Ecklund Outdoor Dives into Digital Outdoor with Watchfire Veteran Army Master Parachutist Deploys Digital Billboard in Brainerd, MN

January 8, 2009

DANVILLE, Ill. and BRAINERD, Minn. – As a former Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army’s Green Beret and Ranger units, Clark Ecklund made 117 parachute jumps to serve his country, but he never imagined taking the plunge as the first digital billboard operator in Minnesota’s Crow Wing County. Ecklund, an entrepreneur and Vietnam War veteran, installed a 19mm 10’x30’ digital LED billboard manufactured by Watchfire Digital Outdoor ( on Minnesota State Highway 371, four miles north of Brainerd.

The new billboard was installed on a two-sided structure located on a highly traveled road where 23,000 vehicles pass daily on their way to and from Minnesota’s northern lakes region. Ecklund Outdoor’s first digital billboard replaces a static billboard on one side of the structure. Plans are on the drawing board to replace the remaining static board with another digital billboard by 2010.

Political candidates, auto dealerships, insurance companies and other local businesses are advertising on Ecklund’s billboard, thanks to the efforts of marketing manager and nephew Jay Ecklund, a retired captain of the Minnesota Army National Guard. Customers, who refer to it as “Jay’s sign” have commented about its striking visuals, which create advertising messages with impact.

Digital billboards are appealing to outdoor advertisers because they can be updated simply and remotely in minutes, using software and a high-speed Internet connection. Digital billboards also allow multiple advertisements on the same board, and because the messages can be changed quickly, they work well for advertisers with time-sensitive messages or multiple product lines.

Jay Ecklund says Watchfire’s Ignite™ Software is so simple and easy to use that he quickly programs messages on the digital billboard, allowing him more time to visit customers and prospects.

Watchfire Digital Outdoor produces the industry’s only 19mm pixel pitch billboard—which packs 768 LEDs into every sq. ft.—and is capable of producing 281 trillion colors, the most in the industry. It is the only manufacturer that fully encapsulates the LED module in a thick bed of silicone gel, which enables the LED boards to operate in extreme weather conditions: 180+ days completely submerged in water, 60 days in a salt-spray chamber, and temperatures ranging from -40° F to 120° F. In areas where heat and humidity are both high, the silicone gel encapsulation protects the boards from humidity and moisture, greatly improving projected reliability. All Watchfire boards feature unique extruded aluminum cabinetry and a streamlined electronics design that improves operation and simplifies maintenance. Watchfire’s warranty, lead-times, customer support, and no-fee software are considered to be the best in the industry. Watchfire boards comply with the 2006 International Building Code.

About Watchfire Digital Outdoor
Watchfire Digital Outdoor engineers and manufactures the best looking and most durable digital billboards available anywhere. The company is the digital billboard division of Watchfire by Time-O-Matic, which has been manufacturing outdoor electric signs for more than 75 years, has been manufacturing LED signs for 10 years, and has more than 12,000 outdoor LED signs in daily operation throughout North America. Watchfire Digital Outdoor is located in Danville, Ill. with marketing and sales operations in Indianapolis. For more information, go to

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