The Local Files: Mark Foster
"I was born in London and was educated at Haileybury (UK). I then attended officer cadet school at Eaton Hall after which time I went to East Africa with the British Army. I served as an Officer in the black regiment called ‘The King’s African Rifles'. That was during the Mau Mau Uprising. After leaving the Army I got a job with Raleigh Industries of East Africa, and was based in East Africa for nine years – in Uganda and in Tanzania (or Tanganyika as it was then). I loved playing rugby and cricket, and I played Rugby for Kenya and Uganda."
"When both countries got their independence I left and went back to England. When I was 28 years old I boarded a boat for Canada. Why Canada? Why not? I was broke when I arrived in Toronto so I pumped petrol from 3pm to midnight every day and stayed in an $11/week room. I had several jobs in sales, travelling around the US for many years, and because I was constantly renting cars and flying around the country, I found the best place to eat was McDonald's. It was fast and I didn’t have to hang around."
"During this time I had met my wife, who is Australian. We came to Australia to meet her family and we spent a few weeks here, and then 18 months or so later I had an idea to get a McDonald's franchise in my wife's home country. That was on a Friday, so on the Monday I went to Chicago to the McDonald's head office. I asked the receptionist who I needed to speak to about getting a franchise in Australia, and she sent me up to the 7th floor to McDonald's International where I met a really nice guy who I chatted to for 40 minutes or so and he introduced me to the President of McDonald's International. He asked me if I was serious and I replied that I was, so he said okay, you’ve got one. That was it. He shook my hand and said that a McDonald's handshake is as good as a contract."
"So we put our home up for sale and shipped our furniture to Australia. That was that. We moved to Melbourne which is where my wife originates from. McDonald's was building a new store in Cheltenham near Southland, so I waited until the store was complete around 6 – 8 months later, and that was my first store. I went to Hamburger University (yes, it's true) in Chicago to do all my training. I was the first franchisee in Australia to train all my own managers, and by the time I opened I had around 100 staff."
"About a year later I was offered another store in Frankston and then around two years after that I was offered Mornington as well. We had bought a house in Mt Eliza, in 1978 I think it was. It’s a beautiful house overlooking the bay, so it’s a wonderful spot. I eventually sold the first two franchises and kept Mornington, and then I finally sold that and retired after being with McDonald's for around 17 years."
"I love the Mornington Peninsula. I have lived in Mt Eliza for 40 years. When we first moved to the area there were around three houses on the hill and Dromana was practically nothing. So the whole of the Peninsula has really grown. Mt Eliza is a beautiful place to live, and I love Mt Martha Village. It’s a very friendly area with a really great sense of community. A place that I am very happy to call home."