Vaughn Beals

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Vaughn L. Beals, Jr.
Born 1928[1]
Massachusetts, United States[1]
Known for President, Harley-Davidson
Awards Automotive Hall of Fame distinguished service citation[2]
Motorcycle Hall of Fame (2008)[3]

Vaughn L. Beals, Jr. was Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson between 1981 and 1989, and chairman from 1981 to 1996.[3] He was inducted to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2008.[3]

Education and career prior to 1981[edit]

Beals earned bachelor's and master's degrees in aeronautical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1][4] He worked at North American Aviation and Cummins as engineer and executive.[5] He was CEO, chairman, and president of Formac (Washington Iron Works) in Seattle, a company that made large engines and logging equipment.[4][6]

He worked at American Machine and Foundry (AMF), becoming vice-president of the division that operated Harley-Davidson (bought by AMF in 1969).

Harley-Davidson buyout and leadership[edit]

In 1981, Beals and 12 other investors, including Willie G. Davidson, initiated a management buyout. Harley was bought from AMF for $65 million.[7][8][9][10]

During his leadership of Harley, he initiated the use of just-in-time delivery and other manufacturing reforms, after seeing these practices in use at the Honda Marysville Motorcycle Plant in Ohio.[11] He also directed creation of Harley Owners Group in 1983, today the world's largest factory-sponsored motorcycle club.[12]


In 2004, Beals and his wife Eleanore Woods Beals, an alumna, established the Woods-Beals endowed chair at Buffalo State College. It was the institution's first endowed chair.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b c "Vaughn Beals, Jr.", Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century, Harvard Business School, retrieved 2013-03-18 
  2. ^ "Awards — Distinguished Service Citation". Automotive Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2012-11-22. Retrieved 2013-03-17. 
  3. ^ a b c Vaughn Beals at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame
  4. ^ Greg Field (2002). "Leader of the Pack: Vaughn Beals". In Darwin Holmstrom. The Harley-Davidson Century. St. Paul, MN: MBI Publishing. ISBN 0-7603-1155-2. 
  5. ^ H. ERICH HEINEMANN (2 July 1973), "Soaring Economy Is Sparking Debate Over Its Consequences and Duration", The New York Times, p. 1 
  6. ^ Smithsonian magazine, August 2003, pg. 36 – "Wild Thing", Robert F. Howe
  7. ^ Harley-Davidson timeline: 1980s, Harley-Davidson Museum, retrieved 2013-03-17 
  8. ^ 2 YEARS OF LOSSES AT HARLEY-DAVIDSON, The New York Times, 26 January 1983, p. D.5, Vaughn and a group that included two sons of the founder of Harley-Davidson bought the company for $65 million. 
  9. ^ Jeff Bailey (20 March 1987), "Beals Takes Harley-Davidson on New Road", Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition, p. 1 
  10. ^ Kotha, S. & Dutton, J. Transformation at Harley-Davidson. In Strategic Management: An Integrated Approach by C. Hill & G. Jones, Fourth Edition, Houghton-Mifflin 1997. Also reprinted in Managing Organizations and People: Cases in Management Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, by Schuler, R. & Buller, P. South-Western Publishers, Spring 1999.
  11. ^ Matthew Ragas; Bolivar Bueno (2002). The Power of Cult Branding: How 9 Magnetic Brands Turned Customers Into Loyal Followers (and Yours Can Too!). Prima Venture. ISBN 0761536949. 
  12. ^ Woods-Beals Endowed Chair, Buffalo State Center for Excellence in Rural and Urban Education, retrieved 2013-03-18 
  13. ^ Woods-Beals Endowed Chair for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education, Buffalo State College, retrieved 2013-03-18 

External links[edit]