Class of 1997
Laurent Beaudoin was born in Laurier Station, Quebec in 1938. He graduated from the Université de Sherbrooke with a Master of Commerce, where he met his future wife, Claire, daughter of Joseph-Armand Bombardier. Beaudoin joined his father-in-law in the family snowmobile business in 1963, and became President at the age of 27 upon Bombardier’s death.
After just five years of Laurent’s unique leadership, Bombardier annual revenues increased from 8 million to 74 million dollars. Beaudoin eventually became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bombardier Inc. For three decades, his diversification strategy developed a rural Quebec snowmobiling company into an international business empire. Employing 40,000 people worldwide, Bombardier became a leader in mass transit, aerospace, and motorized consumer products.
Beaudoin’s vision of diversification resulted from a period of hard times experienced by the company. The turnaround came in 1970, with the acquisition of the Austrian Tramway company and its railway expertise. After building Montreal’s subway cars, Bombardier entered the world market with its billion dollar contract to supply New York City with revolutionary graffiti-proof subway cars, the monorail cars for Disney World, and the railcars for the Chunnel, the tunnel that runs under the English Channel.
Beaudoin personally steered Bombardier into aviation through the acquisition of financially ailing companies such as Canadair, Short Brothers PLC of Belfast, Learjet, and de Havilland Aircraft. This expansion established the Bombardier aerospace division as a global leader, and within a decade sales grew from 350 million to 4 billion dollars.
Laurent Beaudoin was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1973, and was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 1989. He was also declared an officier de l’Ordre du Québec in 1990.
A disciplined entrepreneur and strategist, Beaudoin is known for his motto: “Never be stagnant – if you stop to think about the plateau you’ve reached, someone will move ahead of you.”