Riding for the Brand

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
278 Pages
Reviewed on 01/28/2018
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Author Biography

Lawrence H. "Larry" Lee was born in Santaquin, Utah. He started working for Western Airlines at the age of 16 at the Salt Lake City airport as a baggage handler. Larry eventually became CEO and Chairman of the Board for Western Airlines and was instrumental in creating a "hub" in Salt Lake City in just 3 short months. He brought the airline back from the brink of bankruptcy, which was nothing less than a miracle.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite

Riding for the Brand by Lawrence H. Lee is a beautifully written autobiography that follows the author’s life from the turbulent years of WWII, seeing him through his early careers to becoming the Chairman of the Board of Western Airlines. In this autobiography, the author notes that, at sixteen, he’d had two jobs that could be featured in a resume and expresses his earliest interest in aircrafts. No wonder he worked hard to secure a job with Western Airlines, which he helped rescue from bankruptcy. In this book, readers encounter a visionary, a powerful leader, and they share in the many lessons from the author’s life. The writing is filled with wisdom and leadership insights that can help anyone create winning strategies and leadership skills.

Lawrence H. Lee’s autobiography is both informative and entertaining, a story that features historical references and a vivid setting. Readers are introduced to someone who says things with honesty and an unusual sense of humor. There are very interesting and humorous elements in the narrative that will delight readers, such as when he had to lie about his age to get a job at Western Airlines in Salt Lake. Riding for the Brand is well-structured, and the author delves directly into the story without wasting the reader’s time on much backstory. The narrative voice is clear and compelling, perhaps a reflection of the man behind the words. I couldn’t stop reading and I was so interested to learn the secrets behind his success.

Edith Wairimu

At the age of sixteen, Lawrence H. "Larry" Lee returns to Salt Lake City in 1943 in search of a job, but more importantly for the purpose of fulfilling his passion. He stumbles upon an advertisement in a newspaper that initiates his journey in the aviation industry. Larry starts off as a stock clerk at Western Airlines, earning only forty-seven cents an hour, and has to work eight hours a day and six days a week. It is amazing how this young man grows in his role and serves the airline in different capacities till he becomes Chairman of the Board of the same company in which he started off as a stock clerk. Riding for the Brand by Lawrence H. Lee is the autobiography of a man driven by what he could give and never by what he could gain or receive, a man with a clear vision and determination.

Lawrence H. Lee’s story is very inspiring. His journey is one of patience, perseverance and determination to grow and improve. As I read Riding the Brand by Lawrence H. Lee, I appreciated the fact that Larry got to enjoy parts of his journey as he grew in his role at Western Airlines. He was not just stuck on the end goal, but he got to live through various moments along his path and created beautiful memories. The events in the book also contain humorous scenes which add to the depth of the story. Riding for the Brand is definitely inspiring, especially to those in leadership positions and those who aspire to be leaders in the future.

Grant Leishman

Riding for the Brand by Lawrence H. Lee is the autobiography of the working life of Larry Lee, of Western Airlines on the West Coast of the USA. Larry started at Western Airlines in the early days, at the age of just sixteen as a junior stock clerk and, through his over forty years of service, he rose through the ranks to be, at various times, President, Chairman and CEO of Western Airlines. He oversaw the airline through its most difficult period that struck all airlines in the US during deregulation of the air in the 1980s. At times just days away from declaring bankruptcy, Lee, with his dogged determination, his love of Western Airlines and his belief in the people at the airline, he cajoled, managed and inspirationally led Western Airlines out of the mire and into profit. He resigned prior to Western Airlines’s eventual demise, with a merger to Delta Airline. This book tells the story of an upright, moral man determined to make a mark on the company and in the industry he loved.

It became clear to me, after finishing Riding for the Brand, that Lawrence H. Lee and his beloved wife, Margie, are no longer with us, both having passed away within months of each other in 2017, after an incredible 70 years of marriage. As a tribute, I assume by their children to their father, the publication of this book could not be a more fitting record of what can be achieved with grit, determination and belief, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Although some might find passages of the book to be a little dry, I don’t count myself as one of those. There are plenty of humorous and fascinating anecdotes to keep the reader amused and, as an insight into the rarefied world of both the airline industry and large corporations, I found this book to be both insightful and fascinating. Ultimately though, this story is about one man, a man of courage and conviction who was not only prepared to put his beliefs on the line, but who also had faith in others around him to follow his lead. Lawrence H. Lee was a wonderful business leader and a decent human being. This book is a fitting tribute to the man, his story and the airline that he loved with a passion.