Each year since 1989, L.L.Bean has honored a select few employees with the prestigious Bean’s Best Award. Employees from across the company are nominated by their peers and only the best rise to the top to win this coveted award.
To commemorate its 100th anniversary last year, L.L.Bean wanted to create a trophy that would serve to honor all the Bean’s Best award recipients over the years, similar to the Stanley Cup trophy concept. Longtime L.L.Bean employee (and talented woodworker) Albert K. was tasked with creating a trophy worthy of the company’s highest form of recognition. This was a top-secret project with detailed planning and execution, and when the trophy was unveiled, employees were amazed by Albert’s transformation of a simple block of wood into this work of art.
It took Albert about 150 hours to transform a block of walnut into an awe-inspiring replica of an L.L.Bean Men’s size 12″ Maine Hunting Shoe. It sits atop a wooden support with the engraved names of Bean’s Best recipients from 1989 to 2012 and unlimited space to add the names of future winners.
Watch the video below to see Albert at work on the project.
Albert was raised in Northern Minnesota, and as a young boy, he would watch his father carve wooden spearing decoys used for ice fishing. He thought it looked like fun, so at just five years old, armed with a butter knife and balsa wood, Albert started carving his own creations.
“Unfortunately, my carving career was put on hold for a few months after my parents discovered that I found my Dad’s oil stone and used it to sharpen that butter knife to a nice edge!,” remembers Albert. But that didn’t stop him. “I enjoyed it so much – whenever I had free time, you’d find me carving something – small things at first, like birdhouses and paddles. Then as I got older, I designed and built an ice boat and a kayak.”
Albert continued to hone his carving and wood-turning skills over the years, and today he’s a seasoned artist, creating magnificent sculptures out of pieces of wood that he often finds when he’s out backpacking or exploring the outdoors.
“I get a lot of personal satisfaction from carving,” says Albert, “and creating this trophy was both exciting and challenging. When it was done, I felt really good. It was nice to see so many people interested in it – I’ve never had such a barrage of questions about my work!”
The L.L.Bean Boot trophy will soon be on display at the L.L.Bean flagship store in Freeport for everyone to enjoy. Please leave a comment below to congratulate Albert on a job well done.