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ETC CEO remembered as man who truly cared about his employees

MIDDLETON (WKOW) — The community of Middleton and the world of Hollywood lighting lost a giant Friday. Electronic Theater Controls founder and CEO Fred Foster lost his battle with cancer at age 61.

“Fred was not your typical CEO,” said David Lincecum, vice president of marketing at ETC and Fred’s friend for more than 20 years.

“He was the CEO of the company, but if you called in the early 90s, you were likely to get him on the phone,” Lincecum said. “He wasn’t sitting in a big office talking to bankers and making big deals. He was more about the stewardship of the people in his company.”

Fred started the company in 1975 while attending UW-Madison, and since then he has grown it into an international stage-lighting powerhouse, building and designing lighting for clients like the Academy Awards.

The company’s Middleton headquarters is like a giant amusement park, complete with city walkways and facades, as well as offices built out of shipping containers.

“One thing that Fred did was to get the best people in the company, and to give them an environment and a culture to work in that would make them successful,” Lincecum said.

Fred’s passion was lighting, and his personality lit up every room he was in.

Despite his cancer diagnosis in 2015, Fred kept that bright personality until the very end.

“Fred was here on Tuesday, and his death was Friday morning, so he never really left the company,” Lincecum said.

ETC has posted a remembrance page on their website, and there is a Facebook group set up for employees to share memories of Fred.

In lieu of flowers, ETC asks that people donate to the Behind the Scenes charity in Fred’s memory.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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