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The Family That Forges Together

Terp Gets Back to Roots with Metal Business

By Liam Farrell


Neil Markey is hoping he can build a future based on metal and Maryland—after all, it’s worked fine for generations of his family.

Markey ’06 and his brother, Luke, are behind the new company ShieldCo, which creates and sells 3-D steel art in the shape of team insignias, logos and cityscapes. Their projects include a nearly two-foot-by-two-foot, 11-pound Testudo, and they hope to gain traction during the just-started football season.

Fans already have access to plenty of disposable sports gear and knickknacks, Markey reasons; but how many people have something they would want to turn into a family heirloom?

“I think we can make a nice little, solid business,” he says.

The brothers are continuing a family tradition. Their father, Peter, is a blacksmith who collaborated on the front gates to the Statue of Liberty and has done numerous art projects around their hometown of Frederick, Md. Even further back in their family tree is an ironworker who created valuable stoves and a quilter whose work is still on display in the Daughters of the American Revolution museum. (Their great-great-grandfather, D. John Markey, was also Maryland’s first professional head football coach near the turn of the century.)

“I feel like I am getting back to my roots,” Markey says.

The business began when Luke, growing tired of a consulting career, came home and started working with his father, using old-school tools like a hammer and forge and also experimenting with computer design software and a precision cutting machine. Neil, who had done three tours in the Army before heading to Columbia Business School in 2012, encouraged his brother’s efforts to step away from the corporate grind and got interested as well.

“The apple doesn’t fall from the tree,” he says.

ShieldThe process starts with making an original design on a computer, fitting together the pieces of a logo like a puzzle. For example, Testudo’s brown skin, red M and black outlines are all on separate pieces of steel since each one can only be a single color—putting it all together gives the pieces their 3-D shape but presents a design challenge to make sure everything coherently lines up. The design is then sent to a separate company for laser cutting and put together back in ShieldCo’s shop in an old industrial section of Frederick.

The brothers are also working together with their father and his business, Creative Metal Design, to do custom projects like signage, railings and decorations.

Luke says the family teamwork has been invaluable.

“At the end of the day, I trust (Neil),” he says. “It’s really hard to find someone who cares about it as much as you.”

In addition to wall art for sports teams and schools like Maryland, Navy and Columbia, ShieldCo also does Ranger insignias in honor of Neil’s military career. The next major project is the skyline of New York City.


Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.