Former goaltender Don Beaupre is reaching new heights with aerial equipment business
By Jessi Pierce
Don Beaupre has a knack for finding success in iron and steel.
Whether it’s posting up between iron pipes during a 17-year NHL goaltending career, or running a business that specializes in iron aerial equipment, Beaupre has managed to create successful careers out of each.
But Beaupre admits seeing his name on the back of a hockey jersey isn’t nearly as exciting as seeing it on his own branded equipment.
“Hockey I always kind of grew up with and was always kind of part of me,” he said. “Then you had to reinvent yourself after hockey, and you wonder what that’s gonna look like. I found a place to do that and was able to put my stamp on a company. I’m pretty proud of being able to do that and make the transition. I feel real lucky that I was successful in that.”
Player turned president
Beaupre was drafted into the NHL by the Minnesota North Stars (No. 37 overall) in 1980. He compiled an .885 save percentage and career 268-277-75 record with four different teams, including nine seasons with the Minnesota North Stars (1980-89).
After his retirement in 1997, Beaupre began looking for his next career. Through a childhood friend in Toronto he had become slightly familiar with the equipment rental business in which his friend’s family owned. It had always been in the background while Beaupre focused on hockey, but now with hockey on the side, he started to explore that operation more.
“I wasn’t totally foreign to the rental business, it’s ironic it has always kind of been there a little bit, but there was still a big, big learning curve,” said Beaupre. “Going from goaltending to a rental business isn’t exactly the easiest transition.”
Beaupre first started out alongside partners for four years before branching out on his own. He founded Beaupre Aerial Equipment, an aerial work platform rental business located in Lauderdale, Minn., in 2003, operating as company owner and president until selling the company this past winter.
“Ownership kind of found me more or less, not that I wanted to be an owner, but in the end it worked out OK,” said Beaupre, who began his pursuits with eight employees and grew the company to 42 employees. “I was just looking for something I was interested in, something I could grow in and be a part of, and fortunately I was an owner since day 1. You get to kind of do things the way you want. The colors on the walls are the colors you want. It was kind of fun.
“It’s fun when you’re successful and nerve-racking when the economy’s bad and you’re struggling.”
Stemming from his years of athletics, Beaupre never lost his team mentality. He strived to make his company as inclusive from the bottom up. Beaupre worked with each and every one of his employees to create a cohesive company.
“It’s not my company, I always thought it was our company, and we work together,” he said. “They didn’t work for me because I worked with them. I’m hoping that attitude rubbed off and everyone felt like it was a group thing; a team thing. That’s how we approached everything and I think it worked well. I wasn’t a dictator, I was always looking for input around me.”
And he never lost the essence of being a hockey team member either. Beaupre worked with fellow alums Chris Dahlquist (Prudential Financial) in regards to insurance, and Tim Young who works with Garnland Inc., a distributor of material handling products.
Now on to more
Beaupre, who recently turned 57, sold his company to Sunbelt US in February 2018. What does he plan to do with all of his free time? A father to five (two sons and three daughters) and two grandkids, Beaupre said his new focus will be them, and maybe a bit of travel that’s not strict to an NHL or company schedule.
“Following a hockey schedule for 17 years you’re just totally focused on that,” he said. “And a lot of things in the business kind of restrict you from travelling a bit, so it’s nice as we transition to travel more, spend more time south in the winter, and just not have those big commitments over your shoulder.
“I think my wife is very ready for that, too.”