L.B. Foster Company's (NASDAQ: FSTR) values have stood the test of time and have contributed to the rich history of our company for more than a century.
L.B. Foster has a long history of providing a safe workplace for our employees, striving to be good stewards of the environment, and establishing strong and respectful relationships with our customers and communities.
A History of L.B. Foster Company
1902 - Present Timeline
Lee B. Foster was only 20 years old when he founded the company that bears his name. Financed in 1902 with a small $2,500 loan from his father, Foster began the company to service a transportation need he recognized while growing up around his father's oil business in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Foster saw that his father received many inquiries from mines, logging camps, and quarries about the availability of used train rail. Because no truck transportation existed at the time, permanent and temporary rail spurs were the only means for transporting heavy materials to and from jobsites near and far. New rail was costly, and Foster saw an opportunity to resell rail that had been retrieved from abandoned and replaced railroads, and urban transit systems.
To encourage the sale of used material, Foster initiated a guarantee that set L.B. Foster Company apart from others and contributed greatly to his success: "If the material is not up to the standard represented, ship it back and we will pay the freight both ways." This dedication to customer satisfaction became a core company value and remains today among the values which drive a culture of customer service.
Lee's success attracted the notice of his three brothers, Reuben, Sydney, and Byron. All eventually joined the company and the brothers worked well together. Lee changed his sole proprietorship into a four-way partnership. From its headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, L.B. Foster Company soon expanded with the opening of a new office in New York City in 1922.
In 1926, L.B. Foster enters the steel sheet piling market and opens its Chicago sales office.
For many years, Chicago had sales responsibility for the entire west and southwest. Out of it grew the Houston office which Reuben A. Foster set up in 1946. From there, the company opened an office in Los Angeles in 1953 and an office in San Francisco in 1961.
In 1967, the company opened a bridge component fabrication facility in Bedford, Pennsylvania to service the bridge construction market.
In 1973, L.B. Foster enters into an agreement with Nippon Steel to thread and finish oilfield pipe for use in oil rigs. From 1973 to the early 1980s, the oil exploration market enjoyed astounding growth, creating a demand for finished pipe that often-exceeded supply. While other processors struggled to keep pace with the growth, L.B. Foster rose to the occasion, processing more than one million tons of pipe.
Lee B. Foster II, the founder's grandson, joins the company's sales force in 1974.
In 1977, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) acquired L.B. Foster through a leveraged buyout, and in 1981 took the company public trading its shares on the NASDAQ stock exchange (FSTR).
Lee B. Foster II is appointed President and Chief Executive Officer in 1990. Foster provides a vital and ongoing link between the company's industrious past and its current and future success.
During this period the company made a number of acquisitions that expanded the markets the company would serve. The company acquired Massachusetts-based Precise Fabrication Corporation. enabling the company to offer a more comprehensive selection of solutions to the highway, bridge, and transit markets. In 1999, the company purchased CXT Inc., a manufacturer of engineered prestressed and precast concrete products used in the railroad and transit industries. This acquisition positioned L.B. Foster to better serve customers with a comprehensive line of mainline, transit and industrial rail products. The purchase of CXT also expanded the company into the production of recreational and multi-purpose precast concrete buildings.
In 1998 the company begins receiving ISO: 9001 certification as it pursues high quality standards.
L.B. Foster sells its investment in the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) Railroad Corporation in 2007.
In 2010, L.B. Foster acquired Portec Rail Products, Inc. a publicly traded company that provided advanced solutions to rail freight and rail passenger operators. Portec brought to L.B. Foster several businesses including Kelsan Technologies, Salient Systems, Portec Rail Sheffield, and Portec Rail Products, Ltd. The newly expanded L.B. Foster now began offering a larger line of rail products and technologies for transit and freight rail operators. The acquisition also provided the Rail Products group with a larger international presence, expanded customer support, additional R&D capabilities, and the well-earned goodwill of a century-old company.
In 2012, the company formed a rail products joint venture in India, creating Nagory-LB Foster, Ltd, as an expansion strategy to position the company for growth in the rail markets of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In 2013, L.B. Foster's Coated Products business ventured into the custom coating segment with the acquisition of Ball Winch Pipeline Services, LLC., to further serve the natural gas and oil transmission markets, as well as to break into the water market. The company has since rebranded both entities under L.B. Foster Protective Coatings to coat straight line piping from its Birmingham, AL facility, as well as custom coating solutions out of its Willis, TX facility.
In 2014, L.B. Foster acquired precast manufacturer, Carr Concrete based in Parkersburg, West Virginia to add a diversified line of precast concrete products to its existing CXT precast business. The acquisition opened new markets and enabled an expanded reach to better serve its customers east of the Mississippi. Later that year, L.B. Foster acquired the railroad tuning unit, FWO, of Balfour Beatty Rail GmbH. The German business provides track lubrication and switch roller equipment for international railway applications.
During 2015, the company bought two energy related businesses, Chemtec Energy Services, LLC of Willis, Texas, and Houston-based Inspection Oilfield Services (IOS). The acquisitions gave L.B. Foster added exposure to the energy industry with service and solutions business models and added capabilities in engineered precision measurement systems and non-destructive test and inspection of tubular products, which complimented its existing position in tubular products and services. Also, in 2015, L.B. Foster acquired TEW Engineering, Ltd., of Nottingham, UK, a 100-year old application engineering group that designs, manufacturers and supports applications for rail markets and other major industries.
In 2016, L.B. Foster began efforts to fully integrate and rebrand all of its European businesses into one entity, L.B. Foster Europe. These organizational changes provided the foundation to further expand our capabilities in electrical and mechanical engineering expertise to better serve customers across the various markets in which we operate.
As the new decade began, in 2022 the Company acquired two UK-based companies, Skratch Enterprises and Intelligent Video (IV). Skratch provides innovative digital display solutions for retail, rail, and various other markets. IV is a developer of high-quality surveillance, security, and safety solutions supporting the UK rail network and other relevant market segments.
Leveraging the focus on growing the Company's footprint in concrete products, also in the summer of 2022, VanHooseCo Precast was acquired. They specialize in a variety of concrete solutions to support infrastructure and construction projects in the Tennessee area.
A Culture of Innovation and Technology
Our emphasis on innovation and technology development is changing L.B. Foster in many ways, resulting in investments directed at markets and businesses where significant growth opportunities exist. Continuous Sustainable Improvement (CSI) is engrained in our culture to improve efficiency, reliability, and throughput in our manufacturing and business systems. We have been awarded IndustryWeek's Best Plant Award three times at different manufacturing facilities. This recognition was a symbol of the dedication management has developed toward operating very efficient, high performing facilities with excellent quality systems.
L.B. Foster Company (NASDAQ: FSTR)
Over the last century, L.B. Foster Company has grown from its original roots in Titusville, Pennsylvania to a global public company that operates businesses specializing in Rail and Infrastructure products and solutions. These groups manage worldwide customer support from manufacturing, distribution, and sales facilities located in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The Company's former Shipping Systems Division and Precise Structural Products were sold in 2012. The former Geotechnical Division was sold in 2006. In 2019, IOS was sold. In 2021, the Company sold its Piling Products business. Finally, in 2023, Chemtec Energy Services and the Concrete Railroad Ties businesses were divested.