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.

Today

  • Foster’s serves thousands of lawn and garden retailers in the Upper Midwest with a knowledgeable, professional staff and 140,000 square feet of combined warehouse space in Waterloo and Rogers

 
     
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