Digital Display manufacturer suggestions
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Looking for a really dependable, fair priced Digital display manufacturer.

Keep in mind l'm located 1.5 hours from Toronto, Ontario Canada.

My main concern is not price but dependability and great customer service.

I've worked with a couple companies now and am not happy with either of them.

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hard to go wrong with watchfire

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Have to agree with Watchfire. It's the brand we sell and they have excellent customer service

Chris

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Vantage LED, better price, betters software. very few service issues. I've seen a lot of watchfire displays failing recently in our area

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did you try Sunitron?

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Whomever you choose, make sure they're a right fit for you. Request quotes from several manufacturers (make sure you're getting the same thing on all quotes and specify by matrix (not size as there are a lot of games played by people in the industry). Request something like a Full Color & Single Color 16mm 80x160 Double Face and a Full Color & Single Color 20mm 64x128 Double Face. Ask a rep to call you and discuss the systems (what features & benefits do they have over/above the competition, when something goes wrong - how will you and the client be supported - does the 5 year parts warranty also cover on-site service - questions like this are invaluable as you want to not only be sure you'll get supported by the manufacturer by both sales and technical support but also that the manufacturer will back their systems completely (both parts and on-site service coverage).

Keep in mind, I work with Vantage LED (and I chose to work with them over others because the team is amazing and they're changing up the industry for the better). There are a lot of manufacturers out there, some good but many who are horrible. Take the time to ask around (like you're doing here), research, and make sure the company will be an overall great fit for both you and your client. If you're able to - go to the ISA Expo in Orlando this year as there are several great manufacturers at the show and you can really take a close look at both the product and the people you'd be working with. An LED sign is a big investment (for both your client and your company) and it's a nightmare to be saddled with a brand who fails both of you as your company is the one who takes the hardest hit from a bad LED Sign (damage to both your brand and reputation in the area).

I have a blog (www.vantageled.blogspot.com) and we just posted a summary of the blogs from the last two years. It's worth taking a look as we work hard to keep it facts-based and help both people in the industry (sign companies, LED sign manufacturers & sales, and others) and end-users.

Good luck and feel free to drop me (or others on here) a question. This is a great group of people who are really helpful and won't hesitate to tell you what they think (one way or the other). Happy New Year!

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I have financed all the major manf. boards and I have had a quite a few of my sign shops switching from Watchfire to Lightking and Milliken boards . They have all said that their is no problems with them. they are a little less expensive and only take 2-3 weeks to get delivered . You might want to try them.

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we sell the quality Digital signsage from Europe : rotapanel

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I was actually going to suggest Vantage, AND I was going to tell you about Fernwood Capital! But it looks like Vantage, and Joe from Fernwood beat me to it!! Fernwood will actually finance/lease for a Church and a non profit! Nobody else that I have found, and I have searched high and low, will do a lease or finance for a Church or non profit. Joe is FANTASTIC to work with as well. Vantage has the only 5 year parts AND labor that I have found in the industry as well.

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I've tried to get quotes multiple times from watchfire. First few times they just blew me off. After a couple years I tried again. They won't sell to me because they already have good relationships with sign companies in my area. They said if I want to use them I would need to go through one of the competing sign companies that they already use. I guess they have plenty of customers and don't need any more. Oh well, there's plenty others to choose from. Daktronics has pretty good customer service in my experience. I've also talked to Optec and seen a lot of their displays lately.

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Thank you for all the replies guys.

I've also had no response from Watchfire.

I've been using a local company called Media Resources (formally Hamilton Digital before buyout) but haven't had a good experience so far.

Any thoughts about Yesco?

Daktronics have also been knocking on my door.

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I don't know why anyone has a problem getting a response from Watchfire. I never had a problem and there is one other sign company in our small town (25,000) that sells
Watchfire. Be aware that if you deal with Daktronics that they have a reputation of stealing your clients.

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My first preference would be watchfire. Out of all of my digital signs, I have never had to service a watchfire one. I have had multiple service issues with daktronics signs. Daktronics has also gone behind my back for direct sales. We have extreme weather in my location, today is -28° below zero with almost a -60° below zero wind chill!

I had a client that shopped all over the Internet for a digital sign. This was after working with this client for over two years with multiple drawings and sales calls! Vantage was one of the people they contacted. Evidently they have a direct to end-user division of their company. It may be two separate corporations, or some type of other nut under the shell game. They also must like watchfire, because the same company gave them a price on a watchfire sign! I'm not sure they will be doing that anymore as I brought it up with my watchfire rep who has been very good to work with.

Edited by shooter

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My first preference would be watchfire. Out of all of my digital signs, I have never had to service a watchfire one. I have had multiple service issues with daktronics signs. Daktronics has also gone behind my back for direct sales. We have extreme weather in my location, today is -28° below zero with almost a -60° below zero wind chill!

I had a client that shopped all over the Internet for a digital sign. This was after working with this client for over two years with multiple drawings and sales calls! Vantage was one of the people they contacted. Evidently they have a direct to end-user division of their company. It may be two separate corporations, or some type of other nut under the shell game. They also must like watchfire, because the same company gave them a price on a watchfire sign! I'm not sure they will be doing that anymore as I brought it up with my watchfire rep who has been very good to work with.

It's possible the client reached out to ADvantage LED (a dealer in Texas who sells Vantage LED, and other brands). Vantage LED (like most manufacturers, but unfortunately not all) will typically tell end-users we don't sell direct and hand them off to a local dealer or let them know dealers in their area they can reach out to. There's enough confusion in the market as it stands, unfortunately some sign companies add to this (but thankfully, on the whole, people are straightforward). Ultimately the relationship with a manufacturer is going to depend on the rep you're working with and the team behind the sales rep supporting your business and the end-user. This is why it's really important to call up the manufacturers directly and get a feel for whatever seems best for you and your company.

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My first preference would be watchfire. Out of all of my digital signs, I have never had to service a watchfire one. I have had multiple service issues with daktronics signs. Daktronics has also gone behind my back for direct sales. We have extreme weather in my location, today is -28° below zero with almost a -60° below zero wind chill!

I had a client that shopped all over the Internet for a digital sign. This was after working with this client for over two years with multiple drawings and sales calls! Vantage was one of the people they contacted. Evidently they have a direct to end-user division of their company. It may be two separate corporations, or some type of other nut under the shell game. They also must like watchfire, because the same company gave them a price on a watchfire sign! I'm not sure they will be doing that anymore as I brought it up with my watchfire rep who has been very good to work with.

It's possible the client reached out to ADvantage LED (a dealer in Texas who sells Vantage LED, and other brands). Vantage LED (like most manufacturers, but unfortunately not all) will typically tell end-users we don't sell direct and hand them off to a local dealer or let them know dealers in their area they can reach out to. There's enough confusion in the market as it stands, unfortunately some sign companies add to this (but thankfully, on the whole, people are straightforward). Ultimately the relationship with a manufacturer is going to depend on the rep you're working with and the team behind the sales rep supporting your business and the end-user. This is why it's really important to call up the manufacturers directly and get a feel for whatever seems best for you and your company.

I was actually going to call my Vantage rep today and ask him about the selling directly to end users thing, because we just had that specific conversation last week. He told me that Vantage wholesales ONLY to sign companies, so I was a little confused by the post here. I am very glad you cleared that up. I have, very trustingly, given project names to manufacturers before only to have them go behind my back and sell directly to them, so that is a HUGE deal with me. I don't ever give names out anymore regardless. Whether it's an LED, a set of letters or whatever. (One of my largest customers swears they purchased formed plastic letters from a company that swears they only wholesale to sign companies. I don't think my customer would lie to me!! He has been my customer since we opened our doors.) I say it's for a Church, or it's for a school, or it's for job # whatever. Never a name again. What made it worse is they didn't have the balls to tell me they were going to steal my customer!! "oh no, we only sell wholesale not to end users" ....... Some of the manufacturers thought they could get rich by doing the installs too. I think some of them have found that to be far from the truth (like we all already knew). I know some of their quality surely has gone to crap. There is a board around here that has not worked properly since the day it was installed (not going to name the manufacturer on here). Every time I go by (pretty much every day) there is a new problem with it. Karma is a BIT@@!! I'm getting ready to purchase a Vantage board if a better price/warranty doesn't come in from the other manufacturer I requested a quote from. I have done a lot of research on them and their boards - I don't think their warranty can be beat, that's for sure. I will keep you posted on quality once I get the board here.

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I love karma...... :kiss: and as far as being straightforward, I have been told that I qualify.

Let me relate my experiences on the above subject. I had a very high maintenance client that was cheap. Unfortunately, they outnumber the high maintenance clients who were willing to pay for the service by about 8 to 1. I met with this client on multiple occasions and did multiple designs over a two-four year period. By multiple, I mean somewhere between 10 and 20 different options. it got to the point at the end when this client called and wanted another option. I had reached my breaking point, and told the client, " I have already priced out and designed every conceivable option for your digital sign, it's time to poop or get off the pot" (insert straightforward icon here :headbang: ) needless to say, I didn't hear anything from this client for approximately a year. But if you research the old threads on message centers, there was a point in the bid process where daktronics had approached my client directly, and got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I then hear from the client who says, we are ready to order our sign and wanted to give you an opportunity to bid on it because of all the time and effort you put into it. I thought, what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound and jumped back in to the gladiator arena, with a freshly sharpened sword. It looked like I had the job, when my client started shopping on the Internet with my latest proposal. He came across advantage sign, a company I had never heard of. I told my client I would install whatever sign he wanted, but if he had trouble with it it was his problem, and I would work with them on fixing it but it wouldn't be at the top of my priority list. He had been taken in by the virtual pixel sales pitch, the little bit of research that I did on it told me it was smoke and mirrors. I also did a little more research on the company and found out that they had the same product on the wholesale division? WTF kind of company is going to ship a sign from Texas to Minnesota and leave the customer to figure out how to install it and operate it. Upon doing my due diligence, I found out that they are two separate companies owned by the same person. This may have changed now, but at the time it was too risky for me to explore further. I will give them credit however on legitimate discount pricing to me as a sign company opposed to what they gave my client, who gave me copies of everything. Again, I told my client I would install whatever sign he wanted but I recommended the watchfire sign because of their no service issues on all of my past signs. thought I had the job again :wallbash: .Then, the company in Texas supplies my client with the same watchfire product bid! once I contacted my rep and showed him the pricing on his product that the company in Texas was bidding out, my bid got adjusted accordingly, and I would assume a stern talking :spank: to and policies were changed with watchfire. I got the job, installed the job, got paid for the job, and moved forward. I think, it is still legal in the People's Republic of Minnesota, to install a sign without a license. :rock_band: Didn't really follow up on it much from there, but am always willing to share my experiences with my fellow sign companies. I have found this board to be an excellent place to do that and also it seems to have started to implement real change with the digital companies.I think, I have only been moderated once or twice on this board, a refreshing change for the straightforward outspoken type. :amerflag: It has always been my policy to only do business with strictly wholesale sign companies, when subbing out this type of job,or other type of lighted sign job that I may hire a sub to build.

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From what I have been able to gather, Advantage is the retail arm of Vantage. I've installed a couple of their signs for customers. Seems to be a decent product. Steel cabinet instead of aluminum, which make them really heavy. Also compared their 16mm to my 16mm Watchfire, in my opinion the Watchfire has a better visual quality. Just my 2 cents worth.

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*******

Edited by Kgirl
Non-Board Vendor

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**************

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   Watchfire is the only company I trust or recommend.  I've been factory trained by and serviced

all the other big boys also.  I  listened to all the other brands at all the sign shows too.

 

   In the end, the customer will spend a lot of money for the signs.  They want that sign to work.

When there is a problem, they expect and demand immediate repair. 

   Watchfire is 24 hr 7 days American English speaking support.  No nonsense, No questions asked.

Watchfire will also get service to that customer anytime and anyplace.  

( We recently went 5 hrs away on a Holiday weekend to service one of their customers )

 That is their commitment to customer service.

 

Watchfire Estimates ?? 

I have complete estimates within hours and Full media proposals to show customers the next day

 

   The "V" company called me and asked for service on one of their signs that could not be fixed

by their vendor.  The sign was out for 6 weeks at that time and they had replaced numerous parts.

 I explained my rates and what was needed.   " V" said I was to expensive.  

That sign is still not working, now 8 months later. 

   The customer got screwed ( F%?*ked ). I do not want to deal with manufacturers who can not

support their products. The customer will blame you, not the manufacturer.

7 year warrantee is useless unless it is backed with full support

 

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