Company History

1910s

  • Victor B. Foster starts “Producers Milk Company.” Becomes one of the largest cream suppliers in the nation

1920s

  • Acquires small coal company (“Foster’s Coal Company”) whose largest customer is the dairy.

1930s

  • Dairy fails during The Great Depression, but coal company survives.
  • Buys warehouse in downtown Waterloo, Iowa. Takes seed and mill business as tenant.
  • Buys seed inventory from struggling tenant, starting “Foster’s Coal and Seed Company.”
  • Expands to offer live goods, tools, and other garden supplies, purchased primarily from hardware suppliers.

1940s

  • “Foster’s Wholesale” starts as gamble – a truckload of redwood planters from California and a search for dealers to share it with.
  • Sons Jack and Victor H. (“Vic”) spend days on road selling wholesale and nights packing orders. Wife Vonna makes shipping arrangements. Son-in-law Don Willasson manages retail business.

1950s

  • Incorporates.
  • Divests itself of the coal business.
  • Relocates to new building in downtown Waterloo on Jefferson street.

1960s

  • Hires William E. Heine, first wholesale salesperson from outside family.

1970s

  • Relocates wholesale operations to new office and warehouse in a Waterloo industrial park.

1980s

  • Foster family retires. William E. Heine buys the business.
  • Closes retail store and devotes all efforts to wholesale.
  • Acquires assets of defunct Green Bay distributor. Opens distribution center in Green Bay.

1990s

  • Opens distribution center in Minneapolis suburb of Plymouth.
  • William E. Heine retires. Hands reins over to son William C. “Bill Jr.” and son-in-law John Lehman.
  • Consolidates Plymouth and Green Bay operations into new facility in Rogers, Minnesota.

2000

  • Family member, Jeff Engel, joins the company as Sales Manager.

2010s

  • Streamlined lawn and garden business into a single location in Iowa for better performance.
  • William C. Heine ďBill Jr.Ē retires. John Lehman named CEO. Jeff Engel named President.
  • Acquired specialty food business Bald Eagle Foods (www.baldeaglefoods.com)
  • Acquired turf professional and sports field business Pace Supply in Fairfax, IA.

2018

  • Jeff Engel becomes President & CEO.
  • Acquired Behm & Hagemann of Peoria, IL, makers of Lifetyme brand Grass Seed, through Behm & Hagemann LLC a wholly owned subsidiary of Fosterís, Inc.
  • Fosterís adds second warehouse location in East Peoria, IL
  • Lifetyme Seed Company forms (www.lifetymeseed.com) under Behm & Hagemann, LLC.
  • Fosterís exits the sports field supply business to focus on Lifetyme Pro Grass Seed and other professional turf products. Consolidates professional products to East Peoria, IL and Waterloo, IA locations.

2020

  • Lifetyme Seed Company becomes a stand-alone company. Fosterís, Inc. named the exclusive distributor of Lifetyme Seed Products.


Today

  • Fosterís serves thousands of retailers, turf professionals, landscapers and specialty food stores in the Midwest with a knowledgeable, professional staff. With over 100,000 square feet of warehouse and more than 300 suppliers, Fosterís offers retail and professional lawn, garden and landscape supplies and giftware. Fosterís is also the exclusive distributor of Lifetyme Grass Seed and Bald Eagle Foods.

 
     
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