Arts and Culture

Electronic Theater Controls lights the way nationally and locally

A family-owned business illuminates Broadway

Stage actors all over the world dream of basking in the lights on Broadway. One local family-owned company is responsible for flipping the switch to help make those dreams come true. “We had our equipment on all but one of the Tony Award-nominated shows for Best Musical this past year,” says Rachel Frederick, marketing specialist at Electronic Theater Controls. ETC manufactures everything from simple spotlights to complex computerized control systems at its Middleton and Mazomanie locations, employing 700 people in the Dane County area. Founded by brothers Bill and Fred Foster in their parents’ home 41 years ago, ETC has grown into a $300 million per year company with 11 corporate offices and 1,200 employees worldwide.

“ETC has always been committed to controlling the production and quality of our products. Manufacturing in Dane County is a big part of this,” says CEO Fred Foster, adding that those products go far beyond the City That Never Sleeps — noteworthy installations include Disney World, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and London’s Royal National Theatre. Closer to home, ETC is responsible for stage lighting at Blackhawk Church, Middleton High School, the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the famed American Players Theatre in Spring Green. In recent years, the company added stage rigging to its manufacturing portfolio, much of which is installed at the Overture Center for the Arts.

“I don’t believe we could successfully provide this level of service if our finished products came from China or Mexico,” says Foster. “Most importantly, we have an incredibly flexible workforce that fulfills all of these requirements locally.”


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