered for years in Port Clyde. Tim's mother-in-law and I went to the same school, from which I was graduated in 1959: Waynflete , in Portland.
2010. BY year end another buying wharf and business on Vinalhaven Island was added to the business -- this one belonging formerly to Inland Seafoods, Atlanta. Our lobster purchases totaled 3.1 million pounds that year, a good increase from the 400,000 starting point 3 years earlier. Licensing others to sell my herbed lobster roll expanded a bit that year, also, enabling the Martins to establish a Linda Bean's Perfect Maine cafe to take root in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the commercial heart of St. Thomas, visited heavily by cruise lines. My Delray Beach lobster roll cafe was awarded "Best in South Florida" and also won the Golden Spoon Award for the lobster roll recipe I developed with secret herbs I mix. Requests came in for the herbs, but I do not share the recipe! That was a good approach for Colonal Sanders, and seemed to be working for me. Could my roll get to be America's next great sandwich, I thought?
Continuing with a strong message about my commitment to small boat lobstering, I took an unwavering stand for Maine dealers to be able to prove the exact Maine wharf source with MSC certification. It would prevent carpetbagging our Maine brand and identity theft of the word "Maine" on lobsters not caught in our state waters. Lobster buyers could trust in knowing where their lobsters are coming from. There are many impostor "Maine" lobster being sold under wrong names -- (not just Canadian, but also Caribbean), and I decided that more education is needed to safeguard our Maine brand, and decided to purchase more advertising space including the inside the cover of Downeast Magazine. For the second season we served my lobster roll from our lobstermobile at summer and fall agricultural fairs at Windsor, Cumberland and Fryeburg, and we introduced the "The Colossal," made with 6 ounces of lobster meat processed to perfection at our own plant.
2010 is memorable due to our successful launch by Walmart of our first frozen seafood product: cooked, in-shell cocktail claws, frozen and pre-scored for easy shell removal. This was a product exclusive produced in our own plant in Rockland. Walmart has reordered several times after introducing it in nearly 800 of their stores nationwide. I also trademarked the name Lobster Cuddlers® for new nylon reinforced poly packaging of this product for retail, and also sent this product into the food service market that takes it to restaurant chefs and managers.
2011. The bonuses I announced for my fishermen totaled $1.5 million for calendar year 2010. John Petersdorf has set a goal of buying more than 4.4 million pounds of lobster for our business this year, having had a successful trade appearance at the International Boston Seafood Show in March. There we introduced retail poly packaging for 5 new frozen lobster products: Home Chef Lobster meat (out of shell, cooked 16 oz package); Creamy Lobster Bisque (16 oz); Lobster Parmesan Cream Sauce for pouring over steamed vegetables, fish, and pasta (16 oz); and ravioli pockets that I am trademarking as Linda Bean's Maine Lobster Pasta Lobster Traps. These are filled with whole chunks of lobster meat and are hand made from scratch, including the pasta dough (8 to a package).
We have entered several local shows this year with Sysco Northern New England to introduce the new frozen product line to their salesmen, who take sell them into food service for restaurants, including a very tasty "clammy" Maine Clam Chowder that has been welcomed. We've begun to process Maine shrimp in our own plant, providing extended seasonal paychecks to our plant employees. New buildout additions this year are planned to include a 240-seat full service restuarant in the heart of Freeport called Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern, on the site of a 1790 tavern, and with outdoor patio and deck dining -- our biggest such project to date. All our sites feature Summit Spring Water bottled at its single source, Harrison, Maine -- a water so perfect that it is the only one licensed by the State of Maine that it can be sold unfiltered: raw -- a product we sell in $6 glass bottles at the Port Clyde General Store. In Freeport village I am adding a line of Linda Bean's Perfect Maine® ice creams packed by Gifford's in Skowhegan, Maine, plus a 15-seat Lobster Theater with Touch Tank for Kids® and short films to learn about children growing up in lobstering families here in Maine.
This October we expect to open with 110 seats at the Portland International Jetport with our new license to HMS Host International. Walt Disney World is likely to license my lobster roll and Lobster Cuddlers® at the 2011 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. Who knows what will come to us next? It sounds like we are on our way to somewhere. We want to be ready!
Our CEO John Petersdorf has helped me grow our business to where we now have a couple hundred employees, more and more fishermen bringing us lobsters, and lots of responsibility and exciting projects. We are both thankful for a dedicated working team to make authentic Maine lobster more accessible and affordable to the consumer, which we think is the best formula to help support the Maine lobster industry. John and I thank all who understand our fervor to help achieve good goals.
Copyright © 2011 Linda Bean's Perfect Maine® All rights reserved