Mag Instrument and The MAGLITE Flashlight - A History

One Man's Abiding Commitment

Every flashlight made by Mag Instrument, Inc., represents one man’s abiding commitment to product quality, and to the cause of keeping flashlight-industry manufacturing jobs in America.

A champion of free enterprise and U.S.-based manufacturing, Anthony Maglica is the president of Mag Instrument, Inc. and the creator of the MAGLITE® flashlight, now an icon of classic American design.

Armed with only his talent, his determination and his reverence for hard work, Tony Maglica set out in pursuit of the American Dream when he founded Mag Instrument in 1955. When he went on to design and manufacture a product that revolutionized an industry, he realized that Dream in full. In his ongoing pursuit of innovative technology, quality products, design and the customer service to back them up, Mr. Maglica has found a strategy that not only creates worldwide demand for his own company’s products, but can also, he believes, help other American companies to build worldwide demand for their products while preserving American manufacturing jobs.

Humble Beginnings

Born in New York City during the Great Depression, Tony Maglica was raised in his mother’s native Croatia. He was a small child when his mother decided to return to Croatia so that he could be raised close to her family. In 1950, with the country in the ruins of World War II and Communists in control, Tony escaped back to America. Here he set out to make the most of his training as an experimental machinist, though he spoke no English. He taught himself a few words a day while taking employment where he could find it, and worked for himself in what were supposed to be his off hours. Still it was a struggle to save any money. Finally he managed to save $125, the down payment on his first lathe. So began Tony Maglica’s quest for the American Dream: There in his one-man machine shop in a Los Angeles area garage, he knew that his days of working for other people were behind him. He was, at last, in business for himself.

Mr. Maglica began by manufacturing precision parts for industry, aerospace and the military. He quickly earned a reputation for quality, efficiency and ingenuity. Mag Instrument was eventually incorporated in 1974. By that time, Mr. Maglica had clearly demonstrated his innovative techniques for cutting production costs and increasing quality. Continuous improvement is a talent that continues to keep his company ahead of the competition. Mr. Maglica established a hands-on leadership style, as well as a core business philosophy of combining superior quality of all Mag products with unsurpassed customer service.

Lighting the Path to Success

As his company grew, Mr. Maglica set his sights on designing and manufacturing a new and improved flashlight. Initially targeted for the public safety sector, the Maglite® flashlight was introduced in 1979. Police officers, firefighters and mechanics quickly spread the word about this rugged, reliable anodized aluminum flashlight, which would change the portable lighting industry forever. Committed to product innovation and refinement, Mr. Maglica followed up the success of the MAGLITE® flashlight with the Maglite® Rechargeable Flashlight System™, one of the most powerful rechargeable flashlights of its size. The Mini MAGLITE® AA flashlight was launched in 1984 and set a new standard for personal size flashlights. A smaller AAA-Cell version of the Mini MAGLITE® flashlight, ideal for many industrial and medical applications, was introduced in 1987; and the Solitaire® single AAA-Cell flashlight, designed for keychains and purses, was introduced in 1988.

Often referred to as “A Work of Art That Works®”, the MAGLITE® and Mini MAGLITE® flashlights have been honored by the Japan Institute of Design and by the Museum for Applied Art in Germany. Fortune and Money magazines ranked Mag Instrument® products among the top 100 products that “America makes best”. In 1996, the Wall Street Journal referred to the Maglite® flashlight as “the Cadillac of flashlights”, and quoted then-CEO of Apple Computer Gilbert F. Amelio as saying he wanted Apple to be “essentially the MAGLITE® of computers”.

Expansion and Innovation

Headquartered in Ontario, California, since 1982, Mag Instrument now has several 100 employees and occupies over 700,000 square feet of space, including its factory, offices and main distribution center.

New products are constantly under development at Mag Instrument, but they are introduced only when Mr. Maglica is personally satisfied that their design and execution are up to Mag Instrument standards. In the meantime, he has plenty of other interests to occupy his time, including building an environmental reclamation plant in Zlarin, Croatia, where he grew up. From Mr. Maglica’s childhood home to the birthplace of his success, this patriot and businessman continues to champion and exemplify the blessings of free enterprise.

Our Philosophy

Mag Instrument is dedicated to the highest standards of integrity. We seek performance and a reputation reflecting the very best we can achieve.

Each Mag Instrument flashlight represents a culmination of decades of research, development and continuous state-of-the-art refinement in every precision feature. Mag Instrument is proud to be a U.S.A. Manufacturer.

We believe the spirit and character of the company is most clearly defined and expressed by our founder, owner and president Anthony Maglica. Each flashlight is a result of his obsession with fine engineering, craftsmanship and his commitment to perfection. An experimental machinist by training and a manufacturing innovator by practice, Mr. Maglica has guided his company’s growth from a one-man machine shop in 1955 to an enterprise that employs over 800 dedicated employees today. But his work does not stop there. Mr. Maglica continues his commitment to quality by continually improving upon the product that bears his name.

Mag Instrument is proud to be a leader in the current renaissance in American manufacturing. Mr. Maglica himself, a fervent believer in the importance of manufacturing in the United States, insists that Mag remain a U.S.A. Manufacturer. He has dedicated himself to proving that American products can excel in the global marketplace by using technology to continually improve quality and reduce costs. Over the last two decades, Mr. Maglica’s innovations have enabled Mag Instrument to offer consumers a consistently better value than the competition.

The Lion & The Gazelle

An African proverb, the story of the Lion and the Gazelle has long been a source of inspiration for Tony Maglica, and continues to inspire MagLite today.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: To be able to run faster than the fastest lion. If he cannot, then he will be eaten.

Every morning in Africa a lion awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: To be able to run faster than the slowest gazelle. If he cannot, he will die of hunger.

Whether you choose to be a gazelle or a lion is of no consequence. It is enough to know that with the rising of the sun, you must run. And you must run faster than you did yesterday or you will die.

This is the race of life