Furmano Foods announces the passing of F Foster Furman
Furmano Foods was blessed to enjoy the leadership of F. Foster Furman. Foster was actively involved in the business from age 11 in 1921, when he carried the wood used to fire the stove for canning the first thirty dozen glass jars of tomatoes.
He became Chief Executive of Furman Foods when the “Big Four,” Foster, his brother Bill Furman, and brothers-in-law Norman Geise and Jim Kohl purchased the business from JW Furman in 1944. Foster retired as CEO in 1977. During his 32-year tenure as CEO, the company grew from an annual production of 75,000 cases to 1.5 million cases, and employment rose from 15 to over 200 employees.
Foster and the “Big Four” built upon the legacy of JW and Emma Furman; faith, family and business (hard work), transforming the legacy into the foundation for future generations. Foster lived his faith through the business, never separated the two. A favorite family Scripture verse was Psalm 127:1 – “Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Foster believed that any success the company enjoyed was a result of blessings from our Heavenly Father. Foster embraced the Christian values of thankfulness, honesty, kindness, unity, and stick-to-it-ive-ness and passed them on to the next generation.
Foster was devoted to his family and was motivated to keep Furman Foods a family business. He was the driving force to encourage and instill interest in the next generation’s involvement. Foster had high expectations for himself and he made his expectations of the 3rd generation clear. He reminded them that less than 10% of family businesses survive the transition from 2nd to 3rd generation and held them accountable to carry on the success of the family business.
Foster had marketing savvy, which he inherited from his father, and was in tune with customer needs. As a result of listening to the customers, Foster started marketing tomato products under the Furmano’s brand. Furmano’s has become the primary brand under which the company does business, and in fact the company is now known as Furmano Foods. Additionally, as a result of Foster’s initiative, the company expanded into the food service trade, which has become the largest segment of the business.
Foster and the “Big Four” put their personal finances on the line, placing liens on their homes to purchase a Carvello Hydrostatic Cooker in 1966. Furmano Foods was the first company in the USA to purchase this cooker which was unique in that it could accommodate nearly any can size. The cooker was the hub of the Furmano Foods processing facility until it was replaced in 2005.
Foster Furman and the “Big Four” built a foundation for success. Under the leadership of the third generation, building on the established foundation, Furmano Foods has grown to over 9 million cases per year, while still employing just over 200. There are now 4th generation family members involved in leadership positions along with the 3rd generation.
In its 85th year, Furmano Foods faces the end of one era, Foster was the last surviving member of the “Big Four,” and it looks forward to the beginning of a new era as the transition from the 3rd generation to the 4th is about to begin.