Don Foster, President of Masonry Cosmetics, Inc.
Director of Masonry Cosmetics Training Center
Youngest of five, married to Peggy for 32 years, and father of three, Don has always brought commitment, passion, and family values to everything he does. Now a leader and a voice for the industry he loves, Don found a career in the brick industry in what began as a college job one summer.
Don spent the first week of that job at the Hanley Brick Plant in Summerville, PA, completing several labor intensive assignments including a clean-out of the manganese grinding room. His hard work and upbeat attitude was apparent. Within 10 days he was moved to a better position: Shapes Maker. By summer’s end, Plant Manager Dick Morris asked Don if he would consider staying on full-time. Don agreed and became qualified for several positions at the plant: Brick Setter, Brick Packer, and Glaze Sprayman. Finally, after a few more years, he was promoted to Glaze Foreman.
The Glen-Gery Corporation bought out the Hanley Brick Plant. Don’s next promotion took him 75 miles east to another of their plants in Bigler, PA. Named Distribution Manager there in 1988, his responsibilities included production scheduling for the Bigler Brick Plant, promoting its products, and quality and inventory control.
In 1990, Don was promoted to Architectural Sales Representative, and moved to Michigan, covering most of the Michigan and Northern Indiana territory. Around the time of his promotion to District Sales Manager in 1992‒ an honorary title given to most of the reps ‒ he became known as "Brickman." But that’s a story you’ll have to ask him about.
In 1994, Don was promoted to the biggest challenge of his life: Sales Manager of the Ohio Region with oversight responsibilities for the operations of Glen-Gery's newest brick plant in Iberia, Ohio. By the time he arrived, the plant had lost nearly $20 million since its 1990 opening. It had an inventory of over 30 million poorly selling, aesthetically inferior bricks of various sizes and textures, and a plant capable of producing 60 million bricks a year, yet only putting out 30 million.
Creation of a sales-worthy product line was of first priority. This new line needed to be one that would put the Iberia plant on the map, that would be a product of quality, and one that could be easily replicated, one production run right after another.
Over the next six years, the Iberia plant turned itself around. Don reported to two remarkable people during that time whose integrity has influenced him ever since. One, from the production side, a true gentleman of the industry, was an Englishman, George Robinson, VP of Production. The other, also a true gentleman of the industry, was Ray Staub, VP of Sales. Because of the influence and regard of these two men and several others, Don was honored to be on Glen-Gery's Junior Executive team. He also was asked to oversee two other brick plants, one in Caledonia, OH, and the other ‒ the Hanley plant where it all began for Don ‒ in Summerville, PA.
Don fully enjoyed being part of such a wonderful team of people at Glen-Gery. In January of 2000 when Don departed, the Iberia Brick Plant had a profit of over $2 million, had shipped 63.9 million brick in 1999, and had 7.2 million of brick in inventory, most of which was sold and ready to be shipped.
Leaving Glen-Gery with fond memories and in good standing, Don took a different direction in 2000. At Rose Brick, a brick dealership in South Bend, IN, he came on as President overseeing Architectural Sales. In that position, he was glad to join up with two special people, brothers Jay and Boyd Harwood, owners of Rose Brick. Don insists it would be hard to find two better people or a better family to be associated with. The same is true of Todd Belden, owner of Belden Brick and Supplies, and his family. Don affirms that everyone at Rose Brick was special. It was clear he had joined a successful team.
Around the same time, Don also became Vice President of Masonry Cosmetics as half owner with another of his close friends, Rick Conner. Both companies ended up being managed out of the Rose Brick office in South Bend. Talented and smart, Rick is one of the best partners Don could have asked for. He feels blessed to be associated with so many quality business mentors and peers in his career.
Still living in South Bend, IN, Don oversees the Corporate Office and adjoining Masonry Cosmetics Training Center that just opened last fall. At that location, Rick and Don are training a nation of Certified Contractors to do what they do best, with hopes of soon sharing this process internationally.
During his career, Don has become an acknowledged expert in his field, appearing monthly on the radio with highly acclaimed Michael King, known as the Cajun Contractor. This nationally syndicated radio show educates and informs professional contractors, homeowners, and do-it-yourselfers in construction. Don has been with Michael King for over two years now.
Don has published articles in Masonry Magazine and Waterproof! Magazine and is known as a Brick Matching Expert in the Brick Industry. He also presents an AIA/CES registered course entitled “The Creativity of Brick Matching.” He earned his Certified Brick Specialist (CBS) certification from the BIA.
In 2022, Don won the C. Dewitt Brown LEADMAN Award for the Mason Contractor Association of America. Click here to see the award!