Signs of the Times - September 2013 - (Page 38)

THE MOVING MESSAGE By Bob Klausmeier Digital-display consultant Bob Klausmeier brings 34 years of firsthand, professional experience to all digital-sign markets. You can reach him at Who Provides What to Whom, Part 2 This year, I added import/export data, and more. L ast September, I wrote a column entitled “So, Who Provides What to Whom?” Interestingly, the column brought more reader responses than any I’ve written during my 12 years as an ST columnist. In addition to my comments, the column listed 34 LED-display suppliers – and the country of origin for their display products. Some readers said I’d pulled the pants down on various suppliers, but that wasn’t my purpose. However, such reader response did advance my awareness of the LED-display, distribution-channel complexities, especially in the U.S. The lack of transparency piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know how many display providers operate in the U.S., and how they function. I drew from my own accumulated information pool (I keep quite a bit of information on known LED display providers), but also uncovered many other information sources. This year, for example, I added import/ export data as well as information from various Internet searches. Initially, I updated and expanded last year’s list. Once done, I sent my list to a dozen or so confidants, who keep similar information, and asked them to add other known companies. Next, I measured the list against Internet presences, and available shipping information, to ensure each listed company was actually conducting business in the U.S. Ultimately, I learned how woefully incomplete was last September’s list. My present evaluation finds only three corporations that produce the majority of their display products in the U.S. – Daktronics, Watchfire and YESCO. Daktronics and Watchfire A recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report said rising labor costs have caused the country’s astute business managers to shift their export-manufacturing focus to highprofit, high-technology products. Since 2010, a U.S. government analysis said, Chinese high-tech exports to the U.S. have increased by 24%. The WSJ report also said China’s skilled labor force, large domestic market and networks of suppliers offset any rising wages or the effects of a stronger currency. 38 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / SEPTEMBER 2013 / also produce some components in their own (separate) factories in China. YESCO Electronics produces most of its LED-display products entirely in the U.S., but, in 2013, it began to import some finished product from a Chinese manufacturer. Certain companies purchase display components from Chinese manufacturers, and assemble completed displays in the U.S., but the majority of U.S. suppliers purchase finished goods from Chinese or Taiwanese companies and resell them in the U.S. Apart from the three U.S. manufacturers, my list comprises 82 confirmed, resellers of LED digital displays in the U.S. Because I could not verify they deliver products to the U.S. marketplace, another 26 purported display providers are not on the list. The export/import data provides revealing insights. For example, 42 Chinese manufacturers produce the majority of the imported LED display products sold in the U.S. The most prolific is Shanghai Sansi (Shanghai). Next is LEDman Optoelectronics (Shenzhen, China; Tampa, FL). Both companies work with multiple resellers, and sell directly to display users in the world marketplace. Obviously, the manufacture of LED display technology is firmly established in China. Numerous digital-display types exist, and my list doesn’t distinguish between them. Note, however, that much of the LEDman-supplied product goes to the digital-billboard marketplace, through either Formetco (Duluth, GA) or Media Resources Inc. (Toronto). The third largest exporter to the U.S., Opto-Tech (Hsinchu, Taiwan), delivers the majority of its product to CBS Outdoor (New York City) for use as digital billboards or as

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - September 2013

Signs of the Times - September 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Who Uses the Phone Book?
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review - DGS 3D POP store system
Technology Review - KIP C7800 poster printer
Design Matters
New Products
When the Cheering Starts
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
Starting at the Bottom
LED Lamps for Box/Cabinet Signs
The Aria’s 260-ft. Pylon Sign
Industry News
Advertising index
Editorially speaking

Signs of the Times - September 2013