Growing Up In The Static Industry

Earlier this month we sat down with Mike Derby, Owner of Dakota Outdoor Advertising in North Dakota, to hear his story of growing up with the traditional static billboards of his youth to the shift to digital the industry is seeing.

The interview with Mike Derby, Dakota Outdoor Advertising


Mike Derby with Dakota Outdoor Advertising, I’ve been involved with our billboard company in western North Dakota for a little over three years. Prior to that, I actually grew up in the business. Our family moved to Rapid City, South Dakota in 1965. My dad was hired to run what was then Veely Outdoor Advertising. I literally grew up, you say from the ground up, I was below ground actually digging the holes by hand to put the billboards up. I then graduated to picking up paper on the ground when they were scraping the poster, then posting, actually hauling buckets of paste up. I grew up in that industry, and the digital world absolutely blows my mind every day. The fact that I can go on and look at a webcam and look at what’s running in real time, it’s absolutely spectacular.

How has going digital allowed you to do things differently than in the past?

We allow our clients to change their ads whenever they want to directly, without our involvement. And you go, “Wow, what could possibly go wrong with that?” My saying is that there’s not a problem until there’s a problem, and my clients love it. Our restaurants are already doing day-parting. One of our restaurants was doing a breakfast special, lunch special and a dinner special. I don’t know if many people are doing that around the country, but we trust people and we’re having fun with it and they love it.

If you were to describe your Daktronics experience, what would you say?

Obviously number one, quality. The service and the fact that there is the system that if something does go wrong you get an alert. There is the ability to call anytime during the day and get somebody to talk to, and the fact that there is a lot of constant contact. People you can count on. When you need them, they’re there for you and that’s always been a big help.

Why did you choose Daktronics over other digital billboard manufacturers?

I grew up in South Dakota, Daktronics is a South Dakota company. I’ve known Duane Sanders and Al Kurtenbach, the founders of the company for a long, long time and so obviously that was the first place I looked. Now, it goes without saying that in a competitive world you have to look at other products and you have to make a decision. At the end of the day, it’s got to be based on quality, service, and reliability and at the end of the day, Daktronics won.

Summing It Up

After growing up in the industry, Mike evolved with the industry and loves the flexibility that the digital world provides. Mike is one of many success stories we have had that demonstrate just why there has been such a push for digital in recent years. If you would like to read some more, just follow this link: Success Stories. Also, if you would like to be the focus of our next interview just be sure to fill out the small form at the bottom of that page.

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