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GATOR MILLWORKS makes cabinets.

If that brings to mind a guy in a flannel shirt with a table saw, guess again. This innovative casework and millwork company is cutting edge—in every sense of the word.

Gator Millworks began as a traditional “cabinet shop,” but, under second-generation leadership, now does some of the state’s largest and most sophisticated millwork projects for both commercial and residential clients.

Currently, for instance, Gator is installing millwork in the new Patrick F. Taylor Hall on LSU’s campus that highlights 20,000 square feet of hickory wall paneling. Because the plans call for a unique wood color, Gator CEO and president Chad Foster and several Gator staff members—plus the project’s architect and contractor—recently flew to a sawmill in Indiana to hand-select each bundle of hickory veneer.
That was a long journey from Gator’s humble beginnings.

“My father, Randy Foster, and his partner, homebuilder Gary Henson, founded this company 22 years ago,” says Chad. “They started off as a 3,200-square-foot cabinet shop in Central. Two years later, they built our current facility located (for now) on Highway 16 in Denham Springs.”
Millwork and cabinetmaking runs in the bloodline, with family ties to several other cabinet shops in town. Like his dad, Chad Foster grew up working summers and after school at the family shop. Chad spent much of his spare time at Gator learning the woodworking business alongside his father—sanding cabinets, sweeping floors, going to job sites and learning the ropes. This experience proved invaluable just three years after Chad graduated high school when his father fell seriously ill. During his junior year in college, Chad made the decision to step away from his college degree of business finance and step into his father’s shoes. Although Randy had reservations about his son’s decision to quit college, this step proved to define the company’s future.

Chad became a 50% owner in Gator in 2004 when Henson decided to depart from the business. Then, just two years later, Randy decided he was ready to relinquish the remaining shares of the business. “At first it was very hard for me to think I was ready to run this business without my father,” Chad says. “If it wasn’t for my father and Gary starting this business, it’s a strong possibility that I never would have gotten involved in the woodworking industry.”

In the summer of 2004 Chad and his father decided to attend the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. This trip kick-started the first of many key investments into new technology. The first major investment was a nested based CNC router that processed cabinet parts out of plywood much faster and more precisely than the traditional method: a person with a table saw.

Today, Gator still continues investing in the latest technology, software and tools the market has to offer for the design and manufacture of custom casework and millwork. The company is about to break ground on a new, state-of-the-art headquarters just off I-12 near Florida Boulevard and Juban Road. This new facility will total 50,000-square-feet once both phases are completed and will feature the state’s only Intellistore, a computer-driven machine that can locate specific materials from deep within a storage area and, unassisted, retrieve and deliver them to the panel saw and CNC routers.

Chad also believes in investing in his staff. “Gator’s biggest assets are the dedicated people that work here,” Chad says. “You can purchase the best technology the world has to offer, but without employee dedication the machines become useless.”

Chad credits the many key employees the company has had to date for playing a major role in the success of the business over the last 10 years. Chad adds, “Over the next 18 months Gator will have three employees reach 10 years of service. It’s amazing to know that Gator Millworks can offer such great opportunities to the people who work here.” 

Building on that solid foundation and a reputation for always delivering on time, Chad Foster, now 36, is enthusiastically taking Gator in new and exciting directions. The company remains true to its roots in residential work for homeowners and contractors, but it has attracted a prestigious commercial clientele, too. In addition to Patrick F. Taylor Hall, recent and notable projects include the renovation of New Orleans East Hospital, which required nine floors of custom cabinetry and nurses’ stations, and the conversion of New Orleans’ W Hotel into La Meridien Hotel.

With the constant demands of overseeing such a thriving entity, Foster rarely has time for the hands-on work of cabinet-making anymore, but the former hardworking high school kid still loves what he does and welcomes what the future will bring this company. 



PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Full-service architectural woodwork and commercial casework; fully automated in estimating, engineering and manufacturing

TOP EXECUTIVES: Greg Slain, senior estimator; Austin Shelton, VP of operations Greg Theriot, senior project manager Chad Foster, CEO and president Tom Choppin, VP of sales and business development



PHONE: (225) 667-7758



TWITTER: @GatorMillworks

FACEBOOK: Gator Millworks Inc.

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