(This article was originally published in the Winter 2023 ECHO Magazine.)
An internationally recognized production powerhouse that works with artists like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Beyonce and U2 may not seem like an obvious fit for a Lancaster Bible College alumnus. But LBC graduates are using their skills and talents to excel in their jobs at Rock Lititz.
The worldwide production community in Lititz, Pa., employs several LBC alumni, including Josh Formanek (’12), Jackson Hoover (’21), Kurt Lesh (’18), Eric Lizotte (’13), Joel Lucas (’21), Dylan Martin (’22) and Herb Suereth (’19). And these graduates who work within the Rock Lititz community are finding they’re not simply employees in the music industry but also examples of God’s love in the lives of their coworkers.
“I’ve had conversations with some of these graduates,” says Ryan Geesaman, Chair of the LBC | Capital Communication & Media Arts Department. “[They] are grateful for the way their time at LBC | Capital helped to solidify their faith before they headed into a workplace where they are rubbing shoulders with people who do not share their faith.”
Rock Lititz is a fast-growing production community made up of 30-plus studios that host a variety of events, from music to television to film. Through internships, LBC students are equipped for success within Rock Lititz businesses like 4Wall Entertainment, Clair Global and Stray Production Services—just a few of the Rock Lititz “Community Companies.”
“The Media Arts Production program at LBC gives students an overview of the entire industry and a foundation of knowledge in the various areas: audio, lighting, video, recording, theatre, etc.,” says Geesaman. “And with the addition of specializations, a student can dig deeper into the area in which they are most interested.”
One LBC student who dug deeper into this field is Eric Lizotte, who is currently leading the Systems Integration team at Stray Production Services. This team handles the permanent installation of live production equipment of all kinds. “In spaces large and small, we implement tools that allow facility owners and operators to have predictable success as they pursue impacting their audience,” Lizotte shares. “The team I lead consists of folks who would sell a project, acquire materials, plan labor, execute installation and service the customers’ needs following project completion.”
Lizotte adds that his career preparation at LBC was unique because he was the first student to graduate from the college with a communication degree. “Myself and a few other students in the program were learning in very real time,” he says. “It was the best place to be educated because the only option was to figure it out—and so I did my best to figure it out with the guidance of some key leaders within the Communication & Media Arts and Music, Worship & Performing Arts departments.”
Lizotte also says his LBC experience offered him a safe place to fail. “As you get further into your career, the stakes only get higher, and the safety nets get smaller.” His advice to college students and young professionals is based on that perspective: “Be humble and willing to ask for help but show that you aren’t afraid of trying something you’re not yet an expert at … and, in the trying, don’t hold onto it too tightly if you mess something up in your production or leadership pursuits. Right now, in the grand scheme, is a really good time to make a mistake and learn from it. It only gets less ‘safe’ to fail.”
A decade after his LBC graduation, Josh Formanek may have more on-the-job experience than a few of his alumni counterparts, but he enjoys the always-changing learning aspect of the field. Also a member of the Stray Systems Integration team, the Worship Arts major has been at Rock Lititz since the opening of “Pod 2” in 2017.
“I work on coordinating projects and helping our employees take those projects from start to completion,” he says. “One thing I love about my job is getting to work with graduates from LBC who have become great friends. It’s also helpful to know that we share the same values and truths, many of which were formed at LBC. The variety and fun-paced atmosphere that takes place around here is also pretty cool. Working at Rock Lititz is a great experience, as the entertainment industry can be a mission field as well!”
Two additional LBC alumni also make up Lizotte and Formanek’s team: Kurt Lesh and Dylan Martin.
In his role of design and engineering, Lesh makes sure the Stray systems are designed to best serve the specific needs of their clients, while also providing the team with the resources to install equipment. He enjoys getting to see projects move from concept to final product and helping clients leverage technology to solve their problems.
“My time at LBC provided both a variety of real-world experiences in church production, theatre, recording and broadcast environments as well as the theory associated to understand the principles of what we are doing,” Lesh says. “Additionally, the connections with various industry professionals to network and glean from helped me to leave college very well-equipped for my future career.”
Martin enjoys working with clients such as schools and churches as he makes and runs cabling for each system as well as builds and installs equipment racks. “Another unique aspect about my job,” Martin shares, “is that I get to work with and train those who are then going to be using the tech equipment.
“I learned during my time at LBC that I love working on a team,” he continues. “That would be one of my favorite things about working for Stray—we rarely are doing a job by ourselves. Stray has fantastic group of men and women that love to support each other. We are always relying on each other to work together to create a great finished product.”
Martin sees his work at Stray and Rock Lititz as a continuation of his LBC education. “LBC has certainly helped me so much in getting to this point in my life,” he says. “Many of my professors sought to push me in my leadership skills. I have grown to be able to confidently serve clients and those on the stage to a very high degree, all because of the mentorship and training that I obtained at LBC.”
Herb Suereth’s education at LBC wasn’t on the media side; he instead earned his MDiv in 2019 and applies this knowledge daily in his Integration Sales position at Stray.
“The education I received from Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School provided me with not only the theological tools to plumb the depths of God’s Word but also the critical thinking required to determine how to apply it well,” Suereth says. “In roles ranging from rack wire harness technician to integration sales, the application of loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, along with loving my neighbor as myself, has proven beneficial not only to me and my career but also to my employers here at Rock Lititz, Clair Global and now Stray Pro. This enables me to quickly connect and understand the needs of house of worship clients in order to provide systems and solutions that meet their needs and mission.”
Joel Lucas, a recent grad of the Media Arts program, is loving his job within Rock Lititz. In the next pod over from Stray, Lucas is a Shop Technician for 4Wall Entertainment and helps wherever he’s needed in the department. One day might involve inspecting cable, while another might focus on testing equipment. He says he especially enjoys spending time with his fellow workers because they treat him like family.
“Rock Lititz is all about production gear, touring and working with artists,” Lucas says. “My classes at LBC that dealt with technology like cameras, audio and lighting helped me in chapels as well as my internships and practicum. So if it wasn’t for these classes that focused on production specs, I wouldn’t have gotten (a position at) Rock Lititz.”
Another 4Wall team member, Jack Hoover spent two months searching for a job where he could use his hands-on Media Arts training and experience after his December graduation last year. He specifically researched open positions at Rock Lititz and, in March 2022, began work as a Moving Lights Technician.
During his time at LBC, Hoover was involved in a variety of on-campus Media Arts opportunities. Today in his workplace, he is surrounded daily by 40 to 50 different people from varying spiritual backgrounds than his own. “I have had a lot of opportunities to show who Jesus is through myself,” says Hoover. LBC prepared Hoover with a biblical basis for his faith, and he now uses this foundation to be a “light” in the lives of his coworkers. His position encourages Hoover in the importance of living a life set apart.
“Even if it’s subtly,” says Hoover, “be that light.”