EECO Asks Why Podcast

243. Hero - Jerry Foster, CTO at Plex Systems, Inc.

January 30, 2023 Electrical Equipment Company
243. Hero - Jerry Foster, CTO at Plex Systems, Inc.
EECO Asks Why Podcast
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EECO Asks Why Podcast
243. Hero - Jerry Foster, CTO at Plex Systems, Inc.
Jan 30, 2023
Electrical Equipment Company

Being on the front lines of game changing industry solutions is what our hero Jerry Foster lives every day!

In this inspirational conversation Jerry unpacks his personal journey through industry and some of his incredible experiences.  Working with the best minds of manufacturing puts him in a great position to see the hurdles firsthand and engineer solutions that truly make an impact.

Jerry gets real and talks about the big issues in manufacturing and steps that can be taken now to start down a path of correction.  He loves to debunk the myth of how most people get the idea of industrial facilities completely wrong. As he noted this isn't your grandfathers manufacturing plant anymore.

We get a peek into what Jerry does to unwind and how his passion for racquetball is a great stress reducer.  He has an amazing family and his personal why points to the True reason he gets up and serves daily.  It was an honor to hear Jerry's story and buckle up for an amazing journey. 

Remember to keep asking why!

Guest: Jerry Foster - Chief Technology Officer at PLEX

Fire Someone Today
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

PLEX Website

Industry War Story Submission: Send us a DM!

Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets

Show Notes Transcript

Being on the front lines of game changing industry solutions is what our hero Jerry Foster lives every day!

In this inspirational conversation Jerry unpacks his personal journey through industry and some of his incredible experiences.  Working with the best minds of manufacturing puts him in a great position to see the hurdles firsthand and engineer solutions that truly make an impact.

Jerry gets real and talks about the big issues in manufacturing and steps that can be taken now to start down a path of correction.  He loves to debunk the myth of how most people get the idea of industrial facilities completely wrong. As he noted this isn't your grandfathers manufacturing plant anymore.

We get a peek into what Jerry does to unwind and how his passion for racquetball is a great stress reducer.  He has an amazing family and his personal why points to the True reason he gets up and serves daily.  It was an honor to hear Jerry's story and buckle up for an amazing journey. 

Remember to keep asking why!

Guest: Jerry Foster - Chief Technology Officer at PLEX

Fire Someone Today
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

PLEX Website

Industry War Story Submission: Send us a DM!

Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets

00:00 Chris Grainger

Welcome to Eco s y. Today we have a hero conversation. I'm very excited to have with me Jerry Foster, who is the Chief Technology Officer at Plex System. So welcome, Jerry. 

00:14 Jerry Foster

Thank you, Chris. 

00:15 Chris Grainger

Thank you so much. Oh, I'm so excited to have you here, sir. I, I, I'm, I'm really looking forward to just hearing your story.

Do we always start these heroes conversations with just let, letting us know about your journey? So walk us through your journey. I, I want, I wanna learn. 

00:29 Jerry Foster

All right. So it's a long, it's a, it's a 30 year story, Chris. So let's go. Let's go. Okay. . So, I'm an engineer at heart. Um, I started my career as a programmer.

I know, I know. It's hard to believe, but I was a total nerd growing up. I know that's, uh, it's, it's hard to get your head around, but man, I was a nerd. I, I loved developing. Um, I started programming in seventh grade on a Commodore Vic 20, and when I saw that I could control what a computer does by typing in a few commands, I remember sitting back and going, Oh my goodness, this is so stinking awesome.

I'm gonna rule the world. I love it. Right, right. And so I spent my whole, my whole, you know, growing up, um, anything to do with, uh, computers and programming and, uh, just had a blast, uh, being a nerd. Although in high school, and it wasn't as much, I didn't have much of a blast being a nerd. Cause back then, if you played video games and you programmed, you were still like, uh, you're kind of on the fringe.

But, um, uh, but anyways, got past that and, and went to college. Got a computer science degree, uh, and then one year outta college, uh, I got a job building manufacturing applications for a forging company. And we built some really cool stuff for this forging comp, uh, company here in, uh, Southeast Michigan.

And, uh, there was five of us that, that. That, uh, were in the computer department and we built this application that controlled everything this, this manufacturing facility did. And, uh, it, it got to be so big, uh, with our customers and our suppliers. They would come in and they'd be like, this is awesome. Do you sell this?

Or, how could I get this? I would give you money for this. And finally we were like, May, maybe we should, maybe we should start our own company. So, um, yeah, so, so, uh, April Fool's Day 1995. I don't know why we picked April 1st of all days. Uh, but we started Plex Proper. We broke off from that forging company, and they stayed on as a customer.

It was a, you know, amicable, amicable, um, transition. And, uh, we started our own company and, uh, that was the 95, that was five of us, and we now have about, uh, 600, 600 employees. And we were acquired by, uh, Rockwell Automation, uh, uh, last summer. So, uh, that's what happened to the company and for myself through that time.

As the, uh, as the company grew, I kind of transitioned into more of a leadership role. . Um, and, and of course, you know, for a startup boy I did sales implementations, product management, uh, programming, anything that we needed, you know, we did it. We did it all. And, uh, many hats. Many hats, right? Many hats. Yes.

Which, yeah, which was good cause I started losing my hair and so I could cover that out, right? So, um, and then, . Um, then I started expanding my reach kind of outside the company as far as, uh, kind of an external face speaking at conferences. Mm-hmm. writing, writing articles. Um, and I really enjoyed that. And, um, along the way I ended up being in charge of, of the entire engineering department at Plex.

But, you know, as we grew, I realized two things. First, um, we had done some cutting edge stuff at Plex. We were first in the cloud. Um, we were one of the first to use realtime mobile devices in a factory. mm-hmm. . But as we move, as we moved outta that startup phase, um, we became really focused on the, the customer, which isn't a bad thing, um Right.

But we were really, we were really focused on features and capabilities, right? Because we had, uh, we had really small competitors like SAP and Microsoft, and so we had to, uh, we had to really make sure we were, we were doing good by our customers, but it meant we started to drift away from that innovation that had been our life.

So, um, I decided, you know what, I, I wanna make sure that we don't lose focus on that. So I promoted one of the strongest leaders on my team to be a peer, and he took over the engineers. And I took a smaller team and we've dedicated ourself to research and innovation, specifically what cutting edge technology is coming for manufacturing that we need to be prepared for, that our customers need to be prepared for.

And that's where I spent the last 10 or 12 years of my career researching, you know, really cool stuff like augmented reality, um, artificial intelligence, mind control devices, all kinds of cool stuff that we might someday find on the shop. That 

04:34 Chris Grainger

is so awesome. So, I mean, you're just, you're living a dream.

It just sounds like, yeah. Set the incredible story. Now you're, so, you're one of the original, what'd you say, five original founder of? Yep. Where did the name Plex come from? . 

04:47 Jerry Foster

That's a great question. Right. So it actually, the software and the company actually used to be called Plexus Pl, E x U S. Like, uh, okay, your solar, your solar plexus.

It means we're, Everything comes together in a centralized spot. Okay. And that's why we called it Plexus, because Plexus was the, uh, the centralized brain for everything that happened in a manufacturing company. But after we broke off on our own, we found out that there was another software company that had the name trademark, had the, the name Plexus, and we had to change the name and we didn't know, uh, plexus was such en ingrained in our brains and our customers.

We just shortened it to Plex. And that's how we got the name Plex. 

05:23 Chris Grainger

I was just curiosity to get the best of me on that. So I 

05:26 Jerry Foster

just, I had , you know what's ironic though? Yeah. What's ironic is there's now a, a, a media software company called Plex and uh, and a lot of people, sometimes they get calls and emails that, like, my, my media software's not working.

What are you gonna do about it? I'm like, oh, nothing. Right. I'm not, I'm not gonna do a thing . 

05:46 Chris Grainger

So I love. Well, thank you so much for unpacking your, your story. That was incredible. Yeah. Love, loved hearing that you're, you already mentioned you're, you're on the front end line, the front lines for innovation.

You're having wonderful conversations. You're hearing the manufacturing directly, the challenges they have. So what are you hearing? What, what are the, the, the primary challenges that industry is coming to you that you're, that you're trying to solve? . 

06:08 Jerry Foster

Yeah. So the thing that we are hearing over and over with, with over the last couple years and, and when we get our customers together and say, okay, what's going on?

Every single one of 'em, this is top of the list. Okay. Is, is labor shortage. Yeah, it's, and, and it's only gonna get worse. I, they're, they're, they're predicting that by 2030 there's gonna be 2 million open jobs, unfulfilled or unfilled jobs in manufacturing. And I've never seen a challenge like this. I've been in manufacturing my entire career and this cultural shift in work mentality, um, like we've seen the last couple years, it's been amazing.

Mm-hmm. and, and we're not going back. Right. I don't think we're putting the genie back in the bottle there, but I think manufacturing output and capability is gonna be, um, Effectively throttled until we can solve this. Mm-hmm. , which is gonna come in the form of, of both combination of, um, recruiting skilled workers, training up-skilling existing workers, and all the people parts of that as well as, you know, robotics, artificial intelligence and automation.

That's, yeah, that's, uh, that's, that's the only way we're gonna solve that. So, I 

07:11 Chris Grainger

mean, is there a stigma or something with manufacturing? Maybe, maybe debunk something for us. I mean most, a lot of people still think dark, dirty, dangerous. I mean, is that still out there and you know, for love, 

07:22 Jerry Foster

love the input here.

I think it is. I think that's one of the biggest myths that we have to, to overcome. It's still out there. Um, manufacturing is a dirty, dead end job. I think that's what people think. But this isn't your father's manufacturing anymore. And, and so we have generations of kids now. They've only known, um, technology and, and, and mobile and tablets, right?

And they need to understand that manufacturing is high tech now. It requires significant skills. It's challenging. It's much safer than it used to be, and it can be an extremely rewarding career. And, uh, it can really sustain, uh, your lifestyle and, and provide a very comfortable. Um, a life for you. In fact, in 2021, I just read this, the average pay and benefits for manufacturing workers now pay and benefits combined right?

Was over 96. $96,000. And, and that's, that's compelling. So, um, so that's important. And I think the other thing that's important that we continue to push is, is this STAT manufacturers perform almost 58% of all private sector r and d in this country. They drive more innovation than any other. So if you want technology, if you want challenge, if you want innovation, then modern manufacturing is where it's at.

08:36 Chris Grainger

Mm-hmm. , absolutely. What was that stat? 56. 

08:40 Jerry Foster

50. 58%. 58% of all private sector r d is driven by manufacturing. That's crazy. 

08:46 Chris Grainger

Unreal. Yeah. So yes, I mean, it, it's a, it's a definite need out there. I mean, and we're hearing the same issues with the labor shortage. And so maybe we got some listeners, and I'm sure they're just tuning into this cause they.

They say that we're talking to the chief technology officer at this software company and they want, they're looking for some, some advice, Jerry. If, if they're getting ready to enter industry, what are you gonna tell 'em? What advice would you give them to, to, for one, come into manufacturing, enter, enter this field, but, you know, help 'em along the way.

So, so, so be, be a big brother, mentor here and, and share some advice. 

09:19 Jerry Foster

That's funny. The first thing I was gonna say is, come on in. We need you. Right? That's right. That's exactly what you said. That's the first thing. So, um, if, if you're worried about like, where is my career going to where, where can I go in a career?

Manufacturing has got so many possibilities. The field is wide open and I would say two things. One, Many of these jobs don't require college education. There's so many areas that are exciting and fulfilling, technically challenging, um, that you can start with either, either right outta high school or maybe with some vocational training, and you're not saddled with tens or hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt.

That you would with a college degree. So there's a track there, and I, I don't know if you've of ever listened to Mike Rowe and his Dirty Jobs podcast and TV show, and he's doing a great work trying to remove the stigma from hard work and, and, uh, manufacturing and, and the, the career you can have there without, uh, college education.

So that's one thing I would encourage you. Mm-hmm. encourage kids, uh, or people to consider. The other is though, if you do wanna go to college, That's why it open. Also because along with the traditional, um, careers like engineering, mechanical engineering, or programming, um, you now have stuff like robotics, artificial intelligence, additive printing, cybersecurity, all of these awesome hardcore tech fields that are so critical and important in manufacturing.

And so, mm-hmm. , if you wanna go that route, um, A wide open field, uh, name your salary, name your place, it's the field is ripe right now for you to, to, you're in the driver's seat in manufacturing if you have those skills. So, um, pursue those. So my advice is either pursue that vocation, pursue that area of study in college, whichever you wanna do, and there's gonna be a job in the field waiting for you, uh, that will sustain you.

11:02 Chris Grainger

Yeah, and I think to your point too, whether you go vo-tech or whether you go that the technical route through like engineering. Again, you can, these are transferrable skills. Wherever you want to live in this world, you will have employment. Exactly. And, and actually really good employment, right? Yes, 

11:17 Jerry Foster


And we're talking to customers and they're like, we've had open recs for, you know, a hundred, 150 employees, dozens here, dozens there, all in it. They just can't fill 'em. Mm-hmm. good jobs. Good jobs. Health insurance, life insurance. 401k livable salary. So go for it guys. 

11:35 Chris Grainger

We need you. Well, I mean, just to pu pull on this a little bit more, what can the manufacturers do?

You, you, you talked to a lot of them. Yeah. To, to, to give more exposure to the plant floor and to the changes. Cuz so many of 'em mean, I've grown up going into manufacturing plants, you know, week in, week out and you have to have passage. You have to write, have to write ppe. I mean, it's, they're sometimes they are dangerous.

You gotta make sure that you can't just be walking around these. , but what can, what could those manufacturers do to open up the door or, or give a peek inside more to let, let the next generation see. Right. Hey, this is what it actually looks like. 

12:07 Jerry Foster

So there's a couple things. Uh, I I'm seeing, um, kind of a para organizations like the National Association of National Association of Manufacturers, or, or n a m really start to have, uh, have an impact here by kind of helping manufacturers and taking that load off them, um, and, and driving the sort of, Uh, programs that we need to help kids realize what manufacturing is.

And so they're taking some of these cla uh, classes into the schoolroom with like miniature portable factories or portable lines and actually setting these up in facilities where kids can actually start to use them. Um, but I actually saw something this summer y kind of along the same lines, but different.

That was so cool. I was at the, uh, um, International Manufacturing Technology show in Chicago. Huge show. Found 15,000 people there. Tons of manufacturing, uh, operations and technology on display. Uh, just a huge conference and day after day, I saw, uh, teachers, uh, parading their classrooms through this conference, uh, to show them.

what was happening in manufacturing. And I think that the organiz organizers of the conference were, were helping with that. I think there was a program that they had built so that teachers could bring their kids. Of course, what teachers doesn't wanna get their kids out of the classroom and kind of hand 'em over to someone else for a while.

Right. And the kids lo the kids love getting out and they are walking through these huge, um, expo halls with, with these massive machines and the technology and the computers and the tablets and the robotics. And it was just a. Cool thing I'd never seen before. I've been going to conferences my whole life and that was a, a thing that I thought was really awesome, getting those kids out there and seeing what was, what was available.

So, um, so I think manufacturers, um, helping out these para organizations to do what they do best is going to really help, uh, kind of drive that, uh, uh, drive that desire into, into our, our kids as they figure out what they wanna do. I. 

14:03 Chris Grainger

I also think there's a, there's an opportunity for the parents, you know, at the, at the dinner table.

Yeah. Having conversations with kids and embracing, hey, you know, maybe taking the initiative and show that type of stuff, or, yeah, you can reach out to a lot of these manufacturers and, and they have. Open, uh, tours and plant days where you can actually get a peak inside, but just Yep. You know, celebrating it more versus, you know, it, it, the whole stigma's just gotta change.

We, we need to celebrate this, this manufacturing journey that many would take versus, cuz again, a four year degree, it's not for everyone, but there are opportunities to get in these manufacturing plants and have a wonderful career. 

14:38 Jerry Foster

Right. And I've seen, I've even seen, uh, Plex has done this and I've seen another, a number of manufacturers do this.

If they started, uh, first, uh, hands-on supporting, uh, first Robotics. I don't know if you've ever heard of First Robotics, which is a great entry point into robotics. Right. And what they do. And uh, and it's a great, it's a great segue from, from that into just doing what you do there. Hey, I can do that for a.

I can build robots for a living, right? And, and, and see that actually do something really awesome. And so it's a great way for manufacturers to get hands on in that, in that effort. 

15:13 Chris Grainger

I love it. I love it. What the last question I got for you on the professional path and then we'll then we'll get, then we're gonna get off and, and talk to you outside of work, but.

From a professional standpoint, when you had a great day and you crushed it, you're, you're coming home, you're feeling good. You, you have so much joy in your heart. What did you do that day? What, what did you accomplish? 

15:32 Jerry Foster

So it's interesting, and I, and I'll answer that kind of in the progression of my career, cuz like I said, um, I started as a programmer, right?

So, When I was a programmer, that was easy. When I would finish a solution and I would show the customer and they were like, oh my goodness, this is awesome. This is gonna make my life so much easier. Thank you. I was like, Ugh. that I, I, I was on cloud nine, right? But when I moved away from that, that, that kind of building block kind of, of job of, of programming and started doing, uh, leadership and speaking, I, I had to find satisfaction in more, um, intangible moments, if you will.

Mm-hmm. . And so, uh, And so that was kind of a journey in the middle there of my career. Um, not that I was feeling unfulfilled, but it was different. I had to figure out where do I find, uh, that satisfaction? And these days, one of the things I love the most, It's when I give a talk or a presentation and I'm able to present like a complicated technology or a concept in a way that makes sense to my audience.

Um, they're usually hardcore manufacturers. They're usually extremely smart, but maybe not always tech savvy. Mm-hmm. and, and, and drawing that. Those connecting the dots for them. And those lights go on and they start asking questions and they come up, up to me after the, the talk and they have all these questions and I feel like that was cool.

I enjoyed that. I loved it, and, and I feel really good about doing that. Well, I can totally 

16:54 Chris Grainger

see why. I mean, you def, you've connected so many dots. Just for me, one of doing these podcasts. This has been great. Oh, wonderful. Jerry . Well, thank you. So, so let's talk, let's, let's get off the professional path for just for our last little bit together and talk about you outside of work, outside of your career at Plex.

What's, what's some hobbies you got going on? 

17:10 Jerry Foster

Oh man, I love, uh, I love riding motorcycles. I got a big motorcycle that I ride with my wife quite a bit. Enjoy that. I love playing video games. Um, I know that's a shocker. Um, but one of the, one of the hobbies that I love the most is playing racquetball. Uh, I love the sport.

I play it whenever I can. I play in several state and national tournaments every year as well as my local club. Um, you know, it's unfortunate it was huge in the United States in the seventies and eighties. Absolutely huge. And I kind of got in after that, so I missed that. Right. It's kind of a dying, it's kind of a dying sport right now.

Um, it's mo it's mostly played by, uh, old men. So on, on nights when we play, we spend half the time playing and then the other half of the time sitting around complaining about whatever injury that we're currently recovering from or trying to recover from. So, so, yeah. So that's what I do for. 

17:56 Chris Grainger

Okay, well, I've ne never hit the racquetball chord, but I may have to try that.

No, you should. I am curious now. I'm, I'm a motorcycle guy myself. So what type of motorcycle are you riding? 

18:05 Jerry Foster

So I just, uh, I just bought a 2022 Indian Pursuit, uh, Indian. Okay. Yeah. Um, I had a gold wing that I really loved. Um, but, uh, I now have the pursuit. It's a, it's a big touring, uh, touring machine that Indian just put out.

It's first. I 


18:21 Chris Grainger

I haven't heard of that one. So is it like a gold wing, like cruiser? Cruiser 

18:24 Jerry Foster

style? It's more like a, you could compare it to a Harley, uh, road Glide, so it's 

18:30 Chris Grainger

mixed. Oh, okay. What, I have a, I have a Harley Road king man, so, uh Oh 

18:34 Jerry Foster

yeah. Very similar to that. 

18:35 Chris Grainger

Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. Sure. 

18:36 Jerry Foster


Boy, I. Next time I'm down. Uh, your way, Chris. We'll, uh, I'll bring the bike and we'll, we'll do a ride down there. I know it's beautiful riding down there. We, 

18:44 Chris Grainger

if, if we can hit the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll love it. 

18:47 Jerry Foster

You'll love it. Yeah. I mean, I went to school in Virginia. I went to school in Virginia and that Blue Ridge Parkway was just one of my highlights of, of going to school there.

It was beautiful. Where, where'd you go to school at Virginia? Uh, Liberty 

18:56 Chris Grainger

University. Oh, yeah. Oh, you lot of my, my wife went to Liberty. Oh, cool. And, uh, yeah, so we, we we're up in Lynchburg all the time. My sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, they all live up in Lynchburg, so, Any chance we can get to go to ou, we're gonna do that.

19:10 Jerry Foster

That's awesome. Yep. Yep. Fantastic. Good deal. Good stuff. 

19:13 Chris Grainger

Well, at Eco Westmont, we always like hearing about family too. Jerry, so what would you like to share with us about your family? I, 

19:19 Jerry Foster

I have an awesome family. I'm very blessed. I've been married to my wife, uh, Angie, my wonderful wife for 31 years. Um, I come from a long line of couples that are married forever.

I think they're just too stubborn to, to give up. My, you know, my grandpa and grandma were married for 65 years. Um, uh, Angie's mom and dad have been married for 57. My mom and dad are still going strong at 55. My dad once told me, he said, son, your mom and I would've been divorced a long time ago, but neither one of us wanted to take the kids

Okay. I'm not sure how to take that dad, but thanks. Right, right. But, uh, but speaking of kids, uh, we have four. We have four kids. I wanted six kids and my wife wanted four, so we compromised with four. Right. Um, that's how that works. So, uh, that's right. Three daughters. That's Yep. Three daughters and a son. Um, and I've loved every stage, even the teenage years were a blast, to be honest.

They were wonderful. We had a great time. Um, but we have successfully booted them all outta the house as of just this summer. And so we are now officially empty nesters. So I love it. Although it's different. Um, it's. It's quiet. Yeah. 

20:21 Chris Grainger

So now is your son the youngest? 

20:24 Jerry Foster

Yes, he is. So he's got, my wife is his mom and three daughters.

Uh, as his mom also, they can't help but to mother him, uh, growing up. Right. It was just comes natural. Our son was, he was pretty laid back. He took it in stride, but we often had to tell the girls we're like, okay, let's review. You are. Sister and we are the parents. Right, right. Got it. Right . 

20:47 Chris Grainger

Yep. Just, just have a good alignment check.

That's right. Exactly. 

20:50 Jerry Foster

Yeah, exactly. . So 

20:54 Chris Grainger

thank you for sharing so much about your family. I'd love to hear that sounds. Thank 

20:57 Jerry Foster

you. And one more thing. Yes, Siram. My first, first grandchild, uh, around Thanksgiving. We'll be coming. Oh, awesome, 

21:04 Chris Grainger

awesome, awesome. Well, that we, we, we'll be praying for a healthy delivery there.

Thank you. Part of part of the, the conversations on the Hero with our heroes, we love to hear like, what do you enjoy? Podcasts, books, uh, just resources that you enjoy consuming. It could be just for fun. It could be, uh, you know, for personal professional development, right? But just what do you enjoy listening?

Or, or 

21:25 Jerry Foster

watching. Yeah. So I'm not a big podcast listener. Um, okay. I, I find myself getting impatient. Like I feel like if I'm reading this, I could skip to where I needed, where, you know, the interesting part right away. The podcast. 

21:37 Chris Grainger

Podcast. So, so the podcast is, is, is two times speed. I never listened. I've never listened to any podcast at one time.

21:45 Jerry Foster

It's always been time. It's fascinating, Chris. It never crossed my mind. I'm gonna have to do that, so, uh, that's a secret. Yeah. So although, um, uh, there was, there is one podcast that I think has been very valuable. So it's called A Manufacturing Happy Hour with, uh, Chris Luie. So, oh yeah, I'd reco recommend that if, um, but I love to read.

And I love to read professionally, I love to read for entertainment. Um, one of the best books that I've ever read is called Fire Someone Today by Bob Pritchett. Okay. It's kind of got a pro provocative title, but there are some fantastic nuggets in there. Um, especially if you're a small business owner. Uh, but even if you're a manager or you lead people,

Um, that's a great book. Um, another book that was very influential, influential to me was, um, it's called peopleware Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco. Okay. Um, fantastic book. It really shaped how I thought about managing people. Um, very influential. It's a bit data though. I'm curious if any, if any of your listeners out there read it.

I'd love to hear. I, I'm not sure how it, um, I'd be interested to see how it translate to the kinda. Work climate that we find ourselves in. Okay, maybe I should read it again. Uh, but, uh, but yeah. And of course, as a person of faith, I have a huge library of religious books that I've enjoyed, um, with the Bible, of course, being, uh, one of the most read influential books in my life.

Um, and then entertainment. I love everything. I'm all over the board. Sci-fi to Louie Lemore. Um, I just finished doing the graphic novel, and so, uh, I've, uh, any, any fantasy war. Yeah. Uh, you know, any fiction I love, I love fiction. Good. 

23:17 Chris Grainger

I love it. I love it. Well, thank you for sharing that and we'll make sure we put some links in the show notes for those few books that you mentioned.

Okay. So listeners, they wanna check that out. They can, they can go grab it. So, awesome. Almost at here at the end. Jerry, we, we do a lightning round at the very end of our, uh, hero conversation. So if you're willing to play along, we'll just jump in and have a little fun. Love it. Alright, so what's, what's your favorite food?

23:37 Jerry Foster

Ah, so my best comfort food is grilled cheese, perfectly toasted with hot tomato soup on, on a cold, cold day here in Michigan. Nothing. 

23:47 Chris Grainger

Man. Alright. Yep. I'm right there with you buddy. Right there, right there with you. Yep. Yep. How about, how about drink? It could be soda juice. What, what, what's your favorite type of name that you like drinking?

23:58 Jerry Foster

Diet Mountain Dew. Diet Diet Dew. I know, I know all the nerds out there, like diet, what? You know. Um, a couple years ago I was, I was drinking three cans of Mountain Dew a day, and, uh, I was not in a good shape and, uh, I, I lost 65 pounds and I had to, uh, I had to switch over to a diet pop. So that's why I'm, I'm tired.

So, so you, 

24:16 Chris Grainger

so you lost 65 pounds by By, yeah. Wow. That's great, man. Just cutting out sugar. Yep. Just by cutting out sugar. Yep. Wow. And playing a lot of racquetball 

24:25 Jerry Foster

and playing. Exactly. Yeah, exactly right. 

24:29 Chris Grainger

Very cool. Very cool. Now this is a funny little question here. What's on your nightstand? 

24:35 Jerry Foster

So, um, remember I talked about old men in racquetball?

Yeah. So on my nice stand is Biofreeze, uh, tiger bomb, uh, volter, and I'm not kidding. These are all the ointments and lotions I have to put on my back and my elbows and my knees before I go to bed so I can sleep. So, right. I, 

24:52 Chris Grainger

I mean, I think once you get to 40, you have to have like a Tylenol all smoothie in the morning have to keep going.

Right. You know? Exactly. So like that. How about your, how about the, uh, your favorite app on your phone? 

25:05 Jerry Foster

Um, it's kind of an odd one. I have a app that I love. It's called My Radar. And, uh, here in Michigan, the weather changes constantly and I hate going to a website and trying to find, I always find it more valuable to use my radar cause it shows me what the radar, what's going on right now.

Where I'm at. Yeah, where the clouds are, where they're coming. It's raining or snowing and uh, I use it all the time. Okay. Very cool. Especially, especially riding motorcycles, I find it very valuable. Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah. There's 

25:28 Chris Grainger

nothing worse than being on a bike in a, in a, in a, in a rainstorm, so, oh, for sure.

For sure. Alright, couple, couple. Let's do a few more. How about a, a guilty pleasure. Do you have any guilty pleasures 

25:37 Jerry Foster

out there? Oh, yes. Car m and Ms. Ooh. Oh, okay. I have, I, I have to hide those bags all over the office. I, it's, I eat way too many. It's, I sometimes I just bought, I shouldn't say I just bought the five pound bag today at the store, so.

25:55 Chris Grainger

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I just don't have willpower power when it comes to, to m and ms. I, I don't know. It's, you know. 

26:02 Jerry Foster

I hear ya. I hear ya. . 

26:04 Chris Grainger

Alright. What's, what's your favorite, uh, your favorite movie? All the. 

26:07 Jerry Foster

SK redemption. Nice. Um, it's not, it's not only one of the best movies ever, just on its own merits. Right.

But there's some very strong religious analogies there with the life of, of, of Jesus Christ and Andy Def, uh, Dain, the, uh, the, the lead character in the movie. Yeah. Nice parallels there. That adds kind of a nice overlay to the movie that you might not realize, and it's very meaningful. I, I love that movie.

26:29 Chris Grainger

Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. How about, uh, a show or series? Any, any, anything that should keep that you're watching or you're 

26:35 Jerry Foster

keeping? So, not that I'm keeping up with, but um, the best TV show ever made is a sci-fi show called Firefly. Um, and my wife and I watch it over and over regularly and, uh, nice, nice. I will always, I will always hate Fox for canceling that series prematurely.

I, I, I will bear that grudge till I die. I hear you. I hear you. So 

26:59 Chris Grainger

you, you've mentioned Faith a few times. Have you watched any of the Chosen yet? 

27:03 Jerry Foster

I have, uh, it's on my list. I've, you, I've had multiple people tell me I need to, to watch that, so I, I will. All right. That, 

27:10 Chris Grainger

that is a must. So that's, you know, I'm not getting paid to say that that is just a must from one brother to another.

So anyway, there you go. Check that, check that one out. And the last question for you, Jerry, this is a very easy one, but this, you, there is a right or wrong answer, dogs or cats. Oh dude, . 

27:27 Jerry Foster

We live on a hobby farm. I can't make that choice. We've . You know, we growing up, I mean my kids growing up, we had goats, chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits, lizards, gerbils, hamsters, birds, fish, honeybees, and um, with the kids outta the house, we've gotten rid of all the animals and we're down to one solitary cat, Simon, who thinks he owns the place.

So at the moment, it's a cat. 

27:51 Chris Grainger

That's, sorry you? Yeah. Hey you. You bad at nine out 10. It's all good. Okay. 

27:54 Jerry Foster

Alright. Okay, good. I'm glad. I'm glad you can still talk with me, . Oh goodness. 

27:59 Chris Grainger

I love it. I love it. This has been a wonderful conversation. We always wrap up eco, that's why with the Y Jerry. So if somebody wants to know what your personal why is, what are you gonna tell 'em?

28:09 Jerry Foster

Uh, my personal why is, is twofold. It's one to, to point people to, to Jesus Christ, and, uh, to use the, uh, answer to all the questions that plague you. And secondly is to be the best father, uh, and husband that I can be to my family. 

28:25 Chris Grainger

Love that answer, Jerry. Love it so much. So thank you so much. We'll make sure we, we, we put the connection, all the links in our show notes, particularly for Plex, for all the resources you pointed out here today.

But is there anything else you'd like to share with our listeners? 

28:37 Jerry Foster

No, I think we covered it. I'm, I'm happy. That was fun. Well, we had a, I had a, 

28:41 Chris Grainger

I had a blast. Thank you so much for everything that you shared and for being all right, being our hero here on ecos y. 

28:46 Jerry Foster

Well, thanks Chris. Thank you so much. Have a good day.

28:49 Chris Grainger

All right, you too. That was a phenomenal story with Jerry. Just the, his, the whole way that he, his career has evolved to the point now he's, you know, over innovation talk with manufacturing leaders. Just being an inspiration to so many people. I love his heart, his family, all the wonderful thing he has going on as well as, Hey, racquetball.

It sounds like that's a lot of fun. We're we're not gonna hold it against him that he got the, the dogs versus cat question wrong. That's okay. We, we'll let that one slide. But seriously, Jerry, just a, just a, a wonderful man. Really enjoyed that conversation, so I hope you did as well. Found some inspiration there.

Maybe some ideas on things you could do in your. It start really moves to move things forward and lean in. Cause we need more people in manufacturing that are embracing the idea of getting out and understanding how you can make an impact. There is so many different opportunities. So get inside these plants, have the conversations with these leaders like Jerry, and let's learn and let's grow.

If you're, if you are enjoying ecos, why? I would encourage you to share it with other people. You know, go to your phone right now, hit that button, share that text message that makes all the difference in the world, and then while you're there, give us a five star rating. Write a review, two sentences.

That's all you gotta do. You could just say, this is a wonderful podcast. I love it each and every week. That would be wonderful. That would make all the difference in the world to. So guys, I hope, hope you enjoyed this. Hey, remember, eco s y is all about people and ideas over products. We're not pushing any sales to you, we're just trying to inform you with information that's gonna help you make better decisions in your plants in the future.

Have a great day. Come back next week for more wonderful insight from, from the heroes of of industry, and remember to keep asking.