Words: MASONRY Magazine
Photos: Logan Foster
Editor’s Note: In the first GEN NXT interview of the year, we sat down with Logan Foster, Operations Manager of Masonry Cosmetics. Logan was born into the masonry industry as his father, Don Foster, has worked in the industry for 40 years. Masonry Cosmetics is the new sponsor of the GEN NXT series, so what better way to start the year off than with an introduction to Logan Foster and his family’s company? We’d like to thank Logan for taking the time to talk with us and Masonry Cosmetics for sponsoring this important series.
MASONRY Magazine: Tell us about yourself.
Logan Foster: My name is Logan Foster. I’m 27. I work for Masonry Cosmetics, Inc. out of the corporate office in South Bend, IN. I currently serve as the Operations Manager. I just got married in October 2021 to my wonderful wife, Sarah. I’m currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in finance in my free time.
M.M.: How did you get into the industry?
L.F.: I was born into the industry. My father, Don, started working in the brick industry in the early 1980s. Over the last 40 years, he has worked and managed every aspect of brick making, manufacturing, and sales. He is the co-founder of the company I work for today, from running multiple brick plants to owning a brick distributorship. In one way or another, his passion for the industry was contagious. That is what got me into the industry today.
M.M.: Tell us about your role at Masonry Cosmetics.
L.F.: By title, I am the Operations Manager, but my actual role more closely resembles Junior V.P., 24/7 Tech Support, and Human Resources. I pretty much do whatever is needed to help our company thrive. I may or may not be using this interview and platform to pitch my promotion (laughs). For the last few years, I have been trying to modernize the company by developing new websites (in-house), creating and designing marketing campaigns, and growing our company’s brand. I will say that I am proud of the work we have done here at Masonry Cosmetics, and I can truly say that we care about the integrity of the brick industry.
M.M.: Did you always want to work with your family?
L.F.: No. Next question. Just kidding, still no. In high school, I wanted nothing more than to move far, far away and make a life for myself without hearing the comments: “Oh, you work for your dad,” like it was a crime to be in a family business. In my sophomore year of high school, I was already doing college visits and deciding if I wanted to get my med or law degree first. We visited Harvard, John Hopkins, University of Michigan, Pepperdine, and UC San Diego. I could not wait to leave. Over the next two years, I had the opportunity to be closer to the business. I witnessed the uphill battle my father had to fight pretty much by himself.
My father and his best friend/co-owner (Rick Conner) developed a proprietary product and process to change the color of brick after it was dried and fired. They created a product that will never compromise the brick’s natural integrity, breathability, water absorption, etc. They created a product that, when applied to a brick, the existing manufacturer warranty and guarantees are not compromised. I believe, and still believe, that I can use my bandwidth and my passion to help both Don and Rick make the brick industry better.
M.M.: Did your dad want you to go into the field, or did he ever encourage you to try something else?
L.F.: He encouraged me to do something else and follow whatever my heart desired. You would not believe how many people demeaningly asked if I was just “going to work for my dad” instead of getting a “real job.” Also, I cannot tell you how often I have heard that I was “making a mistake” or “wasting my gifts and talents.” He did not want me to continue to experience that or feel that added pressure. I ignored the criticism and critics. I am happy that I could tune out the noise and do what I felt like I needed to do. Our company’s brand has grown exponentially over the last few years, and I believe our current trajectory will continue.
M.M.: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
L.F.: Thanks for this question, my early comments may have paved the way for this (laughs), but I hope to see myself continue to climb the corporate ladder here at Masonry Cosmetics. In the next 5-10 years, I would like to see brick’s market share grow while growing Masonry Cosmetics’ next generation at home. Additionally, I would like to see myself and Masonry Cosmetics still involved with the MCAA and a dozen other organizations we are a part of today.
Organizations like the MCAA (especially the MCAA!) promote our industry and energize our industry and its workers. The MCAA represents 1,000 masons, distributors, installers, manufacturers, and growing. You have created an opportunity for everyone to build relationships that will last!
M.M.: Can you tell us about some of the challenges you may have faced in the industry thus far?
L.F.: Off the top of my head, two challenges jump right out at me. The first is personal/physical. On September 14th, 2009, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. I had surgery to remove the tumor on the 16th, two days later. During the operation, the surgeon made a mistake resulting in a hemorrhagic stroke in my thalamus. The initial results of that stroke left me flatlined on the table. I was “gone” long enough for the surgical staff to inform my parents that I was “gone.” With no other explanation aside from a miracle from God, I eventually awoke, not knowing how long I had been gone or what was going on.
Upon waking up, I found the entire left hemisphere of my body completely motionless, unusable, and without sensation. Through months of in-patient, around-the-clock rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic, I was able to regain some function in my extremities. Followed by years of outpatient rehabilitation, I was able to “appear normal.” But I am still far from normal. I have limited function in my fingers, hand, and arm. I often joke that I am a few overweight people intimidated by a buffet (laughs). To this day, I need a helper to get through the buffet to hold a plate for me. I share that example so you can imagine how intimidating it is not to be able to use your hands in an industry built around using your hands. It is a struggle to carry a few bricks inside a showroom. I can either carry the brick or open the door. I cannot do both (laughs).
My second challenge is professionalism. Professionally, how can a small company like Masonry Cosmetics hold brick manufacturers accountable when there is a color issue or color complaint when staining their brick is involved. Brick Manufacturers boast 100+ year warranties on their brick, but once those bricks are sold, in my opinion, they stop caring about the longevity of their products. They are allowing a paint-like product to be applied that can cause harm to their brick or jeopardize their 100+ year warranty. They would rather not know. Ignorance is truly bliss. Their ignorance, or just not caring, will hurt the small companies like Masonry Cosmetics, mason contractors (small and large), distributors/dealers, and the integrity of the industry altogether.
Masonry Cosmetics, like other mason contractors, works with a finished product. We are the last men and women on the wall. That is why we must advocate for the right materials to be used from the beginning of the manufacturing process to the end of the project.