BIDWELL — Gallia County native and longtime business leader Bob Foster has purchased the recently vacated Bob Evans Farms transportation facility in Bidwell, and he plans to eventually grow the business to include a greater number of employees.
Officials with Bob Evans Farms, Inc., confirmed the sale of its former transportation center in Bidwell, Ohio. The transportation facility and surrounding land was recently sold to Foster Sales & Delivery, a Gallia county-based distribution company. The announcement came Wednesday afternoon.
Bob Evans announced in May it would move its trucking operations to Springfield, Ohio, to be closer to its distribution center. In November, all maintenance, repair and dispatch operations for the company transitioned to the new facility, as well as more than 60 employees.
“We’re pleased that through this partnership, the transportation center site will find new use as a thriving center for jobs as the Foster organization continues to grow in Gallia County,” says Bob Evans Farms Executive Vice President of Human Resources Joe Eulberg. “We’re doubly pleased that we can use some of the proceeds to fund training programs which offer residents of southeast Ohio development opportunities in one of the country’s largest growing industries — restaurants and hospitality.”
Foster told the Gallipolis Daily Tribune that he started Foster Sales & Delivery with his first truck in 1981. Since that time, he has expanded the business to 45-50 employees, mostly truck drivers who haul aluminum, steel and automotive parts all over the country. He said he currently owns approximately 10 acres and this acquisition will essentially double his usable space and will also provide adjacent land to develop in the future. The new purchase includes approximately 77 acres total.
“We were pleased to work with Bob Evans Farms to obtain a new facility and space for expansion,” says Bob Foster, president of Foster Sales & Delivery. “As a fellow trustee at the University of Rio Grande (URG) with Joe Eulberg, we think that utilizing a portion of the proceeds from this sale to benefit Gallia County and the University, as well as other educational efforts around the state, is a great tribute to company founder Bob Evans.”
Foster said the newly purchased facility and land — located adjacent to his existing facility — will initially be used to park additional trucks, but he plans to expand in a way that will allow for additional employees in the future.
A significant portion of the proceeds from the sale of the transportation center will go to the newly created Bob Evans Farms Foundation, which is intended to carry on the philanthropic spirit of company founder Bob Evans. Evans recognized the value of education and invested in the state’s youth through college scholarships and educational programs like 4-H, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and FFA.
In keeping with Evans’ commitment to education, one of the first grants will be to the University of Rio Grande for scholarships in the Bob Evans Hospitality Management program. The new management training program opened at the URG in the fall of 2012 and offers accredited bachelor’s and associate degrees through the URG with the opportunity for students to work full-time for Bob Evans.
“The program provides students with a great foundation in an industry that continues to hire and grow despite the lagging economy,” says Eulberg. “It also creates a solid pipeline of management candidates for Bob Evans Farms.”
The hospitality industry, and restaurants in particular, has been a steady source of jobs in a struggling economy, generating $16 billion in sales for the state, and providing approximately 530,000 jobs, according to the Ohio Restaurant Association.