How to Find a Leading Digital Billboards Supplier

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What Makes a "Leader" in Digital Billboards Manufacturing?

Too Many Digital Billboards Leaders

Recently I find a lot of new companies claiming on their websites to be "Leader in Digital Billboards Manufacturing, or to be a "Leading Digital Billboards Supplier".

I don't exaclty know how to define a leading company, but I know that they are not: the leader is only one, while here too many companies are claiming the title. And most of them didn't even existed a year ago.

So I started to ask myself, what really makes a company a leader in its own field? I tried to learn more about the different definitions of "leading Company" and "Leadership" and this is what I found:

Forbes Magazine

"The World's Leading Companies, is the new comprehensive ranking of the world's biggest companies, measured by a composite of sales, profits, assets and market value."

So for Forbes Magazine, a leading company in any market is a company which has the highest averaged performance when considering 4 precise indicators: (1) Sales, (2) Profits, (3) Assets and (4) Market Value

According to this definition, the World Leader in LED billboards Manufacturing is Daktronics. Infact, since 2001, independent market research from iSuppli Corp has consistently ranked Daktronics number one with approximately 30 percent of the entire worldwide LED video display market share.

Wikipedia

"Leadership has been written as the process of social influence in which one person (or Company?) can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task."

This description is more vague and it doesn't list any precise indicator or measure. So in my interpretation of the Wikipedia definition, a leading company in a market is the one which provide most tools and support to its Customers to accomplish their goals.

According to this interpretation, the World Leader in Digital Billboards Manufacturing is Barco. Infact, since 1934 (!) Barco designs and develops visualization solutions for a variety of selected professional markets: medical imaging, media & entertainment, infrastructure & utilities, traffic & transportation, defense & security, education & training and corporate AV.

Business Week Magazine

"Here's our list of the top 100 global technology outfits -- on a price-performance basis"

For Business Week Magazine, a leading company is the one that is either (1) The Biggest, in terms of sales, (2) The Fastest Growing, in terms of revenue growth or (3) The Most Profitable, in terms of return on equity

According to this definition, a company can be a "leader" from 3 different points of view. But again the fist indicator is Sales/Revenue.

In this case, Barco seems to be the leader with revenue with EUR 638 million (in 2009). But we must consider that Barco has a widest range of visualization products, while Daktronics even if smaller (with revenues of EUR 461 million in 2009) is focused on LED video walls only. So I would say Daktronics is the winner again here.

Leading What?

So far, whichever definition you look at, there is no one that fits those new companies:

  • Sales: They are not the biggest in sales, since Barco and Daktronics lead the way and the battle for the "leader" title is basically a private matter between them
  • Profits: These new companies often claim to have competitive prices, so I can safely assume that they are not leader in terms of profits either
  • Growth: Since the number of these companies reselling Digital Billboards is doubled in the past 2 years, they also can not be the leader in terms of revenue growth: it would be impossibile with so many other competing companies flooding the market and offering the exact same product, features and services
  • Assets: They can not be leaders in terms of assets since they are Partnerships and not Corporations, therefore without deposited capital or assets by definition. All liabilities are covered with the personal assets of the partners. Well, if they have any.
  • Support: I also dare to say that they can not be the company which provide most tools and support to their Customers, as Wikipedia's definition would request. Based on the time they have been on the market (12-24 months) I doubt they developed more tools than Barco did in 76 years

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

"A first or principal performer of a group"

According to this definition, a leader is always defined in comparison to a group. I personally find this is a good definition because it puts things in perspective.

Maybe you are not a World Leader, but you still can be a leader if you take a group small enough. For example you could be a leader among your friends.

This is probably the same definition that the new self-proclaimed leaders in LED screens are using... they just failed to mention the group they belong to. Here's how a more accurate version should look like:

  • Geographic Area Leadership
    "We're leaders in Revenues, among companies in our neighborhood"
  • Age Group Leadership
    "We're leaders in Support, among start-ups with less than 12 months
  • Company Size Leadership
    "We're leaders in Assets, among businesses with 3 employees

What to Do Next Time

Next time you find a company claiming to be the "leader in digital billboards" (or in any other field for that matter), just ask them: "Leader according to what?"

  • In terms of Sales / Revenue?
  • Profits?
  • Growth Rate?
  • Assets?
  • Support?

If They Don't Know

If they don't know what to answer right away, stop wasting your time. When people don't know why they claim to be "leader" it can not be a good sign.

If They Do Know

Instead, if they do know what to answer, there are two options:

  • you are talking to Barco or Daktronics
  • they read this article too, and they prepared a canned reply

If you want to discover how to recognize a real leading company from a hoax, don't miss the next post.

How to Choose a Digital Billboards Supplier

If you want to discover how to recognize a real digital billboards supplier from a hoax, you will find the following articles very interesting:

 

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How to Recognize a Real LED Screen Manufacturer from a Hoax

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How to Recognize a Real LED Screen Manufacturer from a Hoax

LED Screen Manufacturer or Hoax?

Following last week's article, entitled "Are You a LED video walls Manufacturer or a Hoax?" I received several interesting comments. Each one provided a slightly different angle, but basically all posed the same question: "How do I distinguish a real LED screen manufacturer from a hoax?"

How Not to Get Cheated

First of all, let's try to understand what it means to be a "LED screens manufacturer".

In addition to having the ability to select and mount LEDs, being a LED screens manufacturer means first of all have the competencies to develop a proprietary electronic control that can manage these LEDs to produce a realistic image.

The electronic control system consists of of the following:

  1. A Printed Circuit Board (PCB), on which depends the effectiveness with which the LEDs are run, and therefore ultimately the quality of the LED screen
  2. A Control and Management Software, with which the electronic board is controlled to determine and change the settings for brightness, contrast, gamma, diagnostics, remote control etc...

Developing these two components requires very advanced electronic competencies, that in Italy only 3 or 4 companies have developed. EuroDisplay was the first to develop this technology in 1978 (for mono-color display) then evolved into true full color screens.

How to Recognise a Hoax

To distinguish one real manufacturer producer from an import company, the best method is to visit their production site. Pretty easy, right?

If this is a real manufactuer, in fact, you will invariably find all the following tools. Since each of these devices requires a large investment, they are very hard to find in an import company, who would not know what to do with them:

1) Production Area

Trading companies are often quite small, consisting only in a sales office. In case there is a larger space, it is usually a warehouse for the goods in transit – at EuroDisplay for example, the manufacturing plant has a surface of over 4.500 square meters.

Area Produttiva

2) Office of Electronic Design

Any digital billboards manufacturer, has first of all a team of electronic engineers, using one or more professional design softwares – at EuroDisplay for example we use the world's best software Protel®, which license costs about 6.000 euros (www.protel.com).

Ufficio di Progettazione Elettronica

3) Office of Mechanical Design

LED screens manufacturers also have a team of mechanical engineers, using a professional 3D CAD design software – at EuroDisplay we use the leading 3D software SolidWorks®, which license costs about 7.000 euros (www.solidworks.com).

Ufficio di Progettazione Meccanica

4) Electronic Microscope

Used to verify the quality of industrial production in printed circuit boards and soldering of electronic components, particularly the most critical – at EuroDisplay we use the state-of-the-art Vision Mantis® Electronic, priced at around 1.000 euros (www.visioneng.com).

Microscopio Elettronico

5) Climatic Chamber

A LED screen manufacturer must necessarily tests printed circuit boards and semi-assembled at precise temperature and humidity values, to ensure they can withstand the weather when installed outdoor – at EuroDisplay we use an Angelantoni® (leader in climatic chambers) worth about 15.000 euros (www.angelantoni.it).

Camera Climatica

6) Chroma Meter

The Chroma Meter is a camera that allows measurement of the perfect calibration of the LEDs to ensure that the colors are more vivid and realistic – at EuroDisplay for example we use a CS-100A Konica-Minolta® from the Japanese manufacturer Konica-Minolta, worth approximately 8.000 euros (www.konicaminolta.com).

Chroma Meter

7) Oscilloscope

The oscilloscope is an electronic test instrument that allows signal voltages to be viewed, usually as a two-dimensional graph of one or more electrical potential differences – at EuroDisplay we use a Tektronix® TDS 5034 from the world's leader manufacturer Tektronix (USA), worth about 9.000 euros (www.tek.com).

Oscilloscopio

Other Ways to Recognize a Hoax

There are other ways to recognize a hoax... do you know any? Use the form below to let us know!

Contacts and More Information

For more information, call us now at the No. +39/011-954-1015, or write to info@EuroDisplay.com. Click Here for the Quotation Online or visit the Clients page to see our latest installations and references.

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Are You a LED Screens Manufacturer or a Hoax?

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Ma Tu Sei un Produttore Italiano o una Bufala?

LED Screens Manufacturer or Hoax?

Lately I find every day on the internet a new "manufacturer" of LED screens which I was not aware of. All these new producers say that they have decades of experience and have manufactured and installed thousands of square meters of electronic billboards. They are all highly trained, very reliable and with an unparalleled experience.

Too bad that these thousands of square meters, these hundreds of installations worldwide and dozens of these various applications have always been made for third parties. And therefore they can not show any reference. No photo, no Customer feedback. Nothing.

That really sucks. Imagine how annoying it must be to have manufactured and installed all these screens and be able to show only a few pictures.

Manufacturers for Over 5, 10, 15 Years... More or Less!

Not to mention the fact that during the previous ten years of activities they must have worked on another planet, because a simple VAT number check or annual report check with the local chambre of commerce, would always shows that:

  1. There is no annual report because the company was established less than 12 months ago

    But weren't they on the market for over 10 years during which they have gained unmatched experience that in comparison General Electric is a novice?

  2. They are Partnerships and not Corporations (therefore without deposited capital), and therefore all the liabilities are covered with the personal assets of the partners. Well, if they have any.

    Did they really have installed all these thousands of square meters under contract with third parties, although not establishing a Corporation?

    Hey, I believe that everybody is free to do what they want, but these are expensive equipments we are talking about! Is it possible that all these previous Customers they had, never asked for better guarantees than a Partnership can offer?

  3. The VAT number is not available on the website so it is impossible to carry out a thorough check-up

    May not have been informed that in most European Countries since 2001 it is required to expose the VAT number on the homepage (article 35, paragraph 1 of decree DPR 633/72).

    Have they been too busy to install LED billboards around the world? Or is it that they are trying to avoid detailed audits by potential Customers?

I do not know, I smell a hoax ... What do you think? Write your comment using the form below.

Post Scriptum

And why anyways the texts that I read on these sites are all similar to those that I wrote for EuroDisplay in the last 8 years? If only I had known these companies years ago I could have "taken inspiration" from the content of their websitse and I'd have saved a lot of work! :)

Contacts and More Information

For more information, call us now at the No. +39/011-954-1015, or write to info@EuroDisplay.com. Click Here for the Quotation Online or visit the Clients page to see our latest installations and references.

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How to Discover If Your LED Screens Supplier Is Reliable

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How do you make sure that your LED Screen supplier is as reliable as they say they are? This is a very important question, which anyone considering to purchase a LED Screen should ask themselves. Here are two true stories from LED billboards owners which you can learn from:

The Story of Mr Nikos from Cyprus

A few months ago we received a request from Mr Nikos from Cyprus. One of our best sales representatives (who is in charge of that region), started to follow-up the request, providing advice and support as per our standard.

Despite all our efforts, at first Mr Nikos seemed not to trust us and we couldn't understand why. When his order arrived it was a great moral satisfaction despite the fact we still didn't know why he was so sceptical at first.

We only discovered the reason behind his doubts when he sent us the feedback-form which all our Customers fill-in one month after the product has been shipped. From his answers we finally understood the reasons for his scepticism…

Send the Money Now Because Tomorrow We Are Broke

We learned that, at the time of our first contacts, he had a hard time trusting any LED video walls supplier on the market because 5 months earlier he had ordered a LED screen from a company only to discover - after he made the down payment - that the company had closed due to the economic crisis (you can read his entire review in the "Clients" page).

When you lose thousands of Euros (10.000, 30.000 or even 50.000) with a down payment to a company that 2 weeks later files for bankruptcy, I'm sure anyone would have a trust-issue.

Is It that Much Better if they Close after 6 Months?

But what happens if the supplier manages to deliver the screen to you, but then closes after 1 month, 6 months or even 1 year? Will this make you feel much better?

Chances are that you will not be so mad because at least you got the LED screen, but you probably won't be thrilled either. Who will provide you with technical support from that point on? Where will you find the spare parts for the LED screen? What if there is a problem that your technician can not resolve on his own?

Buying Expensive Products Is Like Choosing a Spouse

When you purchase high value equipment, such as an LED screen, you are not just buying a product. You are also choosing a partner company. It's almost like a marriage, so you'd better make sure that your partner will be there for you when you need him.

Would it have been possible for Mr Nikos to predict that his supplier would go bankrupt? How could he have avoided wasting his money? Is there a way for you or anyone to avoid the same, disastrous pitfall?

Luckily governments of most Countries put several tools at the disposal of potential Customers that want to check the reliability and solidity of potential suppliers before they make their investment, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises…

The Story of Mr Antonio

A few days ago I met a couple of potential Customers that came to visit our facilities. I was introducing them the Company, but after I said only a few words, one of them, Mr Antonio, stopped me and said:

"Fabio, please don't waste your time and mine as well. I studied EuroDisplay's annual report and those of your competitors well before planning this visit. There is nothing about the Company that you can tell me that I don't already know".

"The reason why we are here is because you have the best annual report among Italian suppliers and your productivity-per-employee is approximately double than other Italian suppliers. So don't waste time to describe me the Company and let's talk about the deal instead."

I was quite shocked by the sincerity of his words and accurateness of his analysis… so I didn't ever mention a single word about the Company anymore that day.

How to Make Sure Your LED Screen Supplier Is Healthy

Now, my guess is that if Mr Nikos from Cyprus would have had the chance to look at the annual report of his supplier before he made the down payment, he probably would have noticed that the company was not healthy to survive the economic crisis. He would have made a more informed choice and maybe he would have considered another supplier - saving thousands of euros.

How to Get the Annual Reports of Your Suppliers

Let's say that you now want to check the reports of several potential suppliers. Would you know how to do it? Who do you call? Where do you get them?

It's a Public Document, Not Covered by Privacy

The easiest way is simply to ask your potential supplier to provide you with his annual report. It doesn't get simpler than that!

In fact, the information found on an annual report is of public domain by law, at least in Italy. So if you hear excuses such as "Oh, ehm… I can not send it because it is protected by privacy regulations", than start to wonder why they don't want to send it to you.

The law does not force companies to make their reports available to Customers (unless they are traded in the stock-exchange), but if they had a good annual report, they certainly wouldn't have any problem forwarding it to you. Actually why wouldn't they show it to anyone who asks for it if they had nothing to hide?

In case your potential supplier is not so collaborative - and in case you still want to work with them - the official way to get the document is by contacting a Chamber of Commerce in the Country of the supplier.

How to Get Any Annual Report from the Chamber of Commerce

For example, if you are evaluating an Italian supplier, you can contact any branch of the Chamber of Commerce or simply follow these 3 simple steps (valid for Italian suppliers only):

  • Download this form, print it and fill-it with the information required
  • Make a bank transfer of EUR 4,50 to:

    Intesa Sanpaolo Spa
    IBAN: IT68 I030 6909 4006 1524 6092 056 / SWIFT: BCITIT33100
    Beneficiary: Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato e Agricoltura di Milano
    Causal: Certificates
  • Send the form and a copy of the payment via fax at the number: +39 / 02-8515-4733

Information Empowers You

If you don't want to waste your money, next time you consider purchasing a digital billboard, make sure you invest in the right supplier. Don't listen to a salesman that tells you how good they are and how bad the competition. Take the time to look at the numbers.

Use the procedure above to request all the annual reports of your potential suppliers and compare them, side by side. And if you have any doubts on how to read the data, ask your accountant to help you out - I promise it will be well worth it.

With EuroDisplay It's Even Easier

As a further tangible proof of its ultra-decennal commitment to Total Quality and transparency, EuroDisplay makes its annual report publicly available for free to anyone who will request it. Just fill in this form and send it to us via fax at the number +39 / 011-954-1017. So you have one less report to ask for.

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