By JEFF CLEMETSON
Not everyone is familiar with the YESCO name, but most are familiar with the company’s work. For over a century now, YESCO has created and maintained some of the most iconic lighted signs in the country, including the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.
Last year, YESCO Sign & Lighting opened a service branch at 4780 Mission Gorge Place that is primarily dedicated to serving customers with repairs and maintenance to existing signs and lights.
“We are pleased to offer YESCO’s industry-leading sign and repair services here in San Diego and I’m thrilled to be leading such a knowledgeable and talented team. This new location enables us to serve the businesses in the area much more efficiently,” said general manager Mark Harmsen, adding that local customers in need of a custom sign can be serviced at the YESCO production facility in Jurupa Valley, California near Riverside.
YESCO founder Thomas Young started the company in 1920 in Ogden, Utah. Today, the company is headquartered in Salt Lake City and is still owned by the Young family.
“[Young] founded it right when neon lighting was becoming a thing,” Harmsen said. “He got into Las Vegas when the city was starting to boom and every casino seemed to want a bigger and better sign to out do the other casinos as they started to grow.”
The famous “Welcome to La Vegas” sign entering the strip is owned by YESCO — the company’s is even written on the sign itself.
“We just completed the new City of Las Vegas sign,” Harmsen added. “That was a big project that spans the entire strip there down by the Stratosphere.”
Although the service side of YESCO is less glamorous, the San Diego office does work on some of our most-known local signs.
“We’re working with the Gaslamp Quarter and a lot of iconic signs in San Diego — the Boulevard in El Cajon and you got some other ones in Normal Heights, Hillcrest and we’ve worked on those signs,” Harmsen said. “We’re focused on re-lighting San Diego, keeping San Diego lit amidst the pandemic.”
Most of the day-to-day operations at YESCO’s San Diego office involves servicing everything from mom-and-pop restaurant signs to bank parking lot lights.
“A lot of people think about YESCO and think about signs, they don’t realize that we do a lot of specialty projects on parking lot lights,” Harmsen said, adding that some lighting or sign work is performed hundreds of feet in the air and requires a certain level of expertise.
Another aspect of lighted signs that requires expertise are the adjustments for Daylight Savings changes, which happen twice a year.
“It sounds in theory like it’s ‘Oh yeah you just go program it in,’ but it takes a technician to make those adjustments for the signs and photocells. Often times, the sign is just an after thought for a business owner. They buy a sign and they don’t realize that there is maintenance required and there are things that need to be adjusted,” Harmsen said.
Making local businesses more environmentally friendly is also a large part of the YESCO service.
“We kinda live right now in an era of technology upgrades, so a lot of people are converting their signs from original lamped signs to more energy efficient or better products that last longer,” Harmsen said.
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.