Newspaper article The Canadian Press

After 55 Years, Chairman Emeritus Laurent Beaudoin Bids Adieu to Bombardier

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

After 55 Years, Chairman Emeritus Laurent Beaudoin Bids Adieu to Bombardier

Article excerpt

Beaudoin ends 55-year career at Bombardier

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MONTREAL - The man who steered Bombardier from snowmobile maker to global transportation giant says the founding family's voting control protected the company through tough times.

"If we had given up the minority voting shares I think you would not be here today, you would not see Bombardier as it is," former CEO and chairman Laurent Beaudoin said Thursday at his last Bombardier annual meeting.

He said the recent development of the C Series that nearly drove the company into bankruptcy was difficult, but surviving the 1973 oil crisis was more challenging because Bombardier then only had one product, the Ski-Doo.

"It's often during these difficult times that you make the best decisions," he told reporters after a video tribute that prompted a standing ovation from shareholders.

For example, he said Bombardier got into the public transit business in 1974 at the urging of former Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, later becoming a global railway manufacturer. It then entered the aerospace business by taking over Canadair in 1986, becoming the world's third-largest maker of civil aircraft and one of the largest business jet producers.

Those deals took the company from 700 employees in 1963 to 80,000 today including Bombardier's aerospace and railway businesses plus Bombardier Recreation Products, which was spun off several years ago.

"We passed a difficult period in the last few years but I'm happy to see that now we are looking at growth again and I'm really leaving at the right time. I'm leaving with the recovery," he said.

The son-in-law of company founder Joseph-Armand Bombardier retired Thursday after 55 years with the company. He took over the Valcourt, Que.,-based company several months after Bombardier died at age 56.

The Beaudoin-Bombardier family has occasionally been criticized for holding the voting advantage that gives it 10 votes for each Class A share. …

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