Issue: Oct 2010


Peterson Celebrates Its 65th Anniversary



by Steve Barclay

This year marks the 65th year of business for Peterson Manufacturing Company. Known locally as the "Quiet Giant" in the Kansas City suburb of Grandview, Peterson has evolved with little fanfare from a tiny, retail-oriented manufacturer to a quarter-billion-dollar, multi-faceted corporation whose safety lighting products and other services reach millions of customers worldwide. Today the family-owned company headquarters on a 44-acre corporate campus in a state-of-the-art, 670,000-square-foot facility housing all departments of Peterson's vertically integrated operations.

Tobe Tennyson, longtime Peterson Associate and Archivist, recently compiled a timeline marking significant milestones in the history of the company. "I've been fortunate to be in the middle of so much change and growth at Peterson," he said. "And this is just the beginning -- we will continue to grow."
Among the many milestones that mark Peterson history are the following:

1945 - Company is founded in downtown Kansas City by Wilbur "Pete" Peterson; manufactures taillights for the automotive aftermarket.

1956 - Kansas City businessman Don Armacost Sr. buys the company from Peterson.

1960 - Peterson moves to a 35,000-square-foot facility in Kansas City.

1961 - Peterson makes industry news with its innovative VIBAR® socket.

1968 - FMVSS 108 sets new industry standards for safety lighting; Peterson commits to exceeding those standards by 25% or more. Peterson also introduces the popular 107 Mini-Lite for the trailer market.

1970 - Rapid growth prompts relocation to Peterson's current site in Grandview, Mo.

1974 - The legend of Grandview's "Quiet Giant" is born as Peterson embarks on the first of several facility expansions.

Peterson launches a landmark product for trailer markets: the classic 440 S/T/T Light.

1978 - Peterson launches the model 426 Series, its first sealed lights.

1980 - Booming business drives another major plant expansion.

1986 - NHTSA orders all new cars to sport a third, center-mounted brake light, driving explosive sales of Peterson's V300 Retrofit Lights.

1991 - More plant expansion as Peterson subsidiary, Mission Plastics North, moves operations to the Grandview campus.

1995 - Peterson leads industry in earning ISO 9001/QS-9000 registration. Company introduces Piranha® LED lights with a 36 LED S/T/T model.

1996 - Vector Tool & Engineering joins the corporate family.

1999 - Another industry first: the 10-diode LED S/T/T.

2003 - More innovation: the industry's first multi-function Strobe & Turn LED.

2005 - Custom wiring harness subsidiary, Maxi-Seal, moves to Grandview campus.

2006 - Growing customer demand drives the latest major plant expansion.

2010 - Grandview's "Quiet Giant" is now one of America's top three safety lighting manufacturers, offering a line of over 2,200 lighting-related products.
"We're proud to be celebrating our 65th anniversary," said Peterson President and CEO, Don Armacost, Jr. "While much has changed here, one thing that hasn't is a tradition of square dealing that my father established in the early days. It's brought this company a long way, and will continue to guide our relations with customers, suppliers and employees as we move ahead."

Peterson Manufacturing Company is a world-leading innovator in the production of a complete line of vehicle safety lighting, mirrors, reflectors, antennas and related products. As an ISO 9001:2008 certified company, Peterson Manufacturing is a key subsidiary of Peterson Corporation, 12 highly specialized companies and over 3,000 people working in global transportation-related industries.

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