Stories From Our Past

The story of Thomas Young is often described in terms of his fascination with light. Indeed, this medium is at the core of the successful business he pioneered. His contributions to the sign industry are many as are the advances that have come about because of his foresight.

The analogy to light encompasses far more than Tom’s business career. Tom had an electric influence upon all those with whom he came in contact. His charismatic personality and the loving care he displayed toward his family and fellow workers set him apart as a truly unique person. As with the advancements in electric lighting, Thomas Young was continually improving his own life and the lives of all those around him by taking advantage of new ideas, while still relying upon time-tested experiences. He established a foundation for future generations that would build not only a profitable business, but also a solid legacy of honesty and integrity.

Thomas Young was a man not afraid to dream. He experienced the kind of success that makes the classic “American Dream” a reality. Having immigrated to the United States with his family at age fifteen, Tom began his life in America with all the hopes and aspirations of any bright young man in his position in life. His success in the business world was largely the result of the confidence instilled in him by his family in Sunderland England. This family had deep religious values and a strong work ethic. His parents and teachers taught him morals and principals that would someday make of him an honorable businessman and citizen.

Tom’s success came from these solid principals learned as a young boy in England. His British heritage was always a source of great pride.

Thomas and Elmina Young were married on November 29, 1916. Following the birth of four daughters, the Youngs were blessed with their first son, Tom, on April 2, 1928. A younger brother, Richard, was born 4 ½ years later.

In the beginning of Thomas Young Signs, Tom took what business he could get making posters and signs of all kinds, including signs painted on brick walls and gold leaf on glass. One his way to becoming a master sign writer, he also did the lettering on small brass plates that morticians of the time attached to coffins to identify the deceased.

An amazing camaraderie formed between Tom and his employee family. He relied on their expertise and they appreciated his pledge that “there would always be a paycheck for them every week.” This tradition has been one of the many threads of continuity that has been a company hallmark from 1920 to the present.

In 1932 YESCO began servicing Las Vegas. One year earlier gambling was legalized in this remote railroad stop. Among YESCO’s first clients in Las Vegas were the Oasis Café and the Boulder Club.

By the end of World War II in 1945 YESCO opened a branch in Las Vegas. Casinos popped up everywhere and so began the spectacular neon displays. As casino owners tried to outdo each other in creating the biggest and most spectacular sign, Tom and his people were ready and able to oblige.

During the summer when Tom Jr turned 14 he asked his dad if there was any way he could get a job at YESCO. He said, “You bet! Put on your work clothes.” He then took his son down to the shop and escorted him to the area where the trucks were parked. Then father handed his son a broom and dust pay and told him to start sweeping.

Early on, Tom came up with the idea of leasing signs. Lease payments by businesses included maintenance. This tiny business became one of the first leasing companies in America.

“Dad found he was a better salesman than anything else. People just loved him. Many found his distinctive English accent to be charming and most of all he was trustworthy. Possibly more critical to his success, he had the unwavering support of his wife.”

Tom Young Jr.

Tom Sr’s health started to tail. Tom has said that his father was “Sweet and graceful” as he gradually handed over more and more of the administrative duties to his oldest son. The company founded would say, “Tom, I’m not able to take care of this. Would you take care of it?” The duties came one envelope at a time, one project at a time.”

“The difficult we do immediately; the impossible may take us a while. We’re a ‘can do’ company. We sell anything we can build and maintain.”

Tom Young Jr.

Tom remembers going to First Security Bank to make three deposits of $195 each to open profit sharing accounts for YESCO’s three divisions – Salt Lake, Idaho and Las Vegas.

The Walker Bank Building was for many years Salt Lake City’s tallest building. In the 1950s YESCO installed a unique sign that flashed different neon colors to indicate the weather. For residents throughout the valley it was a highly visible weather forecaster for four decades.

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas landmark sign was designed by Betty Willis for the Clark County Commission in 1955. (Pictures available)

Silver Slipper and Golden Nugget neon spectaculars were design and built by YESCO in 1958.

The 1950s came alive with color-neon color. Las Vegas mushroomed into the most razzle-dazzle city in the world. The term “spectacular sign” took on new meaning. In 1959 a massive sign was designed, manufactured and installed for The Mint Hotel and Casino. It was acknowledged as the electrical engineering classic sign of its time. This majestic curved and arched form towered 96’ above “Glitter Gulch” as Las Vegas’ Fremont Street came to be called.

In 1958 the massive Stardust sign and fascia were erected. The display covered the entire front of the building. It boasted thousands of flashing light bulbs and neon tube and simulated stars and planets against a painted lunar background.

Throughout the 1960s YESCO helped banks, car dealers, motels ant other local businesses update their images with the latest technology.

YESCO designed and built and installed a new sign for Snelgrove’s Ice Cream in Salt Lake City, featuring a fabulously popular rotating ice cream cone.

Three dimensional Dee Burger clown signs designed by YESCO appear in 1965.

Thomas Young Jr is named president of YESCO in 1969. The company had expanded to eight branch offices and 300 employees.

Circus Circus Clown spectacular installed in Las Vegas 1969. The sign was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest freestanding sign.

Thomas Young Sr died September 11, 1971 leaving behind his life’s work – a legacy of light. A light to be carried like a torch from generation to generation.

Installation of the world’s tallest (222.5”) freestanding sign at the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1980.

The year 1984 saw another first: the installation of a massive four-color electronic message center for Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

In 1986 YESCO its first computerized cutting machine. The new state-of-the art equipment enabled craftspeople to design and cut shapes and letters faster and more accurately.

In 1987 Tom and Dwan were called to serve a three-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presiding over the Calgary Canada mission.

Like his father before him, Tom Jr took every opportunity to acquaint his children with the workings of YESCO. From an early age, all five of his children three sons and two daughters visited the shops and learned about all aspects of the business. At a special board of director’s meeting held February 26, 1988 Michael T. Young was elected president of YESCO. Paul Young was elected executive vice president. Jeff Young was elected vice president and secretary with the added division managership of the Salt Lake plant.

Starbucks Coffee chose YESCO to build the sign for its corporate headquarters in Seattle Washington and YESCO completed the exterior signage and electronics package for the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

In 1991 YESCO designed and fabricated what was to become one of the most recognizable signs in the nation – the Hard Rock Café guitar. The oversized guitar became a trademark for the prestigious worldwide café chan.

In 1995 YESCO engineered and installed the Fremont Street Experience. With more than 1.9 million lamps it was the largest and most unique video display in the world. It was selected as one of the best themed attractions in the country by the Themed Entertainment Association (THEA).

The new millennium 2000 was celebrated with the installation of the Message Globe at the NBC headquarters in New York City. This YESCO creation features a 35'-diameter sphere covered with thousands of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) which project brilliant full-color video and animated special effects.

YESCO manufactured and installed state-of-the-art video displays for EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, home of the Utah Jazz. The showpiece of the new video screen package was the center-hung feature with four 16:9 HD video displays in a 6 mm pitch. YESCO Franchising grew to 50 territories.

Samsung Electronics Company purchased YESCO Electronics, LLC a subsidiary of Young Electric Sign Company. The sale took place March 3, 2015.

“Safety has always been one of the governing values of our company. Safety underlines everything we do; it’s the core of our mission statement.” Paul Young, Executive Vice President

Designed and manufactured the 122’ wide by 64’ tall video scoreboard at Rice Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah. The opening event was the stunt driving Nitro World Games on July 16, 2016.