There are few companies in the four-wheel drive arena that have been able to stand the test of time. Recessions, competition, family feuds, and the inability to roll with rapid technological developments have rendered many to be no more than dusty and long-forgotten memories. Those that have survived the aforementioned gauntlet and avoided being acquired by a Wall Street equities firm have usually done so with solid business practices, family values, and by the next generation keeping abreast of technology and carrying on the founder’s ethos.
If we roll back the pages of time to the chapter called The Early ’70s (we’ll refer to these as the Dark Ages), there were few options in the off-road auxiliary lighting arena. On a dark, moonless night in the Southern California desert, an avid backcountry enthusiast struggled to see the dirt two-track that lay beyond his pale yellow headlights. Returning home, he thought to himself, “there must be a better way.” His name was Peter Kim Brown, and the seed of inspiration planted that day would change the way we see the world—especially at night.
I bought my first set of KC Daylighters around 1983. I loved the yellow smiley face covers, and the Daylighters, well, they lit up my nights. When I bumped into KC HiLiTES President Michael DeHaas a few years ago at Overland Expo, he suggested that I take a tour of their facility. It was an offer not to pass up.
I talked with Michael about the company’s 46-year legacy, the transition from incandescent and halogen to HID and LED, and how they have kept much of their production in the U.S. Follow this link to explore the history behind one of the most coveted names in off-road lighting.