Riding for the Brand
Riding for the Brand is the autobiography of Lawrence H. "Larry" Lee. Larry began working for Western Airlines in 1943, at the age of 16, as a baggage handler in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Riding for the Brand is the autobiography of Lawrence H. "Larry" Lee. Larry began working for Western Airlines in 1943, at the age of 16, as a baggage handler in Salt Lake City, Utah. This experience landed him a job in the Naval Air Transport Service during WWII, and he was stationed in Shanghai, among other places. After military service, he felt that he never wanted to fly again Larry married his sweetheart, Margie, and went back to work for Western. In his 43 year career, Larry worked in many different capacities, including assistant VP of labor relations. This work helped to build a foundation with the unions that he would need to save the airline in its later years. There were many changes in the top management of Western Airlines in those years. Talent was difficult to recruit and to maintain. Airlines were struggling to adapt to deregulation, and others the size of Western, such as Braniff and Continental had declared bankruptcy. Larry was charged with setting up a "hub" in Salt Lake City, Utah, and did so in just 3 short months. This was something no other airline had been able to do, and with little or no cash to do it. When Larry became CEO of the airline, Western was losing money and had no long term plan to turn things around. Larry went out to the employees to ask for more wage cuts, and led by example, working for $1 a month until Western returned to profitability. Riding for the Brand is an amazing story of one CEO that got it right, in contrast to corporate officers today that have only self-interest and greed. Larry was truly loyal to the brand, loved by many that worked with him, and on the day that he retired in 1986, Western posted its highest profit in its 60 year history.