We used to sell a lot of Time-O-Matic message centers, and did so for a long time until a critical point where the company screwed up and lost our business. They refused to go by any kind of dealership program model. We had a competitor selling the units at cost, with no markup, just to get the rest of a sign job. It's a pretty sad thing when you see an electronic message center get installed under a cheap, POS sign cabinet.
After the Time-O-Matic fiasco, we started selling Adaptive & McKay units. For high end full video solutions, we're using Barco. Adaptive Displays is getting their own full motion video products ready, so that will be good.
Daktronics makes some really great products. I was very impressed with their booth at the ISA show this past April in Las Vegas. However, I don't feel comfortable in selling their products because Dak has a habit of going around the backs of sign companies and selling direct to customers. They don't strictly adhere to a dealer program. If they did, we would probably sell lots more of their stuff.
Others not familiar with the issue of message centers may ask, "why does someone need to pay a middle man in a sign company for a message center?" There are several reasons. First, the message center normally has to be incorporated into an overall sign package. You're not just going to stick what amounts to a giant TV set by itself up on a pole. Message centers have installation and service issues. It's better to deal with a qualified company close by who can service that expensive product immediately. Customers have to be trained how to use the product. We do that. On top of that, we work in extra warranty deals above what the message center manufacturer offers. With all of those factors, the markup is justifiable. If a sign company cannot get any markup on a message center product then the message center product is not worth carrying at all. You're not going to get enough profit from other sign work in the package to cover what happens with the message centers. Technical problems can happen often. If you sell a message center at cost you're cutting your throat financially.