An Interview with Rod Wilson of EMI Signs

Rod Wilson speaks on his experiences in the digital signage industry, from being a Daktronics employee to starting his own business.

How long have you been selling digital signage?

EMI’s CEO, Rod Wilson, has been selling digital signage for over 45 years. Born and raised in South Dakota, Rod went to work with Daktronics immediately after graduating from the University of South Dakota in 1976. He was Daktronics Employee #17, personally working with Al Kurtenbach, Co-Founder of Daktronics, who told him he would be better suited in sales as opposed to engineering. That moment shifted the trajectory of his career and led to the founding of EMI in 1984.

Why do you choose to partner with Daktronics?

Daktronics has incredible quality and customer service and has worked with EMI to create an exclusive product line specifically tailored to the needs of our clients. We require higher brightness than industry standard, and Daktronics LED displays continue to meet our expectations and prove to be a reliable product for our clients.

Tell me about this past year and how it has impacted your business.

2021 was another COVID year for all of us and brought its challenges; however, EMI still found great success in providing our clients what they always need: an advertising medium. Whether in times of crisis or periods of success, businesses need to communicate with their customers, and we’ve been fortunate to provide our clients with the tools to keep their business growing and help them reach more customers in a dynamic way.

2021 has been a record year for Daktronics, and I’m sure you have been busy as well. What do you think has contributed to the boom in digital signage for 2021?

Digital signage has become a more prolific and accepted tool that businesses use to advertise. Cities and states have become more flexible in working with businesses to entitle, permit and design regulations that allow them to do these sorts of projects. EMI has actively worked with multiple cities on billboard ordinances and has seen great strides in municipal and business cooperation to approve and permit new projects that allow this industry to continue to grow.

Do you have any predictions? What do you see coming in the next year or two?

EMI has started to expand nationally and will be taking our services even further across the nation to provide sign upgrades, new signs and the gold standard of maintenance and programming that we have been able to perfect here in California. Just recently we were told by OutFront that “EMI is, by far, the most competent and reliable 3rd party scheduler we (OutFront) have ever had.” – Tom Beach, OutFront Digital Supervisor

Do you plan to do anything different in the future?

EMI will be expanding geographically, marketwise, technology-wise and application-wise. We have set up the foundation for our company to provide every type of LED advertising service our clients need.

What do you think have been keys to your success in the signage industry?

Our CEO, Rod Wilson, has set an unparalleled standard of excellence for EMI, establishing a level of care and consideration for each project that is hard to find elsewhere. As a sole service provider, EMI makes sure every project is as perfect as possible for the client and their specific business. We handle everything from the design to entitlements, facilitating how advertising can work logistically for our clients, in addition to providing turnkey maintenance and software programming. We are here from the beginning to end and stand ready to continue to provide service when the time comes for that sign to be upgraded. We take pride in that standard of excellence which has allowed EMI to forge relationships that stand the test of time.


If you are interested in being a top level sign company, contact your local sales rep to start strategizing your sales efforts for 2022. Not a partner yet and want to learn how? Click below.

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