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Our History

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L.B. Foster has a long history of providing a safe workplace for our employees, striving to be good stewards of the environment, and establishing strong and respectful relationships with our customers and communities.  These fundamentals have provided the foundation upon which we have managed our business for more than a century.

A History of L.B. Foster Company:  1902 - Present Timeline

1902-1920

Lee B. Foster was only 20 years old when he founded the company that bears his name. Financed in 1902 with a small $2500 loan from his father,  Foster began the company to service a transportation need he recognized while growing up around his father's oil business in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Foster saw that his father received many inquiries from mines, logging camps, and quarries about the availability of used train rail. Because no truck transportation existed at the time, permanent and temporary rail spurs were the only means for transporting heavy materials to and from jobsites near and far. New rail was costly and Foster saw an opportunity to resell rail that had been retrieved from abandoned and replaced railroads, and urban transit systems.

To encourage the sale of used material, Foster initiated a guarantee that set L.B. Foster Company apart from others and contributed greatly to his success: "If the material is not up to the standard represented, ship it back and we will pay the freight both ways." This dedication to customer satisfaction became a core company value and remains today at the forefront of the L.B. Foster customer service policy.

1920-1970

Lee's success attracted the notice of his three brothers, Reuben, Sydney and Byron. All eventually joined the company and the brothers worked well together. Lee changed his sole proprietorship into a four-way partnership. From its headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, L.B. Foster Company soon expanded with the opening of a new office in New York City in 1922.

In 1926, L.B. Foster enters the steel sheet piling market and opens its Chicago sales office.

For many years, Chicago had sales responsibility for the entire west and southwest.  Out of it grew the Houston office which Reuben A. Foster set up in 1946.  From there, the company opened an office in Los Angeles in 1953 and an office in San Francisco in 1961.

In 1967, the company opened a bridge component fabrication facility in Bedford, Pennsylvania to service the bridge construction market.

1970-1990

In 1973, L.B. Foster enters into an agreement with Nippon Steel to thread and finish oilfield pipe for use in oil rigs.  From 1973 to the early 1980s, the oil exploration market enjoyed astounding growth, creating a demand for finished pipe that often exceeded supply.  While other processors struggled to keep pace with the growth, L.B. Foster rose to the occasion, processing more than one million tons of pipe.

Lee B. Foster II, the founder's grandson, joins the company's sales force in 1974.

In 1977, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) acquired L.B. Foster through a leveraged buyout, and in 1981 took the company public trading its shares on NASDAQ stock exchange (FSTR).  

1990-2010

Lee B. Foster II is appointed President and Chief Executive Officer in 1990.  Foster provides a vital and ongoing link between the company's industrious past and its current and future success.

In 1997, the company acquired Monitor Group Inc. from Industrial Scientific Corp., which produced portable mass spectrometers used to measure gas compositions and concentrations, a new field of business for L.B. Foster.  Additionally, the company acquired Georgetown Massachusetts-based Precise Fabrication Corporation. The acquisition gave the company a regional manufacturing facility in the New England market and enabled the company to offer a comprehensive selection of components to the highway, bridge, and transit markets.  That same year, the company also purchased Watson-Haas Lumber Company, a supplier of iron clad and steel ties to the mining industry.

In 1998, L.B. Foster acquired the Geotechnical Division of VSL Corporation, giving the company a leading supplier of mechanically stabilized earth wall systems. In 1999, the company purchased CXT Inc., a manufacturer of engineered prestressed and precast concrete products used in the railroad and transit industries. This acquisition positioned L.B. Foster to better serve customers with a comprehensive line of mainline, transit and industrial rail products. The purchase of CXT also expanded the company into the production of recreational and multi-purpose precast concrete buildings.

In 2009, L.B. Foster forms a joint venture with Lally Pipe & Tube to manufacture couplings and accessories for the water well, oil country tubular goods (OCTG) and American Petroleum Institute (API) markets.

2010-Present

In 2010, L.B. Foster acquired Portec Rail Products, Inc. a publicly traded company that provided advanced solutions to rail freight and rail passenger operators. Portec brought to L.B. Foster several businesses including Kelsan Technologies, Salient Systems, Portec Rail Sheffield, Portec Rail Products, Ltd. as well as a Shipping Systems Division, Railway Maintenance Products Division and CI Logistics, a material handling business in the UK.  The newly expanded L.B. Foster now began offering a larger line of rail products that included new and relay rail, switches, track lubricating equipment, spikes, anchors, fasteners, concrete ties and wayside data collection systems. The acquisition also provided the Rail Products group with a larger international presence, expanded customer support, additional R&D capabilities and the well-earned goodwill of a century-old company.

In 2012, the company formed a rail products joint venture in India, creating Nagory-LB Foster, Ltd, as an expansion strategy to position the company for growth in the rail markets of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In 2014, L.B. Foster acquired precast manufacturer, Carr Concrete based in Parkersburg, West Virginia to add a diversified line of precast concrete products to it's existing CXT precast business.  The acquisition opened new markets and enabled an expanded reach to better serve its customers east of the Mississippi.  Later that year, L.B. Foster acquired the railroad tuning unit, FWO, of Balfour Beatty Rail GmbH.  The German business provides track lubication and switch roller equipment for international railway applications.

During 2015, the company bought two energy related businesses, Chemtec Energy Services, LLC of Willis, Texas, and Houston-based Inspection Oilfield Services (IOS).  The acquisitions gave L.B. Foster added exposure to the energy industry with service and solutions business models and added capabilities in engineered precision measurement systems and non-destructive test and inspection of tubular products, which complimented its existing position in tubular products and services.  Also in 2015, L.B. Foster acquired TEW Engineering, Ltd., of Nottingham, UK, an application engineering group that designs, manufacturers and supports applications for rail markets and other major industries.

Over the last century, L.B. Foster Company has grown from its original roots in Titusville, Pennsylvania to a global company that operates businesses that specialize in energy, transportation, and construction infrastructure solutions.  These groups manage worldwide customer support from manufacturing, distribution, and sales facilities located in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

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