BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – There’s a certain palpable energy that’s starting to take hold in Fort Madison.
It may seem slow to emerge with some businesses opening and some closing and still seeing empty store fronts, but another piece of the puzzle may have just fell into place.
After a 5-year stint in the U.S. Navy and then 20 years working in print and broadcast journalism, Geoff Shields, a 1989 graduate of Fort Madison High School, recently moved back to the area with his wife Lisa, a Wisconsin native, and has opened a video production company to help local businesses with branding and marketing.
Earlier this year, Shields, who was the Director Of Operations at WMTV-TV in Madison Wisconsin, became subject to a reduction in force that’s swallowing up local media outlets, and his position was eliminated.
Then staring down a decision to look for another TV gig, Shields decided to go in another direction.
“I’d had enough of working for others and decided I wanted to work for myself,” Shields said. “And what better place to do it then to come home to Fort Madison and start my own production company.”
Lisa works from home as a world-wide service planner for Toshiba. Following her own 4-year stint in the U.S. Navy, she began working for IBM, which entailed the Shields’ moving four times to four different states early in her career. While living in Austin, Texas, Geoff’s career path in TV Production took off. First as Studio Manager at KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas, then progressing to Production and Operations Manager of WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, finally moving to the Madison area in 2007.
With more than two decades of broadcast production leadership skills in his back pocket, Shields said the decision he and his wife made to move back to the area didn’t come easily. He said his plan for retirement was to work in video production on the side to help people with their branding.
“When we were researching it, my wife and I talked about what’s next. We could literally go anywhere.,” Shields said. “I could look for another job in broadcasting. It’s a small industry where I know a lot of people, and they know me. But I really wanted to do something different.”
So they purchased a building on Main Street….Avenue G, and set up a studio where he now runs Avenue G Productions, the video production element of Shields Media Services, LLC. Shields said that allows him to offer other services eventually, but for now he’s focusing on video production, branding, and messaging using video for marketing, over-the-air media, social media and online promotion.
“The name isn’t an accident – Avenue G Productions,” Shields said. “I’m from here, and hopefully that means something to the people here.
Lisa said the couple is passionate about the communities in which they live and want the business to work in that model as well.
“His enthusiasm level for this is about to the point of ridiculousness,” Lisa said.
“We live here, too. We want Ft. Madison to flourish, and we want it to thrive. Taking the opportunity to move back home and start building those relationships with people who own businesses here – people who I knew from before who are still here, helping them succeed and do really well is my goal.”
He said he brings skills and the knowledge of 25 years plus of working in broadcast television in promotion and marketing.
“Video is such a powerful tool and an intimate medium that effects you on an emotional level. It’s good to bring the experience of producing high quality video to the marketing effort of businesses in the area,” he said.
“It has to be the right message for your business. And if we can create a video together to help your potential customers understand that – it’s a win for you.”
He said he doesn’t think opening the business is a risky move.
“People talk about the risk of starting a new business, The real risk is not doing it. So why not?”