Tanks for the memories

Oct. 1, 2005
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

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.

About the Author

Bruce Sauer | Editor

Bruce Sauer has been writing about the truck trailer, truck body and truck equipment industries since joining Trailer/Body Builders as an associate editor in 1974. During his career at Trailer/Body Builders, he has served as the magazine's managing editor and executive editor before being named editor of the magazine in 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.