At the age of five, Nick Tykoski started learning the sign and decal business when he traveled with his father and grandfather across the state of Michigan.
As much as a five-year-old can, he helped with various projects, soaked in the technique of not only running a business, creating signage and decals, but also continuing the core values his grandfather started many decades before: quality and service.
Nick enrolled at Michigan State University to pursue his degree with his sights set on life outside of Mason Co. Michigan. However, he eventually found himself back in his hometown where he took over the family business. Nick now lives in Ludington with his wife Heather and their son Aiden.
In 2009, he successfully moved Tye’s Incorporated into a global manufacturer with the creation of Safety Decals.
Safety Decals has built a worldwide reputation based on quality and service; the core principals of the Tykoski family since 1947. These values, among new ones, are the basis for Safety Decals 400 percent growth over the past eight years.
Safety Decals now supplies companies throughout the United States as well as an international presence with industry leading printing services for decals, labels, signs, banners and much more. With new technology, Nick has grown Safety Decals into one of the largest decals manufacturers in the world, producing millions of decals annually.
Safety Decals 9,600 square foot headquarters is located in Ludington, Michigan with plans to expand in the near future. The office houses all critical aspects of what makes Safety Decals a success: sales, customer service, billing, production, marketing and graphic design.
David Tykoski grew up around sign making through his father’s business “Tye’s Neon Sales and Service” from the day he was born where quality and service were instilled in him from a very young age.
The tradition of sign making was passed down to David where he carried on the family name through the business his father created. He grew the business regionally with the advancement of technology and a strong dedication to hard work.
David expanded into the decal business in 1984 when he purchased one of the first sign computers available, the Apple Ile.
The Apple IIe computer had open architecture that third-party companies designed cards to plug into the internal slots allowing for various functionalities including displaying and using 80-column text, clocks and controlling a variety of external devices. The Apple IIe turned out to be quite profitable for Apple; it was more functional than previous models and was marketed as their “Low Cost Apple” option.
This new technology allowed David not only to create efficiencies for the business but to break into a new area of the industry that required this type of technology. He went on to create his own entity named “Tye’s Signs Incorporated” and made an impact in the sign and decal industry for many decades.
David married Lenore, and together raised three children in the small town of Scottville, Michigan where he also managed Tye’s Signs Incorporated. Although David is now “retired”, he can still be found installing and repairing signs around town; from time to time.
It’s easy to forget where you come from but the Tykoski family can’t go far without being reminded. The sign business has now run through the blood of three generations.
It all started in 1946 when Marion “Tye” Tykoski was released from the United States Army after serving during World War II. Following his time in the service “Tye” went to Chicago Institute of the Arts in Chicago, Illinois to learn the craft of sign making, including the neon sign technology.
It wasn’t long before Tye’s return to civilian life from the Army that the neon sign technology came to America. Georges Claude, a French engineer, chemist, inventor and pioneer in the development of neon lighting and signs, introduced his neon signs to the U.S. in 1923 by selling two signs to a Packard Car dealership in Los Angeles for $24,000.
Claude was the first person to apply an electrical discharge to a sealed tube with neon as the gas creating the first neon lamp. Neon signs became the trend in outdoor advertising in the U.S. with their visibility during the day and night. People loved neon signs and the brilliant red illumination was coined as “liquid fire.”
Neon quickly became symbolic of America’s inventiveness and creativity and began to dominate down towns across the country.
In the 40s and 50s Las Vegas was the scene for lavish, colorful and creative signs with impressive neon animations, border neon and decorative architectural accents that lit up the city streets.
“Tye” returned to the small town of Manistee, Michigan after completing school in 1948 to start his own sign business, “Tye’s Neon Sales and Service.” He single-handedly brought the neon sign craze to the small towns of west Michigan where he also married the love of his life, Lois, and raised two children.
For the next 66 years “Tye” continued to craft signs and build his business centered around quality and service. He continued to work until he passed away in 2014 at the age of 90 years old.
Although the neon and sign making technology has evolved since the 1940s, the demand for signs and advertising is still just as great today.