Ostertag Pays Tribute to Foster

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BOSTON--In a speech that was in large part a tribute to Tom Foster, founder of Foster & Gallagher Inc. Peoria, IL, current president and CEO Robert A. Ostertag Jr. discussed how the company grew from Foster's vision to its current size and credited employee ownership and strategic planning with contributing to its success.


The company, which started as a gift direct marketer, had 476 million in sales last year from its gardening, gift, and children's catalog businesses, Ostertag said June 4 during the closing luncheon of the 15th annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition here. As a company majority-owned by its employees through employee-stock ownership programs for the past four years, Foster & Gallagher has found that employee-ownership benefits original owners and employees alike. Original owners gain liquidity and employees gain pride in the company and share in its success, Ostertag said.


"The management team had become more astute as to alternative planning, investment decisions and risk-taking," he said.


Also, the company has found success through the institution of formal strategic plans begun by its Michigan Bulb Co., a garden catalog. The Michigan Bulb Co. has doubled its sales since beginning strategic plans in 1993, Ostertag said.
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