The Story of ShieldCo

 

The Markey Boys

Neil and Luke Markey, had humble childhoods as the sons of two artists. Their parents’ home didn’t have running water just a few years before they were born — not the norm for the US in the late 1970s.

Their mother Carol is a seamstress and designer and has outfitted their home with intricate, beautiful quilts. Their father, Peter, chose metal as his medium and is a modern-day blacksmith. Creative Metal Design, their father’s business, is located at their home. It is a humble shop bursting with tools and art and inspiration. Both Luke and Neil spent countless hours with their father in that shop watching him work, absorbing the art.

Peter’s art is displayed throughout Frederick: The Half Moon in front of Flights of Fancy, The Painter near the entrance to the Delaplaine Center, The Solider at the VFW. Many of these pieces were designed with Peter’s brother and fellow artist Richard Markey. Their family’s home is also a show case: the railings, tables, chairs and mirrors are art pieces all made by their father. Notably, in 1986 their father made the front gates to the Statue of Liberty, which are striking in scale and craftsmanship.

Peter Markey's first business sign - now on display in the ShieldCo shop.

Peter Markey's first business sign - now on display in the ShieldCo shop.

Family History

The brothers both feel that artistry is in their blood, which is unsurprising given their lineage. Their great-great-great-great uncle was known for his handcrafted intricate iron work. At the end of his life he had made three stoves each worth the value of a home. Their great-great-great- grandmother’s hand-woven quilts are still on display today in the Daughters of the American Revolution museum in Washington, DC.

 

College/First Career

After college, both brothers took different paths for a while and stepped away from art to take a more traditional, practical path.

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Luke attended University of North Carolina – Wilmington where he studied business. He was elected as the treasurer of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and became a leader in the organization. He lead many initiatives to raise additional money for the club and the community, always while keeping a watchful eye on the balance sheet of the organization. He also joined the Rotaract Club of UNCW and through his involvement in the organization was offered his first job as a financial advisor with Edward Jones. He moved to St Louis for a summer to attend their training program but at the end of the summer he decided that career choice wasn’t for him. As the economy worsened and positions in finance became scarce he decided he should double major in both finance and accounting, as jobs with accounting firms were still readily available. He sat for the Certified Public Accountant designation and passed in one attempt (only 28% of all candidates pass all four sections on the first try). He applied for a position at Deloitte in their Forensic and Advisory Department to consult companies through legal disputes, purchases and mergers and the following year he moved to Atlanta to start the new position. His first assignment was in New York City for Citi Bank and reviewing due diligence of Know Your Customer requirements. The next assignment was split between New Orleans and Houston as he defended BP Oil and their management and response efforts to Deepwater Horizon explosion and the ensuing onslaught of oil spillage. He helped BP recover over $100 million from unscrupulous bayou vendors. At the culmination of this project he headed back to New York City to help JP Morgan defend their lending practices following the fallout of the 2008 financial meltdown and subprime loans. It was in New York City that he made his final decision to quit consultancy and follow a different path..

https://www.linkedin.com/in/luke-markey

Neil attended the University of Maryland where he studied mathematics. He was surrounded by incredible mathematicians from all over the world but Neil uncovered his talent for holding his own in any company. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Neil left school to enlist in the Army and defend the United States. With some coaching from a close friend’s father who was a senior military officer, Neil returned to school and completed the ROTC program. His weekends were occupied by military drills, his morning by long marches and his evening with ROTC events. Upon graduation, Neil led an Infantry platoon from the Fourth Infantry Division and deployed to Iraq in 2008. He was selected for Ranger School and he he passed on the first go (less than 25% of people do so). Neil was later assigned to the US Army Special Operations Command, with the Second Ranger Battalion, and completed two more tours to Afghanistan. While serving with the Rangers, Neil helped form the Pointe du Hoc Foundation in 2010, a foundation that supports Rangers and their families. The Foundation is completing a beautiful memorial this year in Washington state; a tribute to all the Rangers killed in action. Neil drew the initial design by hand.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/neilpmarkey/

 

Back Home

Luke started to wonder if the consulting life was the best fit for him and after long discussions with a friend of his he heard something that really stuck: “Things with an expiration must be done first.” In February 2012 he quit his high-paying job and moved home without a plan. He knew he just wanted to work with his dad. “In the beginning I spent a lot of time on the forge, just swinging the hammer. It felt great. I remember one Friday night asking my dad to teach me some things, and there we were from 7pm until 11pm working side by side. It was one of the best Friday nights I can remember. Shortly afterwards, he taught himself AutoCad, a design program, and began experimenting with their CNC machine, a machine capable of cutting steel with high precision.

Neil left the military and began his MBA at Columbia University. For the first time in many years the brothers were finally on the same coast. Neil travelled home often and the brothers experimented together, their father alongside. They developed a really unique way to make simple two-dimensional logos and images into three dimensions using metal as their medium. Their first prototype was of the Baltimore Oriole. It was crude, weighed nearly 20 pounds, and its jagged lines and assembly were less than pretty. It hangs on their timeline wall as a constant reminder of how far they have come. This was also the first time, Luke or Neil (they can’t remember who) called the piece a “shield”. The name symbolized a way of showing your allegiance and support of an organization, a way to “protect your team”.

Their first finished pieces were for the Rangers, a 3D representation of the Ranger scroll. The scroll is worn on the right sleeve only by members of the elite unit who have completed a deployment; it’s a powerful piece of art. The scrolls were great practice for them and they donated their profits back to the Pointe du Hoc Foundation.

Neil and Luke continue to give back and are partners with both the Lead the Way Fund and the Pointe du Hoc Foundation, both 501(c)3 charities that support Rangers.

From there they created other pieces, again starting with what was meaningful to them. They recently released a beautiful, brushed stainless steel, three-dimensional version of the beloved Frederick skyline. They drew the inspiration from a similar piece of art created by their father and uncle Richard years ago.

Next, after receiving NCAA licensing approval in July 2014, they created a beautiful piece for the University of Maryland; a representation of the beloved “Terrapin”, the school’s mascot. It also serves as tribute to their great-great grandfather, D. John Markey, a World War Two veteran and the first head football coach for the University of Maryland, originally named Maryland Agricultural College, in 1902.

The brothers also enjoy creating custom pieces and have created high-quality versions of business logos for display in offices and entrances. They sold their first piece to the Director of the Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School. It is proudly displayed at the entrance of his energy consultancy firm in New York City.

 

The Future

The brothers are currently working on a design for Ferrari – for the company and its fans. Every detail was carefully thought through. The design is laser cut to a precision of 1/1000 of an inch. Exposed bolts on the piece give it a feeling of toughness and match the lug nuts on a Ferrari wheel.

Neil and Luke have big dreams of growing their small company but both approach it with a light and optimistic spirit. “I get to work with my brother and dad, life is good, as long as we enjoy the journey, we can’t really make a mistake,” said Luke Markey, President of ShieldCo.

As of 2019 the company has grown to 12 employees and sales are growing at over 40% a year. ShieldCo signs hang in 46 of 50 US States and they have many impressive clients on their roster.

A look into the process of turning a logo or custom design into a piece of 3D metal art.




Our Team

Sales

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Erin Hajjar
Start Date - December 2016

Before ShieldCo Erin worked for the Frederick News Post, selling the wonderful services on print advertising.

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Danica Vince Cruz
Start Date - May 2018

After graduating high school Danica moved to Monaco where she lived for 5 years with her now husband. She has worked in many startup companies and now has her own business - Danica VC Media.

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Alejandra Herron
Start Date - January 2019

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Katie Nichols
Start Date - January 2019

Designers

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Vincent Nichols
Start Date - April 2017

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Rob Mohrbacher
Start Date - November 2016

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Agus Fikri
Start Date - August 2015

Fabricators (Sign-tists)

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Woody Halter
Start Date - May 2016

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Doug Waldvogel
Start Date - May 2017

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Keegan Wright
Start Date - February 2018