Indicate 204 on inquiry card
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them work directly in
On the plant floor,
Daktronics has been
moving towards more
systems since the early
1990s. Prior to that,
the company was much
smaller and much less
automated. To improve
scalability, the company
has also been working on
improving its Lean tech-
niques for about eight
years. Previously, they
operated on a typical
batch and queue production style, which was effective, but couldn’t
keep up with company growth. Today, about 90 percent of produc-
tion is made to order.
Daktronics doesn’t just build the display boards — it also designs
the entire system that runs them. About half of the product development budget for the company is spent in software design. Daktronics
team members work with clients through ordering, design, installation and any ongoing service the display may need.
And when it comes to the displays, they keep getting bigger.
“Some of the sports competition really does come through in the
boards that teams are purchasing,” says Sheila Anderson, CFO and
Treasurer of Daktronics. “Everyone wants the biggest and the best.”
One of the driving factors keeping such a huge company in South
Dakota? The pipeline of engineers they recruit and train from South
Dakota State University (SDSU), which is located just down the street.
“I think SDSU is a really good source of talent,” says Anderson.
“We have internship programs that help utilize the talents from
SDSU as well as the other universities in the area.” Many of the engineers on staff are graduates of SDSU, which is a great competitive
advantage for the company, especially in a state with almost prob-lematically-low unemployment.
“If there’s a gap in terms of the talent pipeline, it’s into some of our
more professional positions,” adds Matt Kurtenbach, Vice President
of Manufacturing at Daktronics. “If we have a midlevel position
open, for whatever reason, a new grad isn’t necessarily the best candidate for that, so that can be a challenge.” Kurtenbach says. He adds
that with aging populations and retirements, it’s getting harder and
harder to find quality replacements simply because the unemployment rate in the area is so low.
“We certainly train unskilled folks on manufacturing methods, but
when you get into some of the more skilled positions, manufacturers in the area are having a hard time finding welders and machinists. We find ourselves doing a lot more training than we’d like to,”
In spite of the low unemployment rate, Anderson explains that
there are a lot of economic benefits to doing business in the Sioux
Falls area. Aside from being so close to several universities, South
Dakota also has low corporate tax rates that make doing business
more affordable. “Coupled with a great quality of life, it is cost beneficial for us to be here compared to other locations,” she says.