About KC HiLiTES®
TODAY AND THE FUTURE: LIGHTING ADVENTURE
KC is the world’s most trusted off-road lighting company and our products are used to ensure racers can make split second decisions, the military can achieve critical success and the adventurer in all of us can go farther. We have delivered iconic smiley face lights to customers since 1970 with an unwavering commitment to making premium products that are innovative and unique. At every intersection of our products, employees, customers, and industry partners we embrace our legacy and traditions while forging a brighter, better future for generations to come.
KC Created the first off-road light in 1970 which quickly became the performance standard for the world’s top endurance racers. We take features developed for racing and design them into products for the consumer off-road market delivering premium lighting products and adventure solutions for anyone that has a passion for taking vehicles on the paths less traveled. Today the iconic KC brand is a symbol of trust, quality and performance.
In January of 2017 the original founders joined forces with some new partners that set KC off on a new adventure that is inspired by a rich timeless legacy with goals that have infinite possibilities.
Our vision is to create a brighter world, full of adventure through meaningful experiences with each other.
Our mission is to design premium unique products that illuminate life’s adventures.
THE PAST: INNOVATION AND QUALITY
Today, KC HiLiTES is still all about quality and customer service. Our lights are designed and built to be tough, built to last and built with the absolute commitment to quality that is backed by our 23 year warranty. Inside out, KC has never accepted anything less than the highest functional designs, quality materials and workmanship across our products. Light reflectors are meticulously polished to produce the brightest possible reflective surface and bulbs are specially designed for the intended applications. KC light housings feature the most rugged and toughest of finishes. All stainless steel housings are polished and sealed for endurance and longevity. Our chrome and black housings are triple plated, polished and reinforced with various environmental inhibitors. All of our composite housings feature an extremely tough combination of nylon glass reinforced plastics and resins. While Pete can still be found traveling across the country making pickups and deliveries in KC’s Semi-Truck, Michael DeHaas, Brown’s stepson, now leads the company’s strategic direction. Michael has been key to the natural evolution of the company and its products that include the popular Apollo Pro, SlimLite, Carbon POD, LZR LEDs, Gravity LEDs and various series of technology driven LED lights. Michael studied Marketing at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and graduated in 1991. He continued his education by obtaining his Master’s degree in Business in 1996. Michael has worked at KC for over 25 years, starting in the warehouse at the age of 15 and progressing to National Sales Manager at age 27. Armed with his business degrees and passion for the desert, DeHaas purchased KC from Pete in 2004. DeHaas and his team spend many hours and weekends at off-road races and in race cars collaborating with racers to push the limits of KC’s products which is pivotal to teams who race into the night. With only seconds to make decisions while traveling at dangerous speeds DeHaas has made it a mission to create lights that out perform the most demanding situations. It is this intimate, hands-on process of research and design that is at the center of every KC Product.
THE LEGACY: AMERICAN INGENUITY
KC HiLiTES was started by American entrepreneur Peter Kim Brown and his wife Carol Brown (using their initials KC) in his garage in Saugus, California. As a pickup truck owner and avid off road enthusiast he was looking for some improved lighting for his vehicle. In the late 1960’s Pete was camping in Parker, Arizona and nearly missed a necessary turn at night. Without any good auxiliary lighting products available on the market at the time he set off to create the first off road lighting system known as KC’s Daylighter® which has changed the off road lighting industry forever. Pete found some aircraft landing bulbs and retrofitted them to steel housings which would serve as the initial concept for KC’s Daylighter®. When friends and truck enthusiasts saw the performance and quality of the Daylighters®, they too wanted the lights; he kept pace with demand. Pete was a computer operator at night so during the day he would build KC lights in his garage. He started advertising in camping magazines and promoting his products at local races. As the demand for KC’s grew he employed neighbors to help him with assembly so he could scale the business. Pete and his small team would also package and ship them to consumers all around Southern California.
The company grew rapidly and by 1974 it was time to make this a full time job. Pete relocated KC HiLiTES to Williams, Arizona where the main factory remains today. Little did he know the lights he engineered for his personal truck would become a global icon in the lighting industry now with global distribution in 35 countries around the world. KC’s Daylighter® served as the backbone of KC’s product line for generations. As the demand of the deserts increased, Pete developed various enhancements including a special patented isolated rubber mount and rubber reflector ring for the Daylighter® to enhance vibration dampening within the metal housing which he experienced during his off-road adventures. The 70’s and 80’s brought more innovations in lighting and KC was at the forefront. Many long hours were spent collaborating with GE engineers, learning about the intricacies of lighting, sealed beams, filaments, the varied types of construction, wattage and what candlepower was really all about. KC’s products were always tested by Pete but also by many race teams which included off road pioneers Walker Evans and Ivan Stewart. Since the beginning, KC’s involvement with motor sports has been critical to the process of designing, engineering and manufacturing the most advanced performance lighting available. In the 90’s, KC developed various products using HID (High Intensity Discharge) technology, based on the same metal halide concept used to illuminate giant sports complexes. Our HID lights are now found on many winning off road race vehicles including Cameron Steele, Jason Voss, Rob MacCaren, Scott Douglas, Curt LeDuc, Ron Whitton, Randy Merritt, Shannon Campbell and many others. As the original manufacturer of off-road auxiliary lighting, KC HiLiTES continues sets the standard – we created it.