About us

Our Beginnings

The company has been in business since 1935. Originally starting out in California with 24″ lights we had updated to the 60″ searchlights at the end of WWII. With that came a move to the Michigan and the introduction of Searchlights to the Detroit area. At one time Detroit Illuminating Service was one of the largest operators of advertising Searchlights with over 33 Searchlights out at a time. It was the way to draw people into your business and every year car dealers often rented them to bring people into the showroom.

dfp_101066There used to be a couple smaller operators in the area but they all seem to be gone now. I have heard that Searchlight operator (Jimit Inc) is no longer around. They got started after buying out the Beardslee Searchlight company mentioned in the advertisement above. It really is a small world!

Peak of Searchlight advertising

Peak of Searchlight advertising

Daylight savings time really hurt the rental aspect of the business. Now we focus on supplying both new and used parts which we hope will help others keep their Searchlights going for years to come. We still have an operating Sperry Searchlight but we mainly used that for special occasions and just for fun.

Here are some images from out archive:





It has been fun to revive one of our own lights and it is rewarding to assist others keep their searchlights running as well.


Robert L Doerr (Grandson of founder)


586-945-6127 mobile (Ask for Robert)


E-mail for parts and General Information: rdoerr@bizserve.com

Postal address

Detroit Illuminating Service
Attn: Robert Doerr
1538 Huntington Blvd
Grosse Pointe Woods, MIĀ  48236