Maui Jim

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Maui Jim
TypePrivately held company
IndustryFashion, manufacturing
FoundedLahaina, Hawaii, U.S. (1980)[1]
FounderJim Richards
Key people
Walter Hester, CEO
Mike Dalton, President
ProductsSunglasses, eyewear, apparel

Maui Jim is a sunglasses manufacturer based in Peoria, Illinois.[2] The company was founded in Lahaina, Hawaii, in 1980.[1]

As of 2015, the company was the third-largest producer of sunglasses in the world.[1]


The company's roots began in 1980 when a fisherman began selling sunglasses on the beaches of Maui, Hawaii.[1][3] He was known as the original "Maui Jim".[1] Several years later, the company developed polarized sunglasses to protect eyes from glare and ultraviolet rays.

In 1991, Walter Hester, a boat captain, purchased the company and built the brand to what it is today.[3] He named the company Hester Enterprises, Inc.[4]

In 1994, Illinois-based RLI Vision became the mainland distributor for the company, then called Maui Jim Sunglasses.[1]

In 1996, Maui Jim Sunglasses bought RLI Vision from its parent company, Peoria, Illinois-based RLI Corp., and named the new combined entity Maui Jim Inc.[5] The transaction was structured such that RLI Corp became a major shareholder in Maui Jim, and the company moved its headquarters to Peoria.[3] The company kept an office in Maui.[6]

In 2004, the company opened a distribution center in Braunschweig, Germany, a location that eventually became its European headquarters.[7]

In June 2006, the company opened its first prescription lab in Peoria, IL.[8]

In 2011, the company bought Zeal Optics, a Boulder, Colorado-based designer and manufacturer of action-sport polarized goggles and sunglasses.[9][10]

By 2015, the company had approximately 500 employees.[1] Also in 2015, the company became the title sponsor of college basketball's Maui Invitational Tournament.[11]

In March 2018, the company started selling optical eyeglasses.[12] In July, the company opened its first prescription lab outside of Peoria, located at its European headquarters in Braunschweig.[7]


As of 2016, the company sold 125 different styles of polarized sunglasses in over 100 countries.[13][14] In addition to their non-prescription sports and fashion sunglasses, Maui Jim also produces prescription lenses for their designs including progressive lenses.[3][12]

The company's glasses incorporate a patented polarization technology called PolarizedPlus2.[15]


Besides its Peoria headquarters, Maui Jim maintains an office and store front in Lahaina, Hawaii, a Canadian office in Mississauga, Ontario, and a European headquarters in Braunschweig, Germany.[6][7][16]


The company sponsors college basketball's Maui Invitational Tournament, called the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.[11] The company also sponsors the Australian Sailing Team,[17] professional marathoner Meb Keflezighi, golfer Ernie Els, and kiteboarder Dave Shah, who are brand ambassadors.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Extra: For Maui Jim, one simple word says it all — aloha". 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  2. ^ "Company Overview of RLI Vision Corp". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  3. ^ a b c d Jargon, Julie (2005-12-05). "Do baby boomers equal bright future?". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  4. ^ "Company Overview of Maui Jim, Inc". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  5. ^ "Maui Jim buys RLI Vision". 1996-12-18. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  6. ^ a b "Maui Jim Sunglasses is passionate about giving back". 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  7. ^ a b c "Maui Jim acquires Zeal Optics". 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  8. ^ "Optical Lab Leaders: Tech Titan: Paul Ponder". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  9. ^ "Sunday BIZ: Zeal President John Sanchez On Building An Uncommon Brand". 2012-11-24. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  10. ^ "Maui Jim Enhances Service to Europe With New Lab in Germany". 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  11. ^ a b Eleni Gill, Lorin (2015-03-11). "Maui Jim is title sponsor of Maui Invitational basketball tournament". American City Business Journals. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  12. ^ a b "Cult sunglass brand Maui Jim gets into eyeglasses". 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  13. ^ "Top Vendors in the Global Sunglasses Market". 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  14. ^ "Tarter: Aloha spirit goes hand-in-hand with sales growth". 2015-03-13. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  15. ^ "Maui Jim retains status as Best Sunglass Company". 2016-01-13. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  16. ^ "Maui Jim Canada, Inc". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  17. ^ Australian Sailing Team Partners. Australian Sailing Retrieved 1 May 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "Meb Keflezighi Is Running the NYC Marathon—But Will He Make a Run for the Tokyo Olympics?". 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  19. ^ "Maui Jim". Retrieved 2018-11-08.

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