Peterson Manufacturing Company turns 65 years old

This year marks the 65th year of business for Peterson Manufacturing Company. Known as the “Quiet Giant” in the Kansas City suburb of Grandview MO, Peterson has evolved 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. The family-owned company headquarters on a 44-acre corporate campus in a 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 milestones in the history of the company, including:

  • 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-sq-ft Kansas City facility.

  • 1968 — FMVSS 108 sets new industry standards for safety lighting; Peterson commits to exceeding those standards by 25% or more.

  • 1970 — Relocation to Peterson's current site in Grandview.

  • 1974 — Peterson embarks on the first of several facility expansions and launches the 440 S/T/T light.

  • 1978 — Peterson launches the Model 426 Series, its first sealed lights.

  • 1980 — Another major plant expansion.

  • 1986 — NHTSA orders all new cars to sport a third, center-mounted brake light, driving sales of V300 retrofit lights.

  • 1991 — More plant expansion as Peterson subsidiary Mission Plastics North moves operations to Grandview.

  • 1996 — Vector Tool & Engineering joins the corporation.

  • 1999 — The 10-diode LED S/T/T is produced.

  • 2003 — Peterson offers multi-function Strobe & Turn LED.

  • 2005 — Custom wiring harness subsidiary Maxi-Seal moves to Grandview.

  • 2006 — Another major plant expansion.

  • 2010 — Peterson is now one of America's top three safety lighting manufacturers, offering more than 2,200 lighting-related products.

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