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Industry Profiles
The American Makers in the USA Lighting Industry
Monday, 19 December 2016

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The vehicle lighting industry in the United States was long a sleepy backwater, turning out heavily cost-prioritised commodity lamps in accord with the demands of the American auto industry. As the pace of technology advancement began to accelerate in Europe and Asia, American makers were left behind through a mix of American regulatory sluggishness, American OEM chauvinism, and American culture which simply didn't care about car lights. Mostly, that kind of thinking is a thing of the past. American industry is very much awake and aware, and there's a tremendous amount of innovative engineering and design to be found from the US vehicle lighting suppliers of today.

This report shines light on some less-known American lighting suppliers, tier 1 and tier 2, to give the world's OEMs an opportunity to replace obsolete old assumptions with accurate new information. It focuses on Flex-N-Gate and Myotek, J.W. Speaker, Truck-Lite, Peterson and Grote, NAL, DBM Reflex and Sea Link, with additional emphasis on other shining lights of the American industry. Facts, figures, and photos are presented, and there are interviews with the key engineers, designers, and executives who make the magic happen.

Peterson Manufacturing Company Profile
Tuesday, 12 January 2016

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Peterson Manufacturing Corporation is a 2nd-generation family-owned private company. Their primary work churns out a constellation of thoughtfully-designed, high-performing products centred around vehicle conspicuity—lamps, reflectors, and a broad array of supporting and accessory items—for commercial vehicles, trailers, and motorcycles.  These are mainly supplied to OEMs including an impressive list of big names such as Harley-Davidson, Husqvarna, and Timpte Trailer. Through skillfully shepherded vertical integration and an insourcing-centred philosophy, Peterson themselves make most of their products, their products' subcomponents, and their subcomponents' tooling—the vast majority of it in the United States. The nine companies under the Peterson corporate umbrella, including a high-precision tooling company and an expert custom injection moulding outfit, not only support Peterson's manufacturing activities, but also actively and successfully solicit outside business with the likes of GM, Volkswagen Group, and a wide variety of companies outside the automotive world.

The company started out in 1945, making a small range of inexpensive mobility accessories: tire pumps and add-on lights. Peterson was purchased in 1956 by the father of the present owner, and in the long run the company have been on an expansive upward trajectory ever since.

Most operations take place at the company's homebase in in the U.S. state of Missouri, in Grandville near Kansas City. The company is almost completely vertically integrated, with nearly all subcomponents, tooling, and processes done in-house. An un-unionised but highly empowered and unusually loyal and tenacious workforce numbers over 850 employees

Peterson's main product range includes universal-fit headlamps, signal lights, reversing lamps, combination lights, work lights, emergency and safety lights, and high-end wiring harnesses. The company's range includes ECE- and ADR-approved versions of lamps built to US-standard sizes, facilitating the export of trailers and commercial vehicles from the American regulatory island out to the greater ECE world. Very intricate custom-fit products are supplied for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and other such applications. Universal products are updated and upgraded on a regular basis.

The company's President, Don Armacost Jr., is a veritable "car guy" whose collection of over 80 stunning vintage and special-interest automobiles, spanning over a century's production,  are housed in an on-campus museum and seen to in an on-site fully-equipped restoration shop. He has surrounded himself with capable people who, in their drive to succeed, propel Peterson in the direction of consistent excellence.

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