Speaker interview: Larry Johnson, Foster Corporation

In our next interview, we were joined by Larry Johnson, President of Distribution at Foster Corporation.

Foster Corporation has been in business since 1989. They provide polymer solutions to the “critical application (FDA Class II and III)” healthcare market, including compounded/functionalized solutions as well as distributed medical material solutions. The business is global in scope and includes many of the top Fortune 500 medical companies, as well as many smaller and growing medical companies.

In the past, Larry's responsibility was to lead the Foster commercials efforts in compounding and distribution. Today, he is the President of the Foster Distribution business and also has reporting responsibility for the nonmedical Engineered Materials business.

How do you see the industry developing and growing in the next three-to-five years?

While the future right now is difficult to ascertain, Foster is certainly bullish in regards to our core medical market segment as this segment has shown consistent growth in the past because of sound segment trends such as population “graying” and technological advances in medical devices that enable practitioners to solve patient problems that have been difficult to solve in the past. We are also bullish on our efforts in nonmedical compounding business as we occupy a niche in this market where the need for “medium-sized” compounding capability and enabling infrastructure has enabled us to successfully acquire business in this market.


What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?

The biggest challenge right now is undoubtedly supply chain risk. This includes getting polymer products and functional ingredients needed to manufacture what our customers need. This issue is “top-of-mind” for our customers and, because our customers are concerned about it, Foster must be concerned about it as well. While material availability is a key risk element, supply chain risk is also affected by a difficult logistics environment which has an effect on material availability when receiving material domestic sources, but also when receiving materials from overseas sources. Foster has really focused on securing our material sources and communicating with our customers in regards this difficult issue.


In your view, what has been the most exciting development in the industry in the last couple of years? And why?

Because Foster is predominantly a medical material provider, we are very in tune with the developments regards to medical device technology. One of the main areas that has been trending in recent times is “device miniaturization”. Device miniaturization has made it necessary for Foster to look for, and find, polymer and functionalization technologies that meet the demanding needs of this trend. The processing needs of these applications can be challenging, and particle size of functionalization technologies have become critical to our success in making compounds that meet the needs of these devices.

Larry will be talking on the panel on 'Discussing the future of technical compounding' at the Compounding World Expo Conference 2022.