Fostermation was founded in 1971 by Morgan L. Foster in the basement of his family home in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Foster’s background in mechanical engineering influenced the company’s original concept of custom production equipment design.
The first major project Fostermation took on was for a national temperature control firm out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We were tasked with designing and building production equipment so that the firm’s production facility in Tennessee could manufacture the assembly of tubular heating elements.
A Reputation Built One Pin at a Time
During the developmental stage, our customer pivoted the project and instead ordered the production of 500,000 terminal pins from Fostermation in Meadville. Morgan Foster, with just a few short months to complete and prove out the machine build, obtained auxiliary and support equipment, leased and staffed his own production facility, and developed wiring and tooling suppliers.
The completion of this first project laid the foundation for Fostermation and established a relationship with a customer that still stands today.
After the success of that initial 500,000 terminal pin order, other heating element producers caught wind of Fostermation’s reliability and innovative processes. As Foster’s reputation grew, Fostermation became one of the major suppliers of terminal pins in North America.
Growth, Legacy, and Three Generations of Ownership
Diversification is the key to growth, so in 1979, Fostermation expanded by building a 10,000 square foot production facility. Fostermation began investing in Swiss screw machines in order to take on electronic, medical, injection molding, and automotive projects, to name a few.
Morgan Foster’s wife Cathy joined the company as Vice President, their daughter Susan came on board as Purchasing Manager in 1983, and Susan’s husband joined the company in 1987. After Morgan passed away unexpectedly in 1990, Cathy and Susan stepped up as President and Vice President until 1997 when Fostermation was sold to an acquisition firm in the midwest. After the sale, Susan was retained as General Manager and her husband John was promoted to Plant Manager.
After a hard-fought battle, Susan and John succeeded in buying the business back from its out-of-state owners in 2001. Fostermation was once again a family venture, now run by the second generation of the Foster family. The duo led the company toward a physical plant expansion, ISO9001 Quality System registration, the addition of CNC Swiss equipment, and continued automation and diversification.
Susan and John’s son, John Ritchey II, joined Fostermation as a machine operator after graduating high school. In 2015, they transferred ownership of the company to John II who continues to serve as President and a third-generation family owner. John has worked to expand the CNC Swiss department, continues to diversify Fostermation’s capabilities, and is passionate about his family’s legacy and the company’s roots in Meadville that will continue to grow.