At the corner of 9th and Prairie, inside a former church you will find Bow & Arrow Productions Inc. known around the world for their strong Iowa character, exceptional stage designs, and video productions.
This month we spoke with Chris Mars, Communications Manager and Production Assistant to find out more about Bow & Arrow's prestigious work.
In the early 1990s Owner and Creative Director Michael Mars was a professional singer as part of the Day of Discovery Christian music group. Michael recorded hundreds of songs and created corresponding music videos to be aired in both the US and Canada. Michael realized his passion for production during those performance years and began drafting audio and video designs for church festivals.
One day an insurance company was scheduled to give a big presentation and hit a snag. The original ideas they had for displaying their banners simply wouldn't cooperate. Frustrated, they called Michael to help. His professional courtesy and technical skills were well received, and Bow & Arrow Productions was born.
Many of you may remember the classic Richard Simmons infomercial shot in Iowa in the early 1990s. If you do, then you are witness to Michael's first live production!
Originally, Michael and his team were hired to build the set and stage pieces for that iconic show but things changed when the original producer was nowhere to be found. Chaos ensued as the video and audio teams were unable to communicate with one another and the deadline to the live show approached. In this time of stress Michael stepped forward and saved the day.
As the crew began to tear down the stage after the otherwise smooth production, Richard Simmons thanked Michael for a job well done by running across the room and jumping into his arms, screaming, "I love this man!" No longer content to only build sets, Michael redefined himself as a Producer and Bow & Arrow as a full-service event production company.
Over the past 20 years the company has designed lighting concepts, built stages, fulfilled audio/video needs, and overseen productions around the world for entertainers such as Bill Cosby, James Taylor, and Keith Urban while continuing to meet the needs of local businesses and church groups.
In 2008, Michael was riding his bike along the Raccoon River Valley Trail and stopped at the Dairy Shoppe in Adel for a treat. Taking in the sites around town, Michael passed the For Sale sign in front of the former library. At that moment he made the decision to move his former home-based business to Adel.
The library, originally a church, had recently been remodeled as Hanney's Restaurant. With the help of family and friends, the building was restored to it's original glory with custom woodwork, traditional and modern elements, and was infused with a palpable creative energy that the team hopes to share with the community.
When asked why this big company is in Adel, Iowa Chris laughs. It is a question he hears often and proudly states that it is because of the experience clients have when encountering Adel's charm. "There are fundamental character traits you get from Iowans that are really unique."
It starts with the scenic drive into the Raccoon River Valley, and is punctuated as the clients are given a walking tour of town while they brainstorm production ideas. Clients feel pampered in our small town as they are treated to local restaurants, visits to one of a kind shops, and small town hospitality like they have never experienced before.
Chris admits it can be a challenge to get clients to visit, but only once. After they have taken in the beauty of Adel and experience the creative energy of Bow & Arrow's workspace, they request to meet here and book extended stays.
Even with its international scope, Bow & Arrow Productions Inc. is a family business at heart. The 5-person team consists of Michael and his son Chris, Technical Director Tom Ford, Office Manager Nina Easley, and Ashley Reutter. Chris remembers building sets in the garage and his first assignments tapping down cords and carpet.
After Chris graduated from Simpson College in 2009 with a Communications degree, he joined the family business full time as the Communications Manager and Production Assistant. He is now responsible for video productions and gathering information from clients to help present their vision to their audience, with his golden retriever by his side. Katie greets visitors at the door and follows Chris wherever he goes, before lounging in the conference room in front of the fire.
It is important to note that Bow & Arrow Productions Inc. is not a gear house. Most companies within this field focus mainly on renting equipment.
"They throw it all at [the client]. They sit down with the client and say 'how can we spend your money.' Our goal isn't to pack as much stuff in one room as we can. We focus on communication, we are need driven. We ask 'what are your goals after this meeting?' We take notice and really care what the client needs."
To accommodate small productions, Bow & Arrow has a storage facility in Adel to meet your audio, video, and design needs. Think Adel the next time your needs range from a few speakers and microphones to lighting schemes to projection screens and stands.
Bow & Arrow has worked closely with the Special Olympics since the 1st National Games took place in Ames, Iowa in 2006.
Last year, Chris helped produce a video sharing the lives of exceptional US athletes that was shown at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics 2010 National Olympics.
The video, witnessed by 16,000 people, was made right here in Adel and featured stories of acceptance, overcoming adversity, and outstanding talent.
In his spare time Chris coaches basketball, as he did throughout college, and is responsible for the Corey Moore Classic charity basketball tournament. As his basketball coach, Chris had taken Corey under his wing and together they forged a path for Corey to further his education after high school.
Unfortunately Corey's life was cut short in a tragic swimming accident in 2005. The charity classic unites Alumni teams and raises money to fund the Corey Moore Scholarship program.
"One of our goals is to network more with the community and share our space with people. All the elements are here for a great gathering..." including a small kitchen, comfortable lounge area, and natural light. Call today to schedule a tour of the facility to see photos of past productions and hear tales of the art scattered throughout the space.
The local community may not have known Bow & Arrow is here, contently focused on small and big projects at hand. Or that the business reaches the four corners of the world, returning after each project to call Iowa home.
But the world is learning about Adel as Michael, Chris and the team bring more clients here and continue to spread praise about our small town charms to all they encounter. Bow & Arrow Productions Inc. is truly a great business and we are proud that they chose to plant their roots in Adel, Iowa!
*Photos courtesy of Pat Tierny and DiscoverAdel.com