Kristine Tracie and Marla Smiling For the CameraBob Kartman In A Airplane

Above, left to right: Kristine Forbing, Tracie Schmidt, and Marla Lauer. Far Right: Bob Kartman.

March Anniversaries at Apollo Design®


Celebrating 21 years at Apollo, Marla Lauer's first position was in the shop at Apollo's Front Street location. She moved to sales for a year, then to her current position as Quality Control Production Coordinator.

"I really like my current position because I move around all day and I work with every department," shares Marla. "I enjoy being able to see the gobo art come through on paper and then the final product on metal or glass. We take pride in our work, and in getting products out promptly. We have a great group of people getting the job done and keeping our customers happy!"

"In the early days of Apollo, we all went to the LDI Trade Show," reminisced Marla. "I loved traveling to Las Vegas, seeing our dealers, and checking out industry products. It was amazing! Now after 21 years, things have changed some of course, but I still see amazing things with a promise of more to come!"

Marla credits family values as a driving force behind her success in life. Her father always encouraged her to work hard and do her best. While she looks forward to retirement someday, she's glad to work at Apollo.

When Marla isn't at work, she enjoys traveling, participating in the 3 Rivers Festival Chalk Walk, bike riding, and reading.


Kristine Forbing has worked in Apollo's art department for 20 years.

Trained as a teacher and naturally curious, Kristine explains, "I enjoy the challenge of learning how to incorporate ‘new tricks’ in my workflow and have implemented several procedures that have had an impact in Apollo’s turnaround time throughout the years."

"I work with a great bunch of people who are as much my family as they are friends — definitely not just coworkers," shared Kristine, citing one example that her supervisor, Tracie Schmidt, texts her team to let them know when the parking lot is icy. "We support each other in times of joy as well as sorrow. It takes a huge team effort to make Apollo the wonderful place it is!"

Kristine enjoys her art department colleagues and their shenanigans. She appreciates how everyone keeps their creativity alive and thriving: "We like to have fun!"

With plans to retire at Apollo Design®, Kristine cites that Joel and Keersten Nichols, Apollo's co-owners, genuinely care about their employees.

"Joel has always been open to ideas from employees and implements an 'open door' policy. He truly ‘thinks outside of the box’ and is always trying to stay ahead of the curve. I have witnessed him jump the up and down hurdles of business, and usually land on his feet. But most importantly, I KNOW Joel really cares about each of his employees, and he works especially hard just to keep us employed. He has had to make difficult decisions, but he tries to reduce the negative impact it may have on an employee and their family. I have watched from the sidelines and observed the negative impact these tough decisions have had on him on a personal level," continues Kristine. "It’s not easy to be a boss, let alone a business owner. People have different ideas, and they don’t always agree. But Joel tries to be fair, and I have great respect for him and Keersten. Joel and Keersten always express their appreciation for their employees through a bonus program, Christmas gifts, and two parties during the year."

In her spare time, Kristine enjoys singing in a church choir, studying alternative health ideas, watching Korean dramas, and eating bulgogi at local restaurants.

"I don’t know where my interests may lead me in the future — life is an adventure."


Observing her Sweet 16, Tracie Schmidt began her career at Apollo in 2002, as a graphic designer in the art department. Tracie now serves as Art Director and enjoys the research and development of products.

Tracie learned about the graphic design position from a friend employed by Apollo. "My first day there was a huge snow storm. I lived 45 minutes away, and it took me 2.5 hours to get to work. I didn’t want to miss my first day," recounts Tracie.

Away from work, Tracie is with her husband, Don, and son, Connor. They enjoy hiking, camping, and backpacking.


Bob Kartman celebrates his first-year anniversary as Engineering Manager. In his role, he works on new product design and development for AVID Labs®, a sister company to Apollo Design®.

“I enjoy the fast-paced variety of working with customers and AVID associates. It’s a great ‘engineering sandbox,’” states Bob.

In his free time, Bob loves spending time with his wife, Rebekah, their four grown children, and grandson, Flynn. Bob also enjoys flying with the Back 40 Flying Club, a hobby he first started in 2011.