Geoff Foster needed a break. In spring 2001, he was in the last semester of his MBA studies at Wake Forest University. The program, he admits, was rigorous. With two little kids at home, he saw an elective course on entrepreneurship and thought it was the breather he needed.
Foster submitted an abstract on injection molding, which he had plenty of experience with during his work at several companies, including Becton, Dickinson and Co. and Tyco Electronics. Foster's professor, Jack Fenner, OK'd everyone's submission but asked to see Foster after class.
"My stomach hit the floor. I was like, 'Dammit.' I was just trying to fly under the radar.
"He said, 'I think you've got something.'
"I said, 'What do you mean, an A?'
"He said, 'No, it's bigger than that.'
"I really wasn't that interested in the conversation. I was like, 'OK, I just want an A.'"
But Fenner impressed upon Foster there were few minority-owned injection molders. Additionally, his would-be competitors that were minority-owned were focused on the Big Three automakers. This would open the growing Southern automotive market to Foster as well as sectors like medical, appliance and others.
"My paper was focused on automotive and medical because there are no minorities in the clean room space," Foster said.