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News | Jan. 28, 2019

Marquee your words

By Jimmy Parrish Environmental Management Division, DLA Installation Operations Richmond

Last fall, two brand new state-of-the-art marquees on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, displayed their first messages in vivid color. The installation of these chromatic communication tools are the culmination of a nearly three-year journey, which involved the efforts of several hard-working individuals. 


“Our last marquees were installed in 2000,”said Jimmy Parrish, primary electronic display board contact, and chief, Environmental Management Division, Defense Logistics Agency Installation Operations Richmond. “They operated on an outdated system, used a dial-up modem to connect, and had two font sizes and only one color choice: white.”  


Parrish said the older marquees had a tendency to break, and the difficulty in finding companies capable of working on a piece of electronic equipment that old was becoming more costly. In 2015, David Gibson, site director for installation operations decided to replace both marquees.  The initial effort involved Parrish working with Defense Logistics Agency Headquarters for several months at identifying a solution which would not only meet DSCR’s needs, but also those of the DLA enterprise. Detailed technical and operational requirements and specifications were jointly identified. These included display size and performance, available color choices, the frequency and length of message display, and the construction and operation of the supporting metal cabinet. Once the requirements were agreed upon, a statement of work was prepared and issued, and contractor proposals were subsequently considered.


“Finding a new marquee that could meet our technical and visual requirements was a fairly easy task,” Parrish said. “Finding an operating system that could easily interface with our information technology and cyber-security requirements was an entirely different thing.”    


Parrish said the staff from DLA Information Operations Richmond were extremely helpful and supportive. “There were many information operations employees and contractor support staff involved in this project.  Eric Taylor, and especially Kavis Garvin, invested the most time and effort in helping to work out the kinks,” he said.  


The combined team, which also included several helpful electricians and welders from DLA Installation Operations Richmond’s Installation Management Division, jointly faced and successfully overcame a multitude of varying and completely new challenges. Examples of hurdles that were successfully addressed included securely interfacing with the new marquees’ operating system, the proper formatting of its controlling computer, the need to run new information technology and electrical power lines to both locations, and securely fitting and wiring the new panels into both existing structures. The support structures that hold each electronic panel remained, while removal of the old panels proved more difficult than expected.    


Parrish said that swapping out the old system with the new panels wasn’t an option because technology had changed too much.


The results of the investment, time and efforts, produced a product with significantly more options than its predecessor. The new marquees have more than 50 different font types and sizes available for use, plus more than 280 trillion color combinations as well as seasonal graphics. 


“I am able to get extremely specific with the colors that we use,” said Parrish. “The background color on our main welcome page is the official Air Force blue.” The new marquees are energy efficient and are programmed to automatically turn on at four o’clock in the morning and shut off at seven o’ clock in the evenings. They do not operate during holidays or weekends. 


Parrish expressed that he is extremely appreciative of all the help that was received in making the project a success. “It may have taken a while, but the effort was well worth the results. DSCR employees will benefit from these colorful means of sharing information for many years to come.”


All marquee requests may be submitted to