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YESCO boss goes undercover for TV show.

Salt Lake City -- When producers from CBS' Undercover Boss contacted YESCO's co-owner Jeff Young about appearing on the show, he jumped at the chance.

"We were absolutely honored that Undercover Boss would consider us, a Utah company, in the lineup. You think about how many great companies there are, and how many there are in the U.S.," he says, noting that The Larry H. Miller Group and Vivint have also appeared on the show in earlier seasons. "To be the third [Utah] company to have a chance to do this, we're just so honored and thrilled to do this."

Young appeared on the fifth episode of the seventh season of the popular television program.

For Young, the show brought three major opportunities: to showcase YESCO and Utah's economy, to examine company workings on the granular level in preparation for further expansion before YESCO's centennial in 2020, and to help individual employees. Producers from the show chose the employees who would show Young's undercover persona the ropes, with preference to those whose loyalty to the company was second only to the personal struggles they had to face.

To go undercover, Young grew a beard, donned glasses and dyed part of his hair to make an electric purple fauxhawk. For his first job encounter, a service and maintenance technician named Sal taught "Alex" to repair an LED signboard in Chicago. The job was particularly tough for Young, who has a fear of heights.

As they worked, Sal expressed frustration at a lack of training between the YESCO home office in Salt Lake City and the franchise location in Chicago. Those troubles were only compounded by the sometimes 20-hour workdays, especially for Sal, who has a genetic heart condition.

At the end of the show, after re-dying his hair to its customary brown, Young revealed his true identity to Sal and the other employees he interacted with. Fie recruited Sal to help with a training program to improve training and communication between headquarters and the company's 45 franchise locations throughout the United States, particularly in the eastern part of the country.

Young also gave instructions to Sal's supervisors to be more understanding of his medical condition, and donated $60,000 to help replenish Sal's retirement fund that had been heavily damaged by the economic crash.

While Young spent the months between filming and the episode airing implementing changes to the company, he says viewing the episode brought back the immense hardships some of his employees face. "I'm still astounded by the personal struggles that were overcome by these employees," he says, noting that many of the details of their plights were cut in the editing process.

In terms of operations, Young says the training and tweaks are going well. Last March, Samsung bought the Logan-based YESCO Electronics, an LED sign and display manufacturing center that represented about 20 percent of YESCO as a whole. Not only did Samsung keep all of the employees and the Logan-centered division, but it has hired more employees and made investments in land and other assets in Utah,

Young says, giving the company an opportunity to work with a global leader in electronics.

"We can continue to do the business we've always done but partner with a global leader in electronics," Young says. "Things are looking very bright."

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Title Annotation:Around Utah
Comment:YESCO boss goes undercover for TV show.(Around Utah)
Author:Christensen, Lisa
Publication:Utah Business
Geographic Code:1U8UT
Date:Feb 1, 2016
Words:551
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