There has been always been a question about whether someone is buying a Hidden Hitch trailer hitch or whether all trailer hitches are hidden hitches. Just like the beginning days of the refridgerator when everyone thought they were call Fridgidaire, people confuse the brand with the product when looking at trailer hitches.
Hidden Hitch did a number of things right when they started the business. First, they put their name on every hitch in large enough letters so that you could see it from your driver's seat if you were the car behind them. Secondly, when the designs of SUVs and pickup trucks moved from a rather square look to a more rounded look, they changed their hitches to a round bar look. Every step of their development was original and innovative in this market.
A few years ago, however, Hidden Hitch was purchased by a much larger company. This company wanted to roll up all of the major hitch companies into one operation. They owned Reese Hitch and added Draw-Tite and Hidden Hitch to their stable. Unfortunately, for the trailering community, this merger ended most of the creative improvements in the market. Hidden Hitch is no longer a leader, but only a follower in the market. They used to brag about being the first to market and now that is no longer the case. Only a few weeks ago, Valley Industries are purchased by the management from Thule. This will create a new and exciting independent hitch manufacturer. This should spark new creativity as they look for ways to take the market share that Cequent (Hidden Hitch, Reese, Draw-Tite) has in the market. Let's take a moment and explore the history of Hidden Hitch.
Hidden Hitch is a subsidiary of Cequent, which in turn is part of Trimas, a former Masco company. Cequent not only owns Hidden Hitch, but they also own the following brands:
7. Reese Towpower
Hidden Hitch was founded in Canada in 1968. Their first years were spent servicing the Canadian market. In the 1970s they started to market to the USA, but their success in the US only began in the mid-1980s when they introduced the first round tube style hitch. Up until that time all hitches were made with square tubes.
By 1988 they expanded their market by adding the first hitch mounted bicycle carrier. Because of the growth of SUVs and pickup trucks at that time, the typical trunk mounted bicycle carriers were ineffective. The idea of adding a detachable bike carrier onto a hitch was a huge success.
In 1991, Hidden Hitch introduced the first Class I hitch with a removable draw bar. This innovation saved many shins for people who had hitches on their passenger cars and were trying to get something out of the trunk. Maybe this was Hidden Hitch's contribution to help solve the health care crisis
Recognizing that drilling holes into a painted hitch for the mounting of a electrical connection was causing installers extra work and also increasing the risk of rusting, Hidden Hitch started in 1993 to ship their hitches with the mounting points for the electrical connections pre-cut.
Recognizing that a rusting hitch on the back of a new or well maintained vehicle is not good for the reputation of the hitch manufacturer or the vehicle owner, Hidden Hitch set out to improve their painting system. By 1995, they were the first hitch manufacturer to pass a 500 hour salt spray test.
A late entrant into the 5th wheel hitch business, Hidden Hitch made up for the lost time by designing the first "puzzle lock" jaw 5th wheel hitch in 1999. This product came to market just as the large truck and SUVs were at their zenith. In 2002 they added a range of custom 5th wheel rail kits to make the installation easier for these products.
Much of their new product innovation has slowed down since 2003. Their merger with Reese Hitch and Draw-Tite Hitch has been the focus. With this consolidation, Cequent has moved to make all thre brands at the same factories and the designs almost totally interchangeable. Quite frankly, the Reese, Draw-Ttie and Hidden Hitch products are primarily differentiated by the name on the box and not particularly the product in the box.
The initial question was why is a Hidden Hitch called a hidden hitch? When they first came out with their hitches, they strove to keep the hitch as close to the bumper as possible. When they added the round tube hitch, the cosmetic look of this utiliitarian device was greatly improved. The round shape of the hitch blended with the round design of the bumper fascia. Many people think the Hidden Hitch cannot be seen when mounted on the vehicle. This is an incorrect impression, but the name has give Hidden Hitch a great marketing advantage in that the perception of the product adds great value to the brand.
You can find Hidden Hitch, Reese Towpower, Curt Hitches and Valley Hitches at Hitches4Less.com. They have been a leading on-line seller of trailer hitches, wiring kits and other towing accessories for over 10 years.