Fred Foster, a Madison native who founded ETC (Electronic Theatre Controls Inc.) will receive the 10th annual Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” award at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. 


The award, which celebrates entrepreneurial leaders who have been crucial to Wisconsin’s economic growth, is named in honor of the late Ken Hendricks, a Beloit businessman and 2006 “Seize the Day” award winner who died in an accident in late 2007. 


Foster will accept the award and speak at noon Tuesday, June 4, during the 2013 Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Middleton. To register for the luncheon or the full conference at the Marriott West, visit  


Read this story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.


While studying at the UW-Madison in the 1970s, Foster, his brother Bill, Gary Bewick and James Bradley developed and marketed a groundbreaking lighting-control system for theater. Since ETC was founded in 1975, Foster has performed many roles within the company – from being one of the original inventors and engineers to industrial designer, tech support, salesman, marketer, president and CEO. 


Over time, ETC’s products have ranged from lighting consoles to spotlights, dimming and power control systems, light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures and other entertainment technologies. 


Foster has received the industry’s top leadership honors. They include the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology’s special citation “for significant contributions to the advancement of equipment design and manufacturing in the field of lighting technology for the performing arts;” the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award; and the international Gottelier Award.  Foster received the Wisconsin Governor’s Award for the Arts 2010, recognizing ETC as a vital and progressive force for creativity in the state.  Foster continues to be ranked among the top 10 “Most Powerful People” in the entertainment-technology industry by Live Design Magazine. 


“Fred Foster epitomizes what it means to literally work out of your garage as a young entrepreneur and to build a successful company,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “His persistence and vision has helped put Wisconsin on center stage in the entertainment technology world.”


In addition to Hendricks, who later won Inc.’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award, past winners of the Seize the Day award have been Don Weber of Logistics Health Inc. (2004); Bob Cervenka of Phillips Plastics (2005); Jan Eddy of Wingra Technologies (2007); Michael Cudahy of Marquette Medical Systems (2008); Toni Sikes of The Guild and (2009); Bill Linton of Promega (2010); Bob Hillis of Direct Supply (2011); and Kay Koplovitz of USA Network (2012).


The “Seize the Day” award is not given for technical innovation but for innovative leadership – the ability to take hold of business opportunities and transform them into successes. Candidates for the award will have demonstrated:


Vision – Recognizing opportunities where others do not.

Courage – Vigorous, dedicated pursuit of opportunities in the face of risk and skepticism.
Adaptability – Rapid and repeated reinvention in response to changing markets.
Persistence Maintaining optimism and effort in the wake of setbacks.
Resourcefulness – Overcoming obstacles and finding ways to fund growth.

Recognizing the important role the arts play in nurturing a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, each year’s award has been a unique art piece. This year’s sculpture was once again created by Rivers’ Edge Foundry, Beloit, a business launched with the help of the late Ken Hendricks and Diane Hendricks, who has agreed to sponsor the award in his name.


The recipient of the award is selected from the nominees by members of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference steering committee. Other highlights include: 


·         Launch, grow and succeed tracks tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs;  


·         The Top 12: Finalists in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest square off; 


·         Wisconsin Innovation Showcase, which will highlight some of the state’s best and boldest companies and their innovative products; 


·         Nationally known speakers such as Jason Lucash of OrigAudio and “Shark Tank” fame; 


·         Plenty of chances to network over food and refreshments! 


The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference is produced by the Tech Council, the independent, non-profit science and technology advisers to the governor and the Legislature. It serves as a catalyst for the growth of Wisconsin’s tech-based and entrepreneurial economy. 


Register or learn more by visiting To learn more about the host city and what it has to offer, go to