With a portfolio of hand painted murals and re-creations of Hogwarts, billion dollar companies won’t leave them alone.
Pam Price and Mike Rozell of F5 Theming and Design LLC have been working 15-hour days since starting their Verona-based company in June 2017.
Price, the company founder and chief creative officer, has developed a reputation as one of the best in her field, and the result has left the duo a bit frustrated. They continue to get repeated job requests from theme park companies, even though they’ve made it clear they probably won’t be available.
The two artists have chased an endless schedule of work as the phone keeps ringing.
“They’re like, ‘Okay, well, we’ll keep you in mind. We’re always going to call you,’” Price told the Press.
F5 Theming and Design creates structures and displays for companies seeking an uncommon theme for their buildings and grounds, such as the Wizard’s Academy campus at Epic, which contracted the duo on projects long before the creation of F5.
As F5’s only full-time employees, Price and Rozell have had to turn down high-profile jobs, including Disney’s recently opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park.
Rozell cited the company’s young existence as responsible for its inability to meet demand.
“We’re still getting our feet underneath us and growing,” he explained.
Theming involves going above and beyond the norms of architecture and design to create themed environments using unique elements such as hand-painted murals, quirky sculptures or settings lifted straight from movies.
When talking to the Press on April 18, Price and Rozell were putting finishing touches on murals destined for Stillwater, Minnesota. When completed, they’ll travel there to install them.
They were also in negotiations for a project with Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells, which is doing a “big expansion” this summer,” he said.
“They want us to come up and do some design and some theming work for them,” Rozell said.
In the meantime, F5’s current projects have consumed the workspace of its South Nine Mound Road Verona location, which the company has rented since May 2018. Contracted for a two-year lease, the team’s goal is to eventually build and own a larger workplace.
Price and Rozell are also looking to set up a “satellite operation” in Florida for jobs in winter, when theme park projects become abundant there and slower here.
With these plans for expansion, F5 continues to be in high demand.
“We’ve been asked to travel to Singapore to do jobs. There’s no end to what we can do,” Price said.
Five becomes two
Rozell first met Price when working at the Nassal Company, a leading theming company where Price was considered the go-to designer. When Rozell began looking for work in the industry, his contact told him, “Find this lady, and she will put you to work.”
With Price at the helm, the Nassal Company embarked on many massive projects, including Universal’s “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” theme park, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin attraction.
Eventually Rozell left Nassal to work in theater, but soon found himself called back to theming and contacted his old friend to see if he could find some jobs. Price invited him to work with her in Wisconsin, which laid the groundwork for the creation of F5.
The company’s name is a stylization of FFIVE, an acronym derived from descriptors “focused,” “fun,” “inspired,” “visionaries” and “experts.” Though the name was inspired by the original proposed team of five company employees, three people backed out, leaving only Price and Rozell.
They are now “joined at the hip,” as Rozell put it, as the only artists to be found at F5 Theming and Design. The company employs one other person part time, Lisa Showers, a project coordinator.
Looking to improve their manpower situation, Price and Rozell plan to hire one or two artists this summer, though they’ve already been keeping an eye out for some time.
“It’s just a matter of being ready because we don’t want to hire somebody and then have the work kind of peter out and then not have to keep them, so we’re being very cautious,” Rozell said.
Price also referred to a need for an artist who is “well rounded.”
“Being a top-notch artist under those environmental circumstances and to be able to sculpt and do full finish and to do carpentry and rock work and paint, it’s hard just to find someone that’s good with a brush,” Rozell said.
Price and Rozell aspire to field a full-time staff of five by year’s end, including an artist, a carpenter and an office worker.
“We know when we see the right person,” Price said.