This week, I’m going to tell you a little bit about a local business that started in a garage just off main street in Brookings – Daktronics. It was founded in 1968 by two South Dakota State University professors – Al Kurtenbach and Duane Sander. Little known fact, when they started the business they didn’t have a product!
In their early years, they looked at making medical equipment before seeing the need for an electronic voting system. Next, they were asked to design an electronic scoreboard for wrestling. The Matside, a three-sided truncated pyramid, was born and the rest, as they say, is history.
Daktronics is now a world-leading designer and manufacturer of scoreboards, large scale video displays, digital billboards and message centers, roadside signage and more. They are even publicly traded on the stock market under the symbol DAKT.
They’re one of the first businesses I wanted to highlight because they just turned 50 years old on December 9th, 2018. Congrats!!! I wonder if these two professors of engineering at SDSU knew that they’d have started a company that would last 50 years?!
Well, Daktronics didn’t just happen to survive for 50 years, they’ve become one of the largest employers in Brookings by employing about 1,500 people in town. That’s out of the roughly 2,700 employees they have worldwide.
They’ve made a name for themselves in many different markets, but one of my favorites is the sports market. My beloved Denver Broncos are a Daktronics customer with a huge video scoreboard in their end zone that was assembled right here in Brookings before being shipped to the Mile High City. And if you watch football’s biggest game in February, you certainly noticed the largest video scoreboard in sports, the Halo display, in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The company is also known for numerous screens installed in Times Square, on the Las Vegas Strip and everywhere in between. But they are also a global company that recently installed a massive display in London’s Piccadilly Circus. They’ve even covered entire buildings in LEDs at China’s Phoenix Island.
Those are the big flashy installations that get a lot of attention. Daktronics provides so many different products you’ve probably seen them all over town as you drive down the street, including outside our own Century 21 office.
The company’s products are also installed at SDSU sporting venues and inside Brookings High School. On a smaller scale, I’ve used their product to support my Gas Out Cancer event for the past 4+ years with a mobile sign.
For more information on one of Brookings’ largest employers, visit their website at www.daktronics.com.