Century-old family-owned sign business helping bring Raiders into Las Vegas era

YESCO signs built 4,000 signs for Las Vegas Raiders
Posted at 2:28 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 17:57:02-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When Jeff Young strolls through the Neon Museum, it's like walking through a giant family scrapbook.

"We don't seem to remember the buildings as beautiful as they are but we tend to remember the signs," he said.

The signs -- enormous and impossibly bright -- have become synonymous with Las Vegas. And in many ways, it was Young's grandfather Thomas Young who put the light into the City of Lights and the neon into the Neon Capital of the World.

"I think about the countless, tireless hours that my grandfather put in traveling here from Utah in the day and all those man hours it took to build these signs and take care of them all of these years," he said.

It's been 100 years to be exact since Young's grandfather Thomas started Thomas Young Signs in the small Utah town of Ogden. In 1931, gambling was legalized in Las Vegas. A year later, Thomas Young arrived, right on time.

"You talk about the golden age of neon and the history of Las Vegas and it just doesn't get much better than that," he said.

Thomas Young's first big job was in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas.

"My grandfather was an artist and in so in the case of the Boulder Club, he went to his hotel room overnight and on a large piece of butcher paper drew what his vision was for the Boulder Club in colored pencil, 8 feet high, rolled it up, took it next door. The customer absolutely fell in love with it. He hadn't even priced it yet - 'go ahead and build it' and we were under way on Fremont Street," he said.

Just as soon as that sign went up, the nearby Las Vegas Club wanted one too. Working his way down Fremont, Young and his growing team continued to build -- bigger, taller and more brightly lit.

"Many people thought that the Golden Nugget sign and the next sign would simply -- it was taller than the building. They thought it would just fall over. But he was smart enough to take the structure all the way to the basement and attach it to the foundation of the building," he said.

'He' was a guy named Ben Jones, an artist like Young's grandfather, a draftsman and a self-taught engineer.

"To imagine that sign was designed and engineered by a self-taught engineer today, you just shudder to think but that was the history."

Rooted in family and limitless vision, YESCO has remained true to its DNA while helping to design, engineer and ultimately usher in each new chapter of Las Vegas.

"From Stardust to Circus Circus, all the way to more recently the Stratosphere, the Wynn, Encore, MGM, New York New York, Aria just to name a few," he said.

So when the Raiders chose Las Vegas as the team's new home, the team tapped YESCO to help them usher in a new era.

"I have to wonder what my grandfather would say if he were to drive down Interstate 15 today and look at that $2 billion stadium. He would be shocked to know that there were 4,000 signs put up," he said.

4,000 Raiders signs from the team's headquarters in Henderson to inside, outside and atop Allegiant Stadium. The letters just happen to be the biggest the company has ever made.

"If you look at that roof, it's compound. It's curved this way and it's curved this way so to get the layout correct and to get everything to lay out just the way it does was quite a feat," said Young.

And speaking of feet, the square footage of those rooftop letters just happen to be the same as a football field...a good sign of what's to come.