As a native Mainer growing up in Aroostook County, Beahm had daily access to the natural world he loved exploring as a child. “I’m not sure I appreciated just how special Maine was until I saw other parts of the world,” he shares, “but anyone who moves away knows how extraordinary this state is when they return. There aren’t many places like the land I was raised in—one where you can catch a brook trout two minutes from your front door.”
Beahm’s love for the lessons he learned outdoors, however, was complemented by the academic interests that led him to become the first member of his family to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. That education allowed him to work for the company that stands as an international icon for the rugged beauty of Beam’s home state. During his 34-year tenure at L.L.Bean, Beahm learned almost every facet about the company’s history, operations, and goals in a career path that took advantage of his love for new learning. He held executive positions in manufacturing, process design, strategic planning, marketing, finance and more. That journey eventually led him to work directly with Leon Gorman, the grandson of the company’s founder, a man who embodied the values of the company Beahm had grown to love.
“I’ll never forget one of the seminal moments I had in my career with Bean,” says Beahm. “Fifteen minutes before a scheduled meeting with Leon, I was told that he’d tapped me to be the company’s director of strategic planning. When I confided in Leon that I questioned whether I had the experience for the position, he gave an answer that was characteristic of the faith the company regularly showed in its employees. “You’ll figure it out,” he said.
After a long and rewarding career with the company, Beahm was ready for a change, but had his eye on the kind of phased retirement he’d seen his wife implement. That plan began to take shape in 2009, when he accepted a position as a trustee on the board of Maine Audubon. Beahm took the duties that came with that job in stride as just another step in his long career of public service. “I was raised to give back,” he says, “to help support the community that had always supported me.” That dedication took the form of Beahm’s service to other non-profits as well, such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, The Boy Scout’s Pine Tree Council, and the Portland Nordic Ski Club, among others.
When Beahm was selected as Maine Audubon’s new deputy director, he knew it was time to apply the lessons he’d learned in the business world to advance Maine Audubon’s mission to preserve the wildlife and wildlife habitat of the state he loves. But Beahm wasn’t the only one at Maine Audubon who appreciated how a commercial perspective could help advance Maine Audubon’s goal of wilderness conservation. “Maine Audubon’s former executive director, Ted Koffman, first introduced me to the concept of Eco/Eco,” says Beahm. “It posits that the best way to advance ecological and economic interests is to recognize the need for both, and to find a way to balance those demands. This is especially true in Maine, where the success of many of its businesses is built upon the brand equity of Maine’s natural assets. L.L.Bean was one of the few companies that could have prepared me for administering that kind of policy. Their commitment to the employees, local community, and natural environment they define as key stakeholders in their business helped me gain the broad perspective that creates the best chance for mutual success.”
As he reflects on a career that’s always blurred the boundaries between his professional and personal lives, Beahm notes the lesson he’s shared with his children as the secret to a happy life. “I’ve always told my kids that success doesn’t start with a dollar sign,” he says. “I made the conscious choice to stay in Maine a long time ago. It’s the best place I know to nourish both the economic wellbeing and natural lifestyle that lead to the richest kind of life.”
Andy Beahm’s career has proven just how rewarding such a life can be.