John Foss has been with Corundum Group, the wealth management company within Central Bancorp, for 13 months. In late May, he was named president of the group, and Foss said he’s part of a talented team that strives to serve clients in the best way possible.
A native of Fargo, N.D., he graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Dakota before moving to Colorado Springs to work for what became Deloitte & Touche as an auditor.
Foss, now 60, and his wife, Brigitte, have a daughter, Danielle, 26, who works in sales in downtown Denver, and a son, Alan, 24, who is on staff with Young Life in Fort Collins.
Foss spoke with the Business Journal about his promotion, what makes Corundum Group special and his travels around the world.
How did you end up in South Africa and New Zealand?
I was single at that time and wanted to see a little bit of the world and arranged a two-year contract with a Deloitte firm in South Africa. That was terrific and a lot of fun. I started in Johannesburg and transferred to Capetown, where I met my wife, Brigitte, who was from Belgium. I came back to Colorado Springs for a year and did some freelance work and then I took a two-year contract with Deloitte in New Zealand.
Did you go on any safaris?
The one I remember most was one Brigitte and I did in Botswana at the Okavango Delta, an undeveloped area. It was a rough trip, a backpacking trip with no tents, and we slept on the ground. Our leader didn’t believe in guns, so we had to take turns watching through the night, and keep the fire going so we wouldn’t get eaten, I guess.
What were you doing before joining Corundum Group?
I’d been with a pension plan in Colorado Springs for 22 years, a plan that was founded by the old printer’s union that used to be headquartered here. At one time it had over a billion dollars in assets. I retired from them in April 2015 and was looking for a break and a change. My wife and I wanted to travel and we did that for eight months, but we cut it short when this opportunity came up. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to work with smart and fun people.
Was it an easy transition?
There is a learning curve because there are a lot of moving parts and pieces. We have about $750 million in assets under management by the Corundum Group, and our sister trust company has another $400 million. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable after a year and really enjoying it.
What brought about your promotion?
Ron Johnson is chairman of the board, but he didn’t want to be president any longer. He wanted to focus on helping clients and finding more good investment opportunities; that’s what he’s good at, and it’s the most important thing. So he asked if I would serve as president and be responsible for the day-to-day running of the office. I’ll still be doing some of the operations things and I’ll be in charge of compliance. And I serve on the investment committee.
What makes Corundum Group different?
Corundum Group has the normal equity investments and bonds, but we also do a lot of alternative investments that we usually structure as private-fund limited liability companies. The difference with the alternative investments is that we’re actively setting up private funds, allowing our client to have an opportunity to invest in a particular real estate deal. We do mutual fund investing in stocks and bonds, but we try to diversify their portfolios with these alternative investments, many of which have done very well.
How did Corundum Group begin?
Ron and a partner set it up in 1992 to take care of one family, a wealthy family. And then another family came in and a third family. Now we have 100 clients. I think we’re one of the largest registered investment advisers in Colorado Springs. Corundum Group is under Central Bancorp, and Ron is the majority stockholder of Central Bancorp.
Is this your last job? If so, how does that feel?
It will be my last job. This is just a good company to work for; I really like the people and I really like the clients. I just tap-dance to work every day.