In the hallways of its corporate headquarters, the history of YESCO is depicted. An original painting by Thomas Young Sr. from 1919 hangs near a boardroom. A paint brush and a small tool kit he used to craft some of his earliest signs are part of a glass cabinet exhibit. Archival photos of the firm’s beginning years, and its progression into one of the nation’s largest sign manufacturers, decorate other walls. Re-creations of some of Young’s original work can be found—remnants from the company’s past and catalysts for its future.
“We’ve been given an amazing opportunity to come and work in this business,” Paul Young says. “The customers love the product. When you build something and see its name in lights, that’s very emotional for them. We’ve had many customers in tears—they’re so happy when those signs light up.”
“Our grandfather and father taught us the value of hard work,” says Michael Young. “I know that sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. There’s a quantitative reward in this—signage helps other businesses succeed and make a name for themselves. So intrinsically, this is a very rewarding experience for us, who can help make that happen.”
YESCO Timeline: A Sign of the Times
1895: Thomas Young Sr. born in Sunderland, England.
1897: Family converts to LDS church.
1910: Thomas, age 15, sails from Liverpool to Montreal. Family takes train to Ogden. The same year, Georges Claude exhibits first neon sign in Paris.
1914: Thomas begins working for Electric Service Co. and the Redfield-King Sign Co. in Ogden.
1920: With a $300 loan from his father, he starts Thomas Young Sign Co. It specializes in lighted signs, wall-painted advertisements, gold-leaf window lettering and coffin plates.
1925: Renamed company Young Electric Sign Co. and sells neon signs in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada.
1927: Company starts making neon tubing.
1928: Thomas Young Jr. born on April 2.
1930: Even after the Wall Street crash in 1929, YESCO business was brisk and theater marquee signs were in high demand around the country.
1932: Business expands to Las Vegas where first sign is sold to Oasis Café on Fremont Street.
1934: Expanded with a branch in SLC. Family moves to city in 1937.
1945: The Boulder Club sign, the first of the spectacular Vegas signs, ushers in the “golden age of neon.” YESCO starts Las Vegas branch.
1949: New manufacturing plant opens in SLC.
1958: By now, several Vegas clubs and casinos are customers, including The Mint, Silver Slipper, Stardust and Golden Nugget. The Stardust sign, at 216-x-27 feet, was the largest electric sign in the world at that time.
The 1960s: New acrylic plastic sign material revolutionizes industry.
1969: Thomas Young Jr. is named president of YESCO.
1971: Thomas Young Sr. dies on Sept. 11.
1975: YESCO opens new plant in Las Vegas.
1980: YESCO installs world’s tallest freestanding sign (222.5 feet) at Sahara Hotel and Casino.
1982: Completes Epcot Center package in Florida.
1984: Caesar’s Palace sign installed, the first of a new generation of four-color computerized electronic message centers.
1988: Michael T. Young elected president of YESCO.
The 1990s: Clients include World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Hard Rock Cafe in Vegas, Ford Motor Co., the Denver Performing Arts Center, the Nugget in Reno, McDonald’s in the western region, Flamingo Hilton in Reno, the Venetian, Paris and Mandalay Bay in Vegas and baseball stadiums in Phoenix and Denver.
1996: The Fremont Street Experience in Vegas wins the Themed Entertainment Association award for one of the best-themed attractions in the country. Locally, Capitol Theatre’s new sign installed and Villa Theatre’s 1940s sign restored.
1998: Thomas Young Sr. posthumously inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame.
2001: YESCO builds 1,700 new signs and modifies 249 others for First Security Bank’s transition to Wells Fargo.
2002: An official sign vendor for Salt Lake’s 2002 Olympic Winter Games, YESCO creates Olympic rings on SLC mountainside, high tower signs and building wraps for high-rises. Company now operates in 11 western states, with customers across the nation and world.
2009: YESCO moves into new 104,000-square-foot facility in western Salt Lake County.
2011: YESCO starts franchises in the U.S.
Young Electric Sign Co. is best known for its neon signs, but it also deals in several related businesses. The company, started in 1920, now employs more than 1,700 people, has offices in 11 western states, has 14 franchisees and operates in 33 territories. In addition to neon signage, YESCO works with:
Clients from around the country have utilized signs that were custom designed at YESCO’s Salt Lake City headquarters.
Message displays, digital billboards and arena and stadium displays from YESCO can be found in almost every major market in the country.
RESORTS AND CASINO SIGNS
YESCO has had a strong presence in Las Vegas since the early days of gaming began. It started in 1932 with a client in Las Vegas, a year after Nevada legalized gambling. In March, Young will adorn the new Aria Tower with a 260-foot-high sign, one of the largest signs in the world.
The company maintains a strong presence in highway billboards, their printed panel boards still found along most freeways and roadways.
SIGN AND LIGHTING SERVICES
Seeing opportunity in sign maintenance, YESCO is franchising partnerships with smaller shops. The franchising program was started in 2011.