It’s easy to forget where we came 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.