The history of ETC through company acquisitions

One of the most significant ways ETC has grown is through acquisitions of companies that already had great people and great products. From one end of the globe to the other, it's been an impressive journey.

The first acquisition was Lighting Methods, Inc (LMI) in 1990. We’re proud to say that several of the people who came to ETC from LMI still work for the company today! As we roll through the years, it's important to mention a few things of note. One of the company names below that you may recognize is ARRI. While ARRI is, to this day, an impressive company known for its camera and lighting products, it’s worth noting that ETC acquired its lighting controls division way back in 1995.

One of the lesser-known acquisitions came in 2004 when we acquired Penko, a weighing, and dosing company based in The Netherlands. Penko mainly develops and sells products outside of the entertainment and architectural industries. However, this is an excellent example of how ETC innovates using the resources they have at hand. ETC rigging products have greatly benefitted from the load sensing technology developed by Penko.

When we take a closer look at some of the other acquisitions, we'll see that ETC LED fixtures were pushed into existence with the acquisition of Selador in 2009. Rigging would not have been possible without the acquisition of Vortek in 2014. The acquisition of High End Systems in 2017 added high-quality moving lights and live event desks to the portfolio. Echoflex Solutions brought building automation and eco controls in 2018. And after years of working hand in hand with GDS, backstage communication and architectural lighting were officially added to the product portfolio with the addition of GDS in 2019.

There’s no question that ETC would not be where we are today without each of these impressive companies joining together and adding their expertise to the extensive portfolio of equipment we currently offer.


Brothers Fred and Bill Foster and their friends James Bradley and Gary Bewick begin work on a prototype lighting control console, called Mega Cue. This is when ETC was born.


ETC acquires Lighting Methods, Inc., a Rochester, New York-based manufacturer of entertainment dimming systems. ETC becomes one of the largest fully integrated entertainment lighting control manufacturers in North America.


ETC expands into Asia with the opening of the Hong Kong office, then into Europe after acquiring the lighting control division of London-based distributor ARRI GB.


ETC introduces Unison lighting-control systems for architectural applications.


ETC acquired Irideon from Vari*Lite and began offering Irideon automated lighting within an architectural product range.


ETC opens an office in Rome to improve service in southern Europe.


ETC acquires German lighting company Transtechnik Lichtsysteme, based out of Holzkirchen, from former parent-company Transtechnik GmbH. With purchase, ETC acquires Transtechnik Lichtsysteme dimming products, Voyager studio-automation systems, and the Avab control-console brand, while gaining greater access to the central European market.


ETC takes equity position in Avab France.


ETC moves into new 76,000 square foot international headquarters in Middleton, Wisconsin, USA. ETC acquires respected Dutch sine wave dimming manufacturer IES and its industrial weighing and measuring division, Penko Engineering BV, located in Veenendaal, the Netherlands.


ETC adds 23,000 square feet of additional factory space to its international headquarters.


ETC acquires Selador LED product line.


ETC purchases a new 10,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, doubles the size of its New York office, and expands its ETC Asia office. A satellite sales office opens in Singapore to help the ETC Asia office better support customers in Southeast Asia.


ETC purchases the Vortek rigging division of New York-based Daktronics, allowing ETC to offer rigging solutions internationally.


ETC acquires High End Systems in Austin TX. With this acquisition ETC inherits LED automated lighting and Hog 4 consoles, launching themselves into the live events market.


In January, ETC acquired Echoflex Solutions, a manufacturer of wireless control products for commercial lighting. ETC France opened in Paris in November of the same year, bringing the corporate office count to 15!


ETC headquarters building opened its latest expansion, a multi-story 75,000 square foot addition. While the previous two building expansions increased manufacturing space, this addition added offices, lounge space, and meeting rooms, intended primarily for the research and development and marketing groups of ETC.


“We are a company founded on, and driven by the arts. It only makes sense that our office should reflect a certain level of creativity and innovation. This addition definitely accomplishes that goal.”  - Fred Foster

In 2015, ETC began manufacturing and selling GDS-designed products in North and South America and in 2019 ETC completed the acquisition of the ArcSystem, BluesSystem, and CueSystem product lines from GDS.

And ETC launched their latest startup company with RAYN Growing Systems, welcoming themselves into the horticulture market for indoor farming and research facilities.

Fred Foster always said, "We have the best people. And when you have the best people, you can never stop growing." ETC's employees constantly keep an eye on technology trends, always asking, 'how does this benefit our customers and how can we improve on it?' We strive to be a resource to our customers with live training sessions, workshops, online classes, forums, videos, news articles, and more.


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About ETC

Since its creation in 1975, ETC has grown into an international leader in events lighting technology. From control consoles and rigging hoists, to architectural lighting and fixtures, ETC provides the theatre and architectural industries with innovative solutions and products.