Many of the world’s most recognized sign projects have been produced by YESCO. These include the NBC Experience globe in New York City, the historic El Capitan Theatre and Wax Museum marquees in Hollywood, and numerous icons in Las Vegas, such as Vegas Vic, the Fremont Street Experience, the Astrolabe in the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the recent Wynn Las Vegas resort sign.
The company was created by Thomas Young on March 20, 1920. The young sign painter had left England just a decade earlier to immigrate with his family to Ogden, Utah. In the beginning, his shop specialized in coffin plates, gold leaf window lettering, lighted signs and painted advertisements. As the science of lighting and sign-making advanced, so did Tom Young’s signs.
Young Electric Sign Company – which became known by its acronym “YESCO” – soon became recognized as a leader in the sign industry, tackling large and complex sign projects. For example, it erected the first neon spectacular sign in Las Vegas for the Boulder Club in the late ’30s, and in 1995 it completed the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience canopy in Las Vegas.
YESCO continues to design, build, install and maintain signs and interior displays in areas including the application of light-emitting diode (LED) technology to signs. In recent years, YESCO has built a substantial outdoor digital media (billboard) division of its business.
From the outside of the building, it looks like a brilliant illuminated globe. The 35’-diameter hemisphere is covered with thousands of full-color LEDs. Colorful video and special effects, along with animations provided by YESCO’s media services group, are displayed on the globe’s surface, telling the NBC story. When it was first turned on, it literally stopped traffic on West 49th Street.
The 135 foot tall marquee features a 100 foot high, 50 foot wide, concave, double-faced LED message center with a first-of-its-kind “moving eraser.” Conceived by Steve Wynn, the massive eraser glides silently and smoothly up and down over the LED message center, appearing to change the graphics as it goes. The eraser weighs 62,000 pounds, and is counterbalanced by a 62,000-pound weight inside the sign.
The sign uses 4,377,600 LEDs and the eraser is powered by a 300 horsepower motor at its base that runs a gear and cable system. The firm of FTSI engineered the 62,000-pound eraser’s movement, which is capable of speeds up to 10 feet per second.
More formally known as the Young Electric Sign Company's Neon Sign Graveyard, or also as the Neon Boneyard, YESCO maintains a storage yard of retired signs in Las Vegas in a fenced lot behind its facility that is not open to the public. The lot is located at 899 Encanto Dr. Las Vegas, Nevada 89101. Many signs can be seen with online map viewing websites. The company has been instrumental in supporting the Neon Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the neon signs and associated artifacts of Las Vegas. The Neon Museum has now moved many of the signs from YESCO's lot to a new storage facility at the future home of the Neon Museum in Downtown Las Vegas, where they are awaiting restoration.
Young married Elmina Carlisle in 1916. Four years later, in 1920, he founded his own sign company: Thomas Young Sign Company, which specialized in coffin plates, gold window lettering, lighted signs and painted advertisements.
In 1932 Young expanded his business to Las Vegas, and within two years purchased the Ogden Armory for $12,000 to expand production capacity. He also started a branch in Salt Lake City in that year.
Young was elected president of the National Sign Association in 1936, serving for two terms. A year later, in 1937, he moved his family and YESCO headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah, and continued expanding the business.
In 1969 Young turned over the reins of company leadership to his son. He died two years later.