History of PerTronix
From Per-Lux to PerTronix: Four Decades of Excellence
Originally known as Per-Lux, the company was founded in 1962 by Lavar Holman, primarily a manufacturer of driving and fog lights for the heavy-duty market (big rig trucks). In the early 70’s, an engineer came up with the idea of an electronic ignition system that would replace the points and condenser in distributors. After patenting the product, Per-Lux started manufacturing the Ignitor with sales and marketing emphasis on the lift truck and industrial engine markets. The product gained wide acceptance with fleet managers who came to realize the dramatic improvement in reliability and reduced maintenance cost whether they were responsible for delivery trucks, school buses or generator/industrial engines. Only a few automotive applications were available in those early years, but automotive enthusiasts began using the Ignitor for the superior performance it offered. Utilizing the Ignitor technology, a complete electronic distributor was developed in 1985 and supplied to Wis-Con, a major original equipment engine manufacturer. Now, the PerTronix Electronic distributor is offered to the aftermarket to fit a variety of industrial and agricultural engines.
“With the tremendous growth of the performance industry in the 90’s, PerTronix began to shift their emphasis to their automotive product offering, adding over 80 applications.”
In early 1990, Per-Lux sold their lighting division to Grote International and a year later the management team lead by Tom Reh, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, acquired the ignition division. The name change in 1991 to PerTronix signaled the company’s total commitment to the ignition business, while carrying on a 29-year tradition of quality, performance and customer service. With the tremendous growth of the performance industry in the 90’s, PerTronix began to shift their emphasis to their automotive product offering, adding over 80 applications. Jim Hairston, former Director of Sales and Marketing at Hooker Industries, joined PerTronix in May 1999 in the newly created position of Director of Marketing and Product Development further signaling the company’s commitment to growing their performance market with increased distribution, product development and strategic acquisitions and alliances.
“Why distribute PerTronix?” says Jim Hairston. “Maybe a well-respected performance WD answered this question best when he referred to us” as a “best kept secret, a real Clark Kent line of performance ignition products.” According to Hairston, the electronic points replacement ignition category has continued to show unit sales growth in spite of the fact that most points-type distributors haven’t been used in new cars since the late seventies and early eighties. This substantial growth along with the addition of their Flame-ThrowerÔ coil and spark plug wire product lines made it necessary for PerTronix to expand production and relocate to a brand new 22,000 square foot custom manufacturing facility in 1997. By the end of 1999, the company’s Ignitor kit sales exceeded 2,000,000 units for the decade with double-digit growth in each year.
Hairston points out that a closer look at the market shows that many of the popular street performance cars still utilize points-type distributors. “The resto-mod element of this market is a great niche for our products. The enthusiast wants late model technology for the improved performance and reliability but also wants to preserve the stock look under his hood. CD ignition systems, with their external boxes, don’t meet the customer’s needs. Our Ignitor module is engineered to permanently replace the points using rotating cobalt magnets enclosed in a plastic sleeve mounted on the distributor shaft, which triggers an electronic switching module (Hall effect integrated circuit). The unit fits entirely inside the distributor with no need for an external box. Our module is also used by many racers as a trigger for multi-spark boxes and has been recommended by MSD for years”, concluded Hairston.
PerTronix has greatly expanded their ignition offering over the last few years including the addition of the Ignitor II micro controller points replacement system for increased high RPM performance, Flame-Thrower® HEI and Billet Plug n’ Play distributors including marine applications, Second Strike® ignition box, Digital Rev Limiter and the new Flame-Thrower HV 60,000 volt coils.
In August 2000, PerTronix completed the acquisition of Ermie Immerso Enterprises, a 30 year old exhaust products manufacturer and SEMA member since 1974. “It made sense to get in the exhaust business because of my extensive background in the category and the strong interest from our existing warehouse distributors for a reliable, high quality and competitively priced product”, commented Hairston. PerTronix’s newly formed exhaust division operates in a 34,000 square foot facility located in Rancho Dominguez, California. Under the brand names Patriot Exhaust, Thunderbird Products and Smithy mufflers, PerTronix supplies the Street Rod, Volkswagen and Muscle Car markets with headers, mufflers, side pipes and do-it-yourself header components primarily through performance warehouse distributors.
In January 2005, Doug’s Headers became the latest PerTronix Performance Brand and a welcomed addition to their exhaust division helping expand their product line to include many new header applications for muscle cars, SUVS, trucks and motorhomes. The original Doug’s Headers was located in Whittier, California and began producing quality headers in 1958. Doug’s personal motto was “the customer should only have to install the headers, not remanufacture them to fit their vehicle.” Doug’s Riverside manufacturing facilities have been relocated and integrated to PerTronix’s Rancho Dominguez exhaust plant. Exhaust products distribution and product development has now been relocated to a new 40,000 square foot facility in Irwindale, California. Ignition product shipments are still handled from PerTronix’s San Dimas, California location.
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