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 Thomas’s business career. Thomas 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, Thomas 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 principles that would someday make him an honorable businessman and citizen.

Thomas’s success came from these solid principles 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, Thomas took what business he could get making posters and signs of all kinds, including signs painted on brick walls and gold leaf on glass. On 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 Thomas 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, Thomas 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, Thomas 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 fail. 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.

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 and other local businesses update their images with the latest technology.

YESCO designed, 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.

Growing up my Father won trips to Las Vegas through the company he worked for. On one such trip he stopped our car in front of the tall Las Vegas Circus Circus sign. We all got out of the car and Dad took the time to let us all know that it was a very good family who made that sign. Dad was an introspective, quiet man so this experience has left a lasting impression as an unforgettable childhood memory. It has been a heartfelt opportunity working for YESCO and be able to reflect on this family experience.

Debbie Haynie

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 introduced 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 chain.

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 (TEA).

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.

YESCO Shines at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Visitors are drawn to the Arena by two sets of eye-catching letters towering 10’ tall and spanning over 100’ in length. Unique illuminated and animated 20’ letters mounted on the roof of the building provide identity from the air. The property also boasts an enormous 104’ tall freestanding sign adorned with two 1,800 square foot electronic displays that provide phenomenal identity for the Arena and its sponsors. “YESCO was delighted to be selected as the sign manufacturer on this project for the prestigious T-Mobile Arena. The building and the signs completely change the landscape in that area of Las Vegas,” said Jeff Young, YESCO’s Chief Marketing Officer.

YESCO Adds Style to the Huntridge Center with an Award-Winning New Sign. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn C. Goodman recognized the Huntridge Center sign as one of five exceptional projects as Mayor’s Urban Design Awards (MUDA) winners. The Huntridge Center sign was designed by YESCO’s Stephen Shortell and built for the Dapper Companies. It is the first winner in the Public Art Category. The sign evokes the character of signage present at the time of the neighborhood’s heyday and serves as an iconic landmark, signifying the active restoration of the neighborhood’s rich and influential history.

“This project was one of the most interesting collaborations that I have had the privilege to be a part of in my twelve-year career as a designer. It is a great honor to be recognized by Mayor Goodman and the City Council. I want to extend my gratitude to the people that helped me bring this design to fruition,” said Stephen Shortell. “This opportunity was made possible through the teamwork and dedication provided by my creative director, Mark Oatis, account executives Gary Bunker and Ed Stagner and, of course, all of the shop staff here at YESCO Las Vegas. With their combined effort, the YESCO team produced the award winning results that we are known for.”

A state-of-the-art 16mm LED display greets shoppers and passersby at the Shops at South Town in Sandy, Utah. The skilled craftspeople at YESCO Salt Lake built the unique monument sign that identifies The Shops at South Town. The company also installed several directional signs at the center. The mall located in Sandy, Utah went through a renovation project. YESCO was proud to be a part of the redesign initiative. The comprehensive sign package was designed by Scott AG.

The City of Las Vegas will illuminated its new, 80-foot-tall Gateway Arches spanning Las Vegas Boulevard between St. Louis and Bob Stupak avenues at the base of The STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod. Conceived and designed by Selbert Perkins Design and fabricated and installed by YESCO, the 100-year-old company synonymous with Las Vegas’ most iconic signs, the archway marks travelers’ official arrival into the City of Las Vegas.

“YESCO has a long history of fabricating, installing and maintaining Las Vegas’ most internationally recognizable signs, and the Gateway Arches represent the newest monumental addition to that portfolio,” said Jeff Young, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of YESCO. “This project is history in the making, and we’re proud to have partnered with the City of Las Vegas and Selbert Perkins Design to bring it to life.”

In June of 2021 YESCO, the 101-year-old company known for creating, repairing and maintaining internationally recognizable signs, announces a transition in leadership, effectively immediately. Fourth-generation family members Ryan, Joshua and Nathan Young have been named to the Young Electric Sign Company board of directors. In addition, Ryan Young has been named president and chief executive officer of Young Electric Sign Company, the parent company of YESCO, while Joshua Young has been appointed president of YESCO Custom Signs and YESCO Sign & Lighting Service.

“I was bolstered early in my career with the confidence my father had in me to carry this business forward. I have just as much confidence in the fourth generation to meet the opportunities that await this great organization,” said Thomas Young, Jr., second-generation family member and chairman of the board directors, Young Electric Sign Company.

A 65-foot replica of a Gibson Les Paul guitar made its debut this week at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Rendered in Heritage Cherry Sunburst and weighing 9.5 tons, it pays homage to the original Gibson Les Paul ‘50s instrument. It rivals the height of other state Route 66 attractions, such as Tulsa’s Golden Driller (75 feet) and the 66-foot bottle sculpture at the Pops Soda Ranch in Arcadia.

Las Vegas’ iconic neon kicking cowgirl, Vegas Vickie is the centerpiece of the Circa lobby. Fresh from a makeover by YESCO, the 100-year-old company synonymous with many of the city’s most internationally recognizable signs, Vickie debuted in 1980 and, a few years later, made major headlines when she married her neon counterpart, Vegas Vic, in 1994.

YESCO fabricated, installed and relight of the historic Walker Center weather tower in Salt Lake City. The 16-story Walker Center, formerly the Walker Bank building, was the tallest building between Chicago and San Francisco when it was completed in 1912. In the 1950s, YESCO installed a unique sign that flashed different neon colors to indicate the changing weather. For residents throughout the valley, it served as a highly visible weather forecaster for four decades. The weather tower was taken down in the 1980s due to a city ordinance but replaced in 2008.

The colors of the weather tower indicate the type of weather. Steady blue means clear skies, flashing blue means cloudy skies, steady red means rain and flashing red means snow. The tower will also change colors for the holidays and special occasions including pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October and green for St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is one of the coolest projects we have done in my time at YESCO,” said Aaron Green, Rocky Mountain Region project manager, YESCO. “It is enormously gratifying to be able to work on a project with so much history and to know that Utahns can once again see their weather conditions indicated in lights

YESCO and the city of Las Vegas installed two brand-new 50-foot-tall showgirls on the corner of Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. These new showgirl signs are double the height of the prior showgirl icons installed in 2018, which each stood 25-feet tall. The retro-style showgirls will create a lasting legacy for the city as they join the previously installed dice sculptures and sidewalk roulette table to welcome visitors to downtown Las Vegas.

“With an extensive history of fabricating, installing and maintaining Las Vegas’ most internationally recognizable signs, YESCO is thrilled to complete the newest iconic project for the city,” said Jeff Young, executive vice president of YESCO. “These historic signs will welcome visitors to downtown Las Vegas for decades, and we’re proud to have partnered with the city of Las Vegas to bring them to life.”