Tanks for the memories

ONE of the constants in the 100-year history of Beall Corporation is the company's knowledge of ways to move liquids.

The name of the company may have changed. Its locations have expanded, and its manufacturing techniques have become more sophisticated. But Beall continues to make it possible for liquids to get from Point A to Point B.

John Beall focused on the general transportation when he moved from Texas to Portland, Oregon, shortly after the turn of the 20th century. His original Beall & Company was a distributor of road-building equipment. But soon after starting his business, he shifted into manufacturing — producing pipe and changing the company name to Coast Culvert & Plume.

The company changed direction — and its name — again in the 1920s, producing steel water tanks and petroleum storage tanks under the name Beall Pipe & Tank Company. That move, however, got it involved in the industry in which it operates today — the production of truck tanks and trailers.

Through a series of acquisitions, the company is also heavily involved in dump trailer and body production. But it has been the tank business where Beall has made its share of innovations.

To commemorate its first century in business, Beall held a special dinner for customers, employees (current and retired), and business associates. More than 300 people attended the semiformal event.

Those attending the reception and dinner viewed multimedia presentations that highlighted many of the products the company introduced since it began manufacturing tank trailers and truck tanks in 1928.

According to company history, here are some of Beall's accomplishments through the years:

  • 1946 — First frameless steel tank pull trailer

  • 1949 — First successful aluminum truck tank pull trailer.

  • 1949 — First head press for using air pressure to dish tank heads.

  • 1953 — First successful tank-hopper for two-way transport.

  • 1955 — First “no-step” aluminum semitrailer and its first all-aluminum platform semitrailer.

  • 1967 — First all-aluminum bottom dump.

  • 1985 — First foldaway top for aluminum bottom dump trailers.

  • 1988 — Trademark for the Beall Bullet aluminum bottom dump trailer.

All in the family

Another constant has been the Beall family involvement in the company that now spans four generations.

John E and G Franklin Beall, nephews of the founder, joined the company in the mid-1920s. John E Beall started his career as a night watchman with the company but was named president in 1932. He is responsible for most of the innovations mentioned above.

His son Jerry is the current chairman of the company. Jerry Beall has four sons in the company: Jim (president), Mike, Mark, and Brent.

“We still offer the customer a custom-built design of premium quality at a fair price,” Jerry Beall says. “We think of ourselves as automotive stylists, as our equipment must not only be good, it must look good. It helps that our team of craftsmen are second to none in the industry.”

The four generations have seen the company grow significantly over the years. The little pipe and culvert company in Portland now has locations throughout much of the United States west of the Mississippi and has a dealer network that reaches into Wisconsin and Illinois.

Making changes

No company survives for 100 years without being quick to adapt to a changing market. Beall, which began as a distributor of road equipment 100 years ago, has grown into a major manufacturer and distributor of specialty trailers. Through a combination of internal growth and the acquisition of several manufacturing companies, Beall has developed a network of manufacturing plants and factory branches.

The company also has expanded its definition of its market. Increasingly, Beall is finding global opportunities in the specialty trailer business. The company has become an exporter of a variety of trailers, shipping product recently to Canada, Chile, Honduras, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, and Taiwan.

At work in the West

With a network of manufacturing plants and branches (some locations do both in the same building) Beall Corporation works to provide specialty trailers — primarily tanks and dumps.

The company has a physical presence in about half the states west of the Mississippi and an independent dealer network that stretches as far east as Wisconsin and Illinois.

Here is a list of Beall locations and the work they perform:

Plants:

Portland, Oregon

11 drive-through bays (70-ft). Added a 5,000-sq-ft service wing in 1980. 4,500-sq-ft parts wing in 1985. 2,700-sq-ft for tank finishing. In 1998, 15,000 sq ft for manufacturing space. Now — 52,000 sq ft.

Billings, Montana

In 1975, Beall Corporation acquired a company previously owned by John Beall. The existing plant served customers in the Midwest and Inter-Mountain region. Two years later, the company opened a 90,000-sq-ft tank trailer plant that also includes service and parts department.

Turlock, California

Bought Superior Stainless of Manteca in 1977, a manufacturer of stainless steel tanks. For edibles and chemicals.

Acquired 19 acres in 1995 in nearby Turlock and built three buildings that combine for more than 70,000-sq-ft of manufacturing space. To get the most from the available space, Beall equipped the plant with a new 24-ft seam welder, a 24-ft Bertsch roll, a CNC plasma cutting table, and new computers that serve as CAD stations.

In 1999, Beall acquired Lobb Trailers, a manufacturer of composite bottom dump trailers, and integrated Lobb production within the Turlock plant. The company added Cal-Steeler bottom dump double and transfer units to the lineup of products manufactured in Turlock.

Dickinson, North Dakota

Beall Trailers of Dakota opened in 1980 to repair oilfield service equipment, but the 10,500-sq-ft facility now manufactures steel bottom dumps.

Salem, Oregon

Pioneer Truck Equipment of Salem, Oregon, was a Beall acquisition in 2001. The Salem plant continues to manufacture the Pioneer and Truckweld dump bodies and trailers.

Parts:

Billings, Montana

Beall bought Standard Parts Company, a specialized trailer parts house, in 1991.

Branches:

Billings, Montana

The branch opened in 1998 with the acquisition of five acres and a building owned by Pierce Truck & Equipment. The building was expanded to 13,200 square feet in 2000. The operation offers, sales, service, and repair.

Denver, Colorado

Beall of Colorado opened in 1986 as a complete sales and service facility. The 12,800-sq-ft shop also is capable of producing petroleum pumper units.

Phoenix, Arizona

Beall opened a factory branch on the east side of Phoenix in 1980 and opened on the west side in 1996. The two locations were combined when Beall built a larger facility on the west side in 2001.

Portland and Springfield, Oregon

The Portland branch is a trailer dealership downstairs and corporate office upstairs. The building originally was home to Olympic Equipment Company, a trailer dealer headquartered in Portland and with a branch in Springfield, Oregon. The two locations were renamed Beall Transport Equipment Company when acquired in 1994.

Rialto, California

Located east of Los Angeles, the facility opened in 1988 as a sales, service, and repair operation. It is a 16-bay shop built on a three-acre site.

Seattle, Washington

The Beall Trans-Liner of Washington sales and service operation opened in 1981. The 12,000-sq-ft shop includes complete tank cleaning service and a large inventory of parts. And when Beall later acquired Truckweld, a Seattle dump body and trailer manufacturer, Beall began using the facility for manufacturing. Beall moved all operations under one 76,000-sq-ft roof in 1999. Two years later, however, manufacturing was consolidated in Salem following Beall's acquisition of Pioneer Truck Equipment.

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