Why a Salt Lake company owns the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign

Young Electric Sign Company of Salt Lake City is the owner and caretaker of arguably the most famous ‘welcome to’ sign in the world

It is 8:45 on a weekday morning in Las Vegas and vehicles, including two tour buses that just released their passengers, have filled most of the parking spots. Up ahead, there’s a line of people waiting to have their picture taken next to the attraction.

What’s all the fuss about? Is it a celebrity sighting? Somebody giving away Raiders tickets? David Copperfield’s duck got loose?

Nope. None of the above. The big draw is what has arguably become the most famous city-entrance sign in the world, maybe the most famous sign, period:

“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Apparently, like a lot of things in Las Vegas, this goes on day and night — throngs of tourists capturing their visit with a photo that proves they were here. Also, unlike a lot of things in Las Vegas, it’s free.

• • •

Jeff Young can personally attest to the sign’s perpetual popularity. Jeff is executive vice president and trustee of the Young Electric Sign Company, or YESCO — the company born and bred in Utah that owns and maintains the sign.

“It has become a huge draw. We’re the caretakers of an icon,” he says. “Owning it is a great honor for us, for the family, for the organization.”

The story of how a Utah company wound up with the “Fabulous Las Vegas” sign dates back to the company’s founder, a pioneer immigrant named Thomas Young — Jeff’s grandfather — who opened his sign company in Ogden in 1920 and started doing business in Las Vegas in 1932.

His timing was fortuitous because of two recent developments: 1) The use of neon lights in sign-making was just picking up steam, and 2) Nevada’s legalization of gambling in 1931.

To the world, Las Vegas was about to become Sin City; to Thomas Young: Sign City.

Gambling joints and the hotels they were attached to wanted bright lights and big, bold signs, and Young knew how to make them. His first contract in Vegas was with the Boulder Club in 1932.

He continued to supply the growing town with neon signs throughout the Great Depression and World War II, after which he opened a branch of the company in Las Vegas in 1945. That’s when Vegas lit up, literally, with Thomas Young leading the way, building signs at the Stardust, the Mint, the Silver Slipper, the Golden Nugget, the Sahara, and so on and so forth.

As his grandson Jeff says, “If you talk about Vegas and early hotels, it would be hard to find one we didn’t build.” (The same is true today; the company’s imprint is everywhere in the city; the Bellagio, the Aria, New York-New York, the Venetian, the 272-foot LED sign on the Palms, the Hard Rock Cafe guitar, all theirs, to name just a few.)

As the company grew in the ’50s and ’60s, YESCO began to acquire other smaller sign companies, and their signs, including one called Western Neon in 1964.

Western Neon owned the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. It had been designed in 1959 by one of its employees, Betty Willis. The modest 25-foot sign cost $4,000 to build and was erected beyond the Las Vegas city limits on the south, in the direction of California. The nearest buildings were at least a mile away. There were no traffic jams.

As time went on, the sign stayed put and the city grew to meet it. Now, the Mandalay Bay Hotel is just a stone’s throw away and Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders’ new home (also home to a lot of YESCO signs), is just across the freeway.

Through the years, more and more people kept risking their lives to cross traffic and take pictures by the sign, until the city made the sign an island in the median and erected a parking lot with 12 parking spaces in 2008. In 2012 they added 21 more; in 2015 another 21, and two slots for tour buses. There’s also a traffic light so pedestrians can safely cross Las Vegas Boulevard.

In 2009, the sign was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

YESCO might own it — the company gets lease payments and maintenance fees from Clark County — but it can’t move it.

What happened in Vegas stays in Vegas.

The sign isn’t copyrighted, which is why it can be found on refrigerator magnets, key chains, T-shirts, placemats, coffee mugs and anything else a logo can be applied to or stamped on. But YESCO has trademarked the sign, to make sure competitors don’t use its image.

And it’s placed its own logo on the famous sign. YESCO can be seen in smaller letters near the bottom of the sign.

“Literally thousands of people every day see our logo on that sign,” says Jeff Young.

If they can find a parking spot.

Read the full article written by Lee Benson at deseret.com

YESCO Fabricates, Installs New Delta Center Signage
Delta Center Signage in Progress

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YESCO recently completed the fabrication and installation of 10 new signs for Delta Center in Salt Lake City – home of the Utah Jazz NBA franchise and more than 320 days of sports and entertainment events each year. As part of the new partnership between the Jazz and Delta Air Lines, which officially kicks off on Saturday, July 1, guests can now view the airline’s nostalgic return to the iconic venue.

The project encompassing more than 500 man-hours over a nine-week-long period included the addition of 5,000 white LEDs inside the building’s 72 exterior letters and cabinets. Made from aluminum material, the six exterior signs feature the Delta Air Lines colors painted on perforated vinyl. During the day, blue and red colors are visible, and at night, all letters illuminate white. The largest exterior letters are over six feet tall.

As part of the interior signage project, YESCO fabricated and installed four 17-foot-long LED illuminated signs.

Prior to the Delta Center signage project, YESCO also partnered with the airline to provide signage for Delta at the Salt Lake City International Airport. YESCO has also previously collaborated with the Utah Jazz on a variety of sign projects over the years.

"With Jazz games and world-class events held at this arena, the Delta Center signage will have the most TV and media coverage of any other signs in Utah and YESCO is grateful to have been entrusted with manufacturing and installing the Delta Center rebranding project,” said Brian Brown, senior account executive, YESCO.

YESCO Designs, Fabricates, Installs Signage for the J Resort in Reno, Nevada

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YESCO recently completed the design, fabrication and installation of new exterior signage for the J Resort in Reno, Nevada.  The project included a large LED video band, LED video wall, border cabinets, lighting bands and the property's signature illuminated letter "J" icons.

More than 93 feet long and over 14 feet tall, the J Resort's new video band is Northern Nevada's first LED display to wrap around multiple sides of a building.  The three-sided Daktronics band also included a high-definition 8-millimeter display.

In addition, the J Resort project also included a colossal 65-foot-tall by 65-foot -wide Daktronics video wall with a 10-millimeter display.  Fabrication and installation for the video band and all other LED displays took more than 6,700 hours to complete.  Combined the two Daktronics LED video display feature more than 7 million pixels.

YESCO was also tasked with removing all existing cabinets as well as creating new border cabinets and the property's three 19-foot-tgall illuminated letter ""J" icons with white flex faces.  Additionally, the project included the installation of a 2,200 foot-long light band that was completely manufactured in Reno.

"With Northern Nevada's first LED display that wraps around multiple sides of a building, we know the J Resort will stand out among the competition in Reno," said Adam Keefer, custom account executive, YESCO.

YESCO Fabricates, Installs Distinctive Signage for New DraftKings Las Vegas Headquarters

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YESCO completed the fabrication and installation of more than 170 interior signs for the new DraftKings headquarters located in Southwest Las Vegas. Situated in the UnCommons mixed-use complex on the corner of the 215 Beltway and Durango Drive, the four-story building occupied by DraftKings encompasses 90,000 square feet of space with room for 700 to 1,000 employees.

Prior to YESCO’s fabrication and installation, global architecture and design firm, Interior Architects, conceptualized and designed DraftKings’ innovative signage. Included among the project’s notable signs are the internally illuminated "Crown Wall" entry feature, motion-activated "Crown" behind a two-way mirror, color-changing faux-neon illuminated crown mounted to a "living wall," “SNAKE EYES” art installation composed of 4,559 dice, a slot reels art installation composed of 120 individual faux reels and “LET IT RIDE” art installation composed of 6,049 casino chips.

The DraftKings project included 2,642 man-hours of work over a 32-week period.

“There is no shortage of eye-catching signage throughout the DraftKings’ new, four-story building,” said Jeff Young, executive vice president, YESCO. “It was an honor to manufacture and install the innovative signage for this globally recognized fast-growing brand’s spectacular new Southern Nevada headquarters.”


BELIEVE is a distinctive work of public sculpture installed in the City of Reno. The city is home to more than 170 pieces of public art, and the number is rising.

BELIEVE was purchased from its creators, Jeff Schomberg and Laura Klimpton, who created the work in 2013 as a Burning Man installation.  Measuring 4 feet thick by 12 feet tall by 70 feet long, the sculpture is composed of welded steel letters with a rusty patina, each  imprinted with hundreds of cutouts of birds.

City of Reno crews relocated the artwork from the ReTrac Plaza, near the Reno arch, to its new home in  City Plaza.

When the call went out to animate the popular sculpture with color-changing  illumination, YESCO rose to the occasion. Working with Principle RGB LED products, YESCO installed 67 custom-made, wet-rated enclosures which house the controllers, decoders, antennas, amplifiers and power supplies.  "Believe" is animated with seven pre-programmed lighting shows. A designated IP address enables the customer to access the controls and change the letters remotely.

The popular sculpture is even more compelling with the incorporation of artistic lighting.

How Might the Current Banking “Crisis” Affect the Billboard Industry?

By Tony Hull, President, YESCO Financial Solutions

There were no bank failures in the United States in 2021 or 2022. The last time we went two years with no failures was 2005 and 2006. For those connected to the banking industry, it was pretty alarming to see the 2nd and 3rd largest bank failures in U.S. history take place in early March 2023.

And while things have calmed down a little in the last few weeks, if you’re not connected directly to the banking industry, why should you pay attention? Assuming you’ve already executed a strategy to make sure your deposits are held in accounts safely protected by the FDIC, how might this “crisis” affect your OOH business?

First, the potential for a recession has increased, which could affect advertising budgets. Nearly 40% of all business loans in the U.S. are provided by small and medium sized banks; and they were already tightening. The panic from those two bank failures in March caused investors to scrutinize small and medium size banks for the same potential risks. As bank stocks lost 30-70% of their value over the course of four days, depositors began to shift portions of their money to larger banks. Setting aside the impact of increased oversight, smaller banks are being forced to tighten credit standards in order to slow lending so that they can rebalance their capital ratios. Historically when lenders pull back, business and consumer spending slows down, and the risk of recession rises.

Second, it will likely now become more difficult for you to get capital from the banking industry. If you’ve been planning to replace an aging digital face, or put up new digital billboards using a bank loan – this “crisis” will make things more challenging. Consider taking steps now to strengthen your existing bank relationships. Keep your banker (or even better, the bank credit officer), up to speed on your capital needs in 2023.

You might also consider developing relationships with non-bank lenders, like YESCO Financial Solutions, that don’t rely on deposits for funding and underwrite digital billboard loans based on their many decades of experience in the OOH industry.

Steve Burt, Business Development for YESCO Financial Solutions, will be in Houston for the Spring IBO conference next week. Send him an email or text message if you’d like to arrange a time for a quick introduction.

Contact information:

Tony Hull, President
(801) 464-6482

Steve Burt, Business Development
(801) 493-7349

YESCO Illuminates Historic Hillcrest Sign in Purple, Yellow, Green for Mardi Gras
The Hillcrest Sign Illuminated in Purple, Yellow and Green for Mardi Gras.
(Photo courtesy of YESCO)

Iconic Landmark Recently Refurbished with Color-Changing Flex Neon by YESCO

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On Tuesday, February 21, YESCO illuminated the historic Hillcrest sign in purple, yellow and green in celebration of the start of Mardi Gras. The iconic sign owned by the Hillcrest Business Improvement Association located in San Diego, California, tasked YESCO with upgrading the landmark with color-changing flex neon.

The project included 106 man-hours of work over a 2.5 week period. Now, the sign is outfitted with 16 million color hues, including pre-programed light shows for various holidays and events.

“As a beloved icon of the Hillcrest neighborhood in San Diego, YESCO was thrilled to restore the sign back to its former glory,” said Andrew Russell, sales service manager, YESCO. “Many residents expressed how fond they are of the sign’s historic charm, so we kept the retro look and simply restored the lighting with color-changing flex neon.”

YESCO Announces the Retirement of Patrick O’Donnell, President, YESCO Outdoor Media, Names Nathan Young as Successor
L: Patrick O’Donnell, retiring president, YESCO Outdoor Media; R: Nathan Young, president, YESCO Outdoor Media

YESCO announces the retirement of Patrick O’Donnell, president, YESCO Outdoor Media. A 40-year veteran of out-of-home advertising who earned top industry accolades during his tenure, O’Donnell will continue to serve as a consultant for YESCO throughout 2023. Nathan Young, a fourth-generation descendant of YESCO’s founder Thomas Young, Sr., will succeed O’Donnell as YESCO Outdoor Media president.

O’Donnell’s career in out-of-home advertising earned him induction into the Outdoor Advertising Association of America’s (OAAA) Hall of Fame in 2017. He began working in the advertising industry in Reno, Nevada, in the 1980s, joining YESCO in 1985, where played an instrumental role in growing and providing structure for the company’s outdoor media business. Under his direction, YESCO Outdoor Media developed a culture that took time to analyze every client’s marketing needs to determine the right campaign components and locations to speak most effectively to the desired audiences. Today, YESCO Outdoor Media operates more than 3,000 traditional and digital outdoor advertising display faces along major routes across eight states in the Rocky Mountain West. O’Donnell served on the OAAA Board of Directors as both chairman of the legislative committee and as a member of the executive committee. He currently serves on the governing boards of Geopath—an organization dedicated to market research and measurement related to the outdoor advertising industry—and was a longtime board member of the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising, Research and Education (FOARE).

Nathan Young began his career at YESCO in 2004 as a building maintenance manager, before becoming director of training and development for YESCO Franchising LLC—the company that oversees sign maintenance and repair franchisees in 215 territories throughout North America. Prior to being named president at YESCO Outdoor Media, Young served as general manager of YESCO National Service. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westminster College and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Utah.

“We congratulate Pat O’Donnell on an outstanding career with YESCO, and we look forward to continuing to benefit from his monumental experience and insights as a consultant over the next year,” said Jeff Young, executive vice president, YESCO. “Meanwhile, we welcome Nathan Young and his nearly two decades of experience with the company into this new role and look forward to his leadership.”

YESCO Honors Son of Employee Featured in “Undercover Boss”

YESCO is honoring the life of Riley Scott Byington, the son of YESCO Las Vegas’ paint foreman Eric Byington, on Wednesday, January 18.

As a part of a commitment made to Eric by YESCO Executive Vice President Jeff Young on the CBS series “Undercover Boss,” which aired on January 15, 2016, it is the company’s great honor to remember Riley every year on his birthday, Jan. 18. This year marks the eighth year in a row the company has shared his picture on digital billboards located in Utah and Nevada.

“Eric Byington has been an indispensable member of the YESCO Las Vegas team since 1991,” said Jeff Young, executive vice president, YESCO. “It is our company’s privilege to recognize his son each year on his birthday to honor his extraordinary life.”

Young went undercover as the YESCO “boss” on Season 7, Episode 5 of the popular series, which is available for download on YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Paramount+.

YESCO Conservation Fund at the Neon Museum Created to Maintain, Repair, Improve Signs
Hard Rock Café guitar sign restored by YESCO, on display in The Neon Museum boneyard.
(Photo Courtesy of The Neon Museum)

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YESCO announces the YESCO Conservation Fund, which was established to maintain, repair and improve signs in The Neon Museum’s collection. Encompassing $50,000 worth of repair, maintenance and improvement services per year for five years (for a total of $250,000), the fund will help preserve the history and legacy of neon signage in Las Vegas. The fund may be used independently or as a match with donor dollars to support even greater restoration initiatives.

“YESCO designed and created some of Las Vegas’ most iconic neon signs, so it is an honor to partner with The Neon Museum and create this fund on the occasion of their 10th anniversary,” said Jeff Young, executive vice president, YESCO. “We look forward to bringing more signs back to their original glory.”

When The Neon Museum was first established, approximately one-third of its collection, more than 180 signs, were loaned to the Museum by YESCO, its official founding partner. In 2018, The Neon Museum launched a crowd-funding campaign enabling YESCO to restore the iconic 80-foot-tall Hard Rock Café guitar sign. These signs remain on view in the Museum’s Boneyard, where visitors from around the world go to learn about Las Vegas’ vibrant visual history.

“The Neon Museum is grateful for the generosity of our official founding partner, YESCO,” said Aaron Berger, executive director, The Neon Museum. “This significant contribution allows the Museum to expand in new directions while repairing, restoring and re-electrifying more of our city’s history.”

The YESCO Conservation Fund can be used independently or as a match with donor dollars to allow for even more restoration initiatives.

ABOUT THE NEON MUSEUM Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. Fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), The Neon Museum has been ranked No. 1 in Las Vegas Weekly’s list of “Twenty Greatest Attractions in Las Vegas History,” Nevada’s “Best Museum” by MSN, No. 1 Pop Culture museum and one of the 10 Best Museums in Las Vegas by USA Today’s 10best.com, “One of the Top 10 Coolest Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do” by Forbes.com, one of the “Top 10 Historic Spots in Las Vegas” by Vegas.com; one of “15 Most Fascinating Museums in the U.S.” by VacationIdea.com; and earns a consistent 4.5 out of 5 rating on TripAdvisor. On its 2.27-acre campus, The Neon Museum has an outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard; the North Gallery, home to the immersive audiovisual experience “Brilliant! Jackpot” which uses technology to re-illuminate more than 40 non-operational signs; and its visitors’ center inside the former La Concha Motel lobby. The museum collection also includes nine restored signs installed as public art in downtown Las Vegas. Public education, outreach, research, and arts conservation represent a selection of the museum’s ongoing projects. For more information, including tour schedules and tickets, visit www.neonmuseum.org. Also follow @NeonMuseum on Facebook and Twitter and @theneonmuseumlasvegas