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Mike Foster: Fostering Relationships & Empowering Teams at Covia’s Cleburne Plant

Mike Foster: Fostering Relationships & Empowering Teams at Covia’s Cleburne Plant

At Covia, we have highlighted several team members whose dedication and leadership have shaped the success of the company and the environment or their community. In this Insights Blog, we share the journey of Mike Foster, Senior Plant Manager at Covia's Cleburne plant. From his early beginnings at the Guion plant to his current role, Mike's story is one of leadership, mentorship, community support, and a commitment to safety.

Journey to the Cleburne Plant

I began working for Covia 12 years ago at the Guion, Arkansas, plant. I had worked in the resin business before, so when a friend told me about a job opening at Covia near my hometown of Batesville, Arkansas, I knew I had to apply. Guided by my friend's recommendation, I decided to take a new path and ended up working at the Guion plant for about six years.

After six years at Guion, I accepted a new opportunity in West Texas as Operations Manager for Covia's Crane, Texas plant. However, living away from my family began to weigh on me. I was ready for a change, and so was my family. As fate would have it, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered some changes and an opportunity arose to transfer to Covia's Cleburne, Texas, plant, and I accepted the challenge of leading the Cleburne plant through those uncertain times.

As I took on this new role as Senior Plant Manager, I turned to my former boss and mentor, Mike Maloney, for guidance. Mike shared valuable leadership insights that helped me in making strategic decisions that empowered the entire Cleburne team, which ultimately helps us work exceptionally well together. We also implemented new data collection and monitoring tools that have helped us reduce machine downtime and optimize operations. We’re incredibly proud of the work we’ve put into building our team and the results we achieve together.

Today, almost five years later, we continue to exceed expectations, winning Covia’s 2023 President's Safety Award. This team understands the critical importance of safety to ensure the well-being of all team members. We have weekly meetings and safety is our top priority. We're always watching out for one another. I have also been inspired by Mike Maloney and his commitment to his community in Arkansas. At Cleburne, we are actively involved in various community initiatives, including supporting local schools, food banks, and providing financial assistance for scholarships. Fostering strong relationships with the local community is part of being a good neighbor, and it’s all connected to watching out for each other’s well-being. I take great pride in being part of this team and I’m excited to serve as a mentor and leader for future generations of Covia Team Members--just like Mike did for me.

The team we have is hardworking, dedicated, and incredible to work alongside because people are always looking out for one another and building each other up. I couldn’t be happier with the team we assembled and how they’ve helped us become one of the leading plants at Covia. As a plant manager, the very best days are the ones when you can celebrate the team’s accomplishments. At Cleburne, we have a lot of those days.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my wife and two kids. I have an 18-year-old son who’s graduating high school this June and an 8-year-old daughter. Our weekends tend to be pretty busy as they are both athletic and active. My son plays baseball and is currently in the Texas state playoffs, while my daughter plays basketball, softball, and competitive cheer. When my wife and I aren’t running around the country for tournaments, I enjoy going fishing and hunting. What makes it even better is that my kids love to go with me – so we can spend even more quality time together.

Community First

In addition to the great team at Cleburne, I’m also proud to be part of a company that is dedicated to the community around us. Covia gives back in various ways, from the upcoming Monarch Joint Venture project at Cleburne to the scholarships and donations that are revitalizing our communities. Being able to work with others to make a difference both in the plant and beyond is a great feeling, and I am looking forward to how our organization continues to grow and give back.

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