Riding For The Brand by Lawrence H. Lee is an 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 1980’s. At times, just days away from declaring bankruptcy, Lee, with his dogged determination, his love of Western and his belief in the people at the airline, he cajoled, managed and inspirationally led Western out of the mire and into profit. Resigning prior to Western’s eventual demise, with merger to Delta airline, this book tells the story of an upright, moral man determined to make a mark in the company and the industry he loved.
It became clear, 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 by 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 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.