It all started when Thomas Sr. moved with his family from England to Ogden at the age of 15, after the family converted to Mormonism. He started working for two small sign companies at the age of 19, and six years later, with a $300 loan from his father, started Thomas Young Sign Co. That was in 1920, and sign making meant painting on outside walls, lettering gold leaf on storefront windows and engraving coffin plates.
Through the ’20s, even during the Great Depression, the need for outdoor signs in American business grew, and the Young Sign Co. flourished. When Thomas Sr. first witnessed the construction in the early ’30s of the Boulder Dam (now the Hoover Dam) near Las Vegas, he saw the company’s future in electricity. Soon after, Young Sign Co. became Young Electric Sign Co.
Not coincidentally, YESCO today has a huge presence in Las Vegas. Not only did the company create the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, its electric creations adorn many casinos and hotels—its latest is a 260-foot-tall multi-dimensional sign being manufactured for the city’s Aria Towers. That sign will become operational in March. The gaming industry paid its respects to Thomas Sr. in 1998 for his contributions to the city’s lights when he was posthumously inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame.
The brothers remember their grandfather in the office every day. “He had that lovely accent, wore a British flat cap and always wore a tie,” Michael Young recalls. “He loved coming up to employees and asking, ‘What have you heard?’ He wanted to be up-to-date on everything.” He continued coming into the office until shortly before he died at the age of 76 in 1971.