AUBURN, Maine — For its first 100 years, Lamey-Wellehan was run by a Wellehan, first Dan, then Jim, a rare, long father-son streak.
As the high-end shoe store celebrates its century anniversary next week, President Jim Wellehan, 75, a frequently-lauded businessman, witty and fiercely environmental — he walks through the office shutting out lights, showing off recycling bins — said he’s nearly ready to let employees take over.
As Wellehan transitions into retirement, he’ll pursue an employee stock option plan and slowly have workers buy the company.
“I think we’re starting the end of the P.J. period now — Post Jim,” he said.
His father, a young Dan Wellehan, left school in the ninth grade to work at the Dingley-Foss Shoe Company in Auburn, his first introduction to the industry.
On March 17, 1914, by then a window dresser at Peck’s department store, he partnered with Charlie Lamey, a buyer in the shoe department there, to open Lamey-Wellehan on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. A photo from opening day shows serious young men in white shirts and ties leaning against walls lined with stock.
“Right after he opened the store, World War I broke out,” Jim Wellehan said. “Charlie was here, Dad was in the Navy.”
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