Chad Foster, 39
CEO/President, Gator Millworks Inc.
- Selected as the official millwork contractor for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome 400 level suite renovation.
- Producing cabinets in shop nine days after taking on 72 inches of water during the 2016 flood.
- Providing 20,000 square feet of wall paneling for the LSU Patrick F. Taylor Hall renovation.
Donating $12,000 and working with the architectural manufacturing management technology program at Pittsburg State University in Joplin, Kansas, helping advance the level of learning for students; also working with local middle and high schools to teach students about the millwork industry.
NAME ONE BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU PROFESSIONALLY
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
A major league baseball player.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?
Not so much the strangest, but I’m still blown away that I’ve been working at Gator Millworks the last 21 years and that I’m having so much fun doing it!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH IN BATON ROUGE, AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH THERE?
Chimes, and I always get shrimp and corn soup.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
The birth of my two girls—Alayna Foster (11) and Mia Foster (5).
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST FULFILLING MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
Overcoming the flood of 2016.
WHAT WAS YOUR PROFESSIONAL “AHA” MOMENT?
Knowing we were ready to expand and actually purchasing a 5.35-acre tract of land in 2015, so we could build the new manufacturing plant and corporate office of Gator Millworks.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY?
WHAT GIVES YOU PROFESSIONAL INSPIRATION?
Being allowed to work with some of the best people I know each and everyday at Gator Millworks.
WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN FROM A COLLEAGUE OR BOSS?
I was recently told this by a staff member: “There are two things in my life that I am 100% positive about, one was marrying my husband and the other is being able to work for Gator.”
ARE YOU ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? IF SO, ON WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOU MOST ACTIVE?
HOW MANY TEXTS DO YOU SEND ON AN AVERAGE DAY? HOW MANY EMAILS?
Probably be best to ask my wife Kelly.
HOW LOW WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR REMAINING PHONE OR COMPUTER BATTERY LIFE GET (IN %) BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ANXIETY ATTACK?
I never let them get low. I have a phone case with extra battery built into it so it doesn’t happen.
HOW MANY UNREAD MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APP AT THE MOMENT?
StepsApp. I try to make sure to walk 5,000 steps per day, but even this becomes difficult when you are sitting in meetings most days.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE PAST DECADE?
The first iPhone. Steve Jobs and Apple changed the way people live and work with the development this product
WHAT TECHNOLOGY DO YOU WISH WAS NEVER INVENTED?
None, many great things in technology come from failure of other technology. To get to greatness you must go through some things that are bad.
WHAT TIME DO YOU GET UP ON WORKDAY MORNINGS?
BREAKFAST AT HOME? BREAKFAST ON THE GO? BREAKFAST AT YOUR DESK? NO BREAKFAST AT ALL?
THE SAYING GOES: “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.” SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ARE YOU “BEING” TO MAKE BATON ROUGE BETTER?
I am “being” a Disruptor. I’m not afraid to challenge anything because being a disruptor is really viewing things through a unique lens. That means challenging the rules of our industry. I’ve changed the way I speak to clients, staff and others, so I can cut through all the noise and bring out the best in all of them. We must hire differently, because people with industry experience have been trained to do what is the norm. We also need to manufacture our products differently, so we set ourselves apart from the competition.
WHAT WAS THE BEST VACATION YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN?
San Diego this year.
FAVORITE GIFT YOU WERE GIVEN AS A CHILD?
WHICH TALENT OR SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
The ability to have a 26-hour day everyday, so I could have more time with my family.
WHAT’S A NICKNAME YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE FOR YOU?
WHAT ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT?
Nothing. I believe everything happens for a reason.
WHO FASCINATES YOU?
WHICH FICTIONAL CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
Knockout on the rocks from Sullivan’s Steakhouse
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BAND OR SONG?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
Any of the Fast and Furious series
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
Paul Walker before he died.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Never look backwards and surround yourself with good people.
I enjoy attending live concerts, especially 311 and Rebelution.
TELL US ABOUT A MOMENT THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE.
Marrying my wife Kelly on October 15, 2004.
WHAT’S THE NEXT BIG PERSONAL OR CAREER CHALLENGE YOU PLAN TO TAKE ON?
We are currently constructing a 76,000-square-foot building for Gator Millworks, so we can relocate all the production and office staff in the summer of 2019.
WHAT CONCERNS YOU MOST ABOUT THE FUTURE?
Federal government spending.
WHAT GIVES YOU THE MOST HOPE ABOUT THE FUTURE?
I’m excited for the future in general. “Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.”—John C. Maxwell
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR FUTURE FORTY UNDER 40 HONOREES?
Never be afraid to challenge your industry. Most importantly, no matter what, always do what is right.
DO YOU PLAN TO BE IN THE CAPITAL REGION FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Yes. I couldn’t imagine living in any other area of the country right now.
IF NAMED KING FOR A DAY, WHAT IS ONE CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE IN BATON ROUGE?
I would make an HOV Lane for east and west bound on I-10 that starts in West Baton Rouge and ends near O’Neal Lane. Doing this would only require a total of 36 miles of concrete to be poured. It’s the smartest thing we can do to keep the traffic that doesn’t need to stop moving through the city.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN BATON ROUGE; WHAT WORKS AND WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?
I feel the quality of life in Baton Rouge is great. The culture of the people is what makes it work. Our old ways keep things from changing too fast.
DO YOU HAVE A BUCKET LIST? IF SO, WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 THINGS ON IT?
Walk my daughters Alayna and Mia down the aisle at their wedding, attend game seven of a MLB World Series and purchase a vacation home in San Diego.