Trading Up: ABC's 2023 Craft Professional of the Year, Jared Foster

‘I wish when I was in high school that I had what they have now, and that is people who are invested in the trades, actually pushing for people going to the trades.’
By Grace Calengor
June 1, 2023

When Jared Foster attended his eldest daughter’s fifth-grade graduation last year, the principal said something he had never heard uttered inside a public school before—but had always wanted to.

“‘Some of you are going to go to college, and some of you are going to do this or that…,’” Foster remembers the principal saying. “And then she said, ‘Some of you will go to a trade school.’ It was the first time in my life that I had sat in a public school and heard the words trade school. I couldn’t have been prouder of that. That’s huge, and that’s what our industry needs.”

Foster describes himself as “a straight-up girl dad” who “loves the outdoors… sitting around a bonfire, listening to music.” As you’d imagine, the senior general superintendent at Gaylor Electric in Indianapolis and 2023 ABC Craft Professional of the Year also loves the construction industry. But his illustrious, accomplished career hasn’t been about titles and accolades; rather, it’s been about honoring those who have helped him along the way.

“Being the Craft Professional of the Year, I’m going to give back in ways that [my mentors have] given to me and maybe even more,” Foster says. “It’s so humbling to sit up here and represent everybody else that’s brought me here.”


Foster has been with Gaylor Electric since 2006, but he started on his career path as a hopeful pre-med student. “I grew up at a time where basically if you talked about doing anything other than going to college you were a piece of…,” Foster says, trailing off. “At that time, really, schools had no shop or anything like that. So, you weren’t doing any sort of vocational training.”

Without any formal insight into the benefits of trade schools, Foster pursued medicine at the University of Southern Indiana. “Pre-med sounded cool,” he says. “I thought I was going to be able to pick up all the girls, but it was a complete 180. Turns out, college wasn’t for me.”

After this revelation, Foster returned home to his parents in Brownsburg, Indiana, without a degree and without a plan. He filled his time with “odd jobs” like landscaping and brick paving, but reality sank in when Foster fell ill without insurance. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he knew he needed to find a career—and where do people look when they are down? Up.

Since childhood, Foster has looked up to his father, a career electrical engineer. “He hired me when I was 11, paid me $10 an hour cash, and I thought I was rich,” Foster says. “I learned how to wire PLCs and control panels, and so I fell in love with that. Never, ever, ever did I think that it would put me in the position I am now.”

Foster followed his father’s advice and applied for a helper position at Gaylor. In 2006, after nine months of applying and waiting and calling, Foster received an invitation for an interview. His dad even bought him his first professional toolkit when he got the job. “I had the chip on my shoulder of ‘I’m not going to let my dad be the reason I’m here,’” Foster says.

While his dad might have been the reason Foster found his way to Gaylor, he wasn’t the reason that he stayed. “The people of Gaylor Electric are some of the best people,” Foster says. “If you leave, you’re never going to find the culture that we have here. And it’s the truth. I’ve been here 16 years, and I can’t see myself being anywhere else.”


The same year he started at Gaylor, Foster also began apprenticing for the NCCER Journeypersons Certificate through ABC in the evenings. Following the completion of this certification, things progressed quickly. In the 2010s, Foster became an ABC instructor and the father of two girls; in 2020, he earned an associate degree in applied science from Vincennes University; in 2021 he was promoted to senior general superintendent at Gaylor; and now he’s ABC’s Craft Professional of the Year.

Foster has taken much of what he learned from ABC, Gaylor and everywhere in between and applied it to raising his daughters. “My two daughters are everything to me,” he says. “[ABC] asked me what this award meant to me. My answer was everything. I spend probably 75% of my time on the road and away from them. So [it is amazing] to be able to bring this back to them and show them this is what Daddy does and why he does it—not for the recognition, but for them.”

With his older daughter turning 13 this year and entering high school soon, Foster will be revisiting his own experience of making major life choices, but from a different perspective—and with more options. “I wish when I was in high school that I had what they have now,” he says. “And that’s people who are invested in the trades, actually pushing for people going to the trades instead [of a traditional college path].”

Knowing what he knows now, Foster advises his daughters to “have conversations with people. Find out what really matters to you and where you feel like you’re going to enjoy it the best. If it’s going to college, cool, go to college. If it means one of my daughters is out as a tradeswoman, hey, I’d be proud as hell of that. But [they need to] have the conversations. I’ll gladly sit back and tell them my opinion, but they need to go find out [what they want] for themselves.”

The perseverance that got Foster into Gaylor has helped him raise two daughters, finally earn his degree and was a main factor in his being awarded the Craft Professional of the Year. He actually learned he was nominated while instructing an ABC class. After a congratulatory email from the association upon his nomination, Foster let the message sit for a while. Then ABC reached out and asked for an interview. That was when it hit him: He had won.

“To even be considered in the top three was a win for me; that was my Super Bowl,” Foster says. “There are so many other people that came before me that deserve this recognition. Me sitting in this chair is really a product of the training that I’ve gotten from the other people that have supported me. And I’m proud to represent them. I really am.”

Foster spent ABC Convention 2023 week getting to know the other nominees, venturing from booth to booth, exploring the National Craft Championships and immersing himself in the community of skilled trade professionals. Now that he’s back to his day-to-day schedule at Gaylor, Foster has this advice for the up-and-coming generation of electricians, engineers, contractors and other craft workers: “You’ll never know if you don’t try it. It starts with making a decision. I think we hold off on making decisions way too often because there are good and bad decisions, but as long as you’re making a decision, you’re moving forward.”

by Grace Calengor
Grace Calengor is associate editor of Construction Executive.

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