In an in-depth interview in 2001, Foster chatted with Live Design/LDI's David Johnson: "We worked out a deal with Ken Vannice at Colortran, and there was an opportunity to turn Mega Cue—we call it Neander-Cue now—into a real product. There's a great Colortran story. At one point my brother and I were out in their offices in Burbank; Bill was programming and I was just kind of hanging around, and it was 11 or 12 at night. I was wandering around the engineering section, and I came across a file cabinet that said memory system. And I said, ‘Oh, this is interesting.’ I looked around to make sure Ken wasn't watching me, and I opened up the drawer and I found a folder that said ETC, and I thought, ‘This is even more interesting.’ I pulled out the folder and found an internal memo that referred to us as ‘the flakes from Wisconsin who would rather be sailors.’ I just thought this was hilarious. So we had pens printed up that said ‘Electronic Theatre Controls...we'd rather be sailing.’ We had sailboats put on our invoices and our checks, our letterhead had a sailboat on it. And it was just a howl for us, because Colortran didn't know how we found out about it."
In 2001, Live Design named Foster one of top 10 in the 50 Powerful People of the entertainment design industry. Here's why: "A maverick who revolutionized the lighting industry without even taking off his Birkenstocks. With a fabulous new factory now open and ready to make the next million Source Fours and rumors of a hot new console on the drawing board, his company seems to know no bounds. And who said they only make cheese in Wisconsin?"
In 2002, ETC announced it had the sale of one million fixtures in its Source Four® line, the latest milestone in a success story that has had an enormous impact on the entertainment lighting industry. The company marked the event by rewarding some lucky customers. Read Will You Be the Winner of the One-Millionth ETC Source Four?
Welcome to Fredsville: In 2004, the $21 million, 250,000 sq. ft., fan-shaped building in Middleton, WI (on the outskirts of Madison) was completed. It embodies both Foster's democratic concepts about corporate culture and his theatrical design sense. Foster, himself, toiled late into the night as Town Square was built, working as a carpenter, over the final 16 weeks of the process.
In 2007, Foster was presented with the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award. “Fred is by far the youngest winner of the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Tom Folsom, president of the Wally Russell Fund. “His accomplishments to the entertainment industry have however been clear, and unprecedented. It was never the intent of the Wally Lifetime Award to have to wait until a deserving individual was near the conclusion of their career, and it is our hope that by recognizing Fred and his many accomplishments at this time that The Wally Award and Fred will continue to motivate and contribute to the industry,” concludes Folsom.
ETC has supported the fund raising efforts of Light Relief since it was formed in 2001, making many donations over the years. In 2008, the company’s UK office pledged ongoing support for the charity over the next five years, with five annual donations totalling £12,500. “Our industry would not exist without its many freelance lighting designers and technicians," stated Foster. "Light Relief has already provided much needed practical and financial help to many of our colleagues and I am delighted that ETC can enable it to continue this fine program.”
David Johnson of LDI and Fred Foster at LDI2012
In 2010, Foster was again selected for 50 Powerful People: The Top Ten. Foster accomplished a few things since last being on this list in 2004. He received a Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, and ETC then populated the planet with over 2.5 million Source Four® fixtures in various venues. In addition to launching the Eos® family of consoles, the company also acquired Selador early last year, marking its foray into LEDs. And if that wasn’t enough, ETC Rigging™ was launched at LDI2009, along with new products, Prodigy™ hoists and Quicktouch™ controls, and the company finished construction of a 50,000sq-ft. facility in the Netherlands.
“One of the things we take the most pride in at ETC is our manufacturing process,” said Foster in 2015, “and it’s about to get some major recognition. ‘How It’s Made’ is going to showcase one part of what makes ETC such a special company.” Check out the article on ETC’s Source Four LEDs featured in a How It’s Made episode.
In 2015, Foster was the recipient of second annual The Paky Award. “It is a true honor to receive this recognition that is so properly named after Pasquale Quadri, a man who built a great company and who was a creative force in our industry,” said Foster in a video acceptance speech shown at the LDI awards ceremony. "We embrace great people, and this is the true reason for ETC's success. We are a group of extremely talented people who have come together to focus our passions, which has allowed ETC to become the company that we are. We respect each other. We care for each other. We have fun."
Since 2000, ETC has awarded graduate students and undergraduate seniors who are studying light design, theater technology or other related majors a LDI Student Sponsorship, including an all-expense-paid trip to the LDI tradeshow. Read the full article here.
In 2016, ETC's apps reached a quarter million dollars in donations. Upon presenting the check to Behind the Scenes, Foster commented, “We’re once again humbled by our customers’ generosity. As we celebrate ETC’s 40th anniversary and reflect on our history, we continue to be proud of the impact that the funds from the iRFR and aRFR sales have made over the years in the lives of those supported by BTS. We’re honored to be part of this supportive family of professionals.”
Mark Doyle for Live Design/LDI
On October 20, 2018, Foster presented the ETC Award for Dance in the Theatre category at the inaugural KOI-USA Awards to Al Crawford (right) for his lighting of Victoria.