Garmin Ltd. history, profile and history video

 Garmin Ltd. provides navigation, communication, and information devices and application that are enabled by global positioning system technology. The company operates through the five segments: Automotive and Mobile, Aviation, Marine, Outdoor and Fitness. The Automotive and Mobile segment offers automotive navigation products that include personal navigation devices, motorcycle-specific navigators and navigation applications for smartphones. The Aviation segment includes GPS-enabled navigation, VHF communications transmitters, receivers, multi-function displays, electronic flight instrumentation systems, automatic flight control systems, traffic advisory systems and traffic collision avoidance systems, instrument landing system receivers, surveillance products, audio panels, and cockpit data link system. The Marine segment comprises of handhelds, network products and multifunction displays, fixed-mount GPS and chart plotter products, instruments, fishfinders, radar, autopilots, very high-frequency radios, marine networking products, and sounder products. The Outdoor segment involves portable GPS receivers and accessories that include lightweight training assistants for athletes, integrated personal training systems designed for cyclists, handheld GPS navigators with built-in mapping, handheld two-way family radio service and general mobile service, outdoor handheld devices for hunters, hikers, geocachers and outdoors enthusiasts, handheld GPS for golfers, and GPS-enabled dog tracking system. The Fitness segment offers compact, lightweight training assistants for athletes with an integrated GPS sensor, Garmin connect mobile applications and Garmin Swim. The company was founded in July 2000 and is headquartered in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Garmin History


In 1983, Gary Burrell recruited Min H. Kao from a defense contractor Magnavox while working for the former King Radio. The pair founded Garmin in 1989 in Lenexa, Kansas, as ProNav. ProNav’s first product was a GPS unit which sold for $2,500 USD. The company later received its name Garmin, composed of the first names of its two founders. In 1991, it got the U.S. Army as the first customer.

By 1995 Garmin’s sales had reached $105 million, and had achieved a profit of $23 million. By 1999 sales had reached $233 million and profit of $64 million. Garmin reported a 2006 total revenue of $1.77 billion, up 73 percent from $1.03 billion in 2005.

On May 13, 1999, AirCell and Garmin International announced an alliance to develop new products that use AirCell’s unique cellular air-ground link to bring affordable flight communications, navigation and safety to general aviation aircraft.

Burrell retired in 2003 as Garmin’s chief executive officer and in 2004 retired as chairman of its board of directors. He is now chairmanemeritus. Kao became CEO in 2003, and chairman in 2004.

In 2005, Forbes estimated Kao’s net worth at $1.5 billion. He has donated $17.5 million to the University of Tennessee. The same year Forbes estimated Burrell’s net worth as $940 million.

Public offering

By 2000 Garmin had sold three million GPS devices, and was producing 50 different models. Its products were sold in 100 countries and carried by 2,500 independent distributors. As of 22 August 2000, the company held 35 patents on GPS technology. By the end of June 2000, the company employed 1,205 people: 541 in the United States, 635 in Taiwan, and 29 in the United Kingdom.

The company began public trading on NASDAQ on 8 December 2000. At that time Burrell owned 19,911,155 shares. Kao owned 20,352,803 shares. Together their holdings accounted for 45 percent of the stock in Garmin. Kao’s brother, Ruey-Jeng Kao, an attorney in Taipei, owned another 7,984,109 shares, which when combined with Burrell’s and Kao’s shares constituted 54.22 percent of the shares outstanding.

Worldwide companies

Garmin operates in several other countries besides the UK, USA, and Taiwan. It operates as Formar (Belgium), Garmin AMB (Canada), Belanor (Norway), and Trepat (Spain).


In August 2003 Garmin completed the acquisition of UPS Aviation Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of United Parcel Service, Inc., expanding its product line of panel-mounted GPS/NAV/COMM units and integrated cockpit systems for private and commercial aircraft. The acquired company changed its name to Garmin AT, Inc. and continued operations as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Garmin International, Inc.

Garmin has acquired Dynastream Innovations, EME Tec Sat SAS (EME), and Digital Cyclone. Dynastream, located in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, is a leader in the field of personal monitoring technology (ANT+) — such as foot pods and heart rate monitors for sports and fitness products — and is also a leading provider of ultra-low-power and low-cost wireless connectivity solutions for a wide range of applications (ANT). EME Tec Sat SAS (EME) is the distributor of Garmin’s consumer products in France; following the acquisition, EME will change its name to Garmin France SASDigital Cyclone Inc (DCI), located in Chanhassen, Minnesota, provides mobile weather solutions for consumers, pilots, and outdoor enthusiasts. Garmin also bought Nautamatic Marine Systems, an Oregon-based company that makes autopilot systems for boats. In July 2011, Garmin finished its acquisition of the German satellite navigation company Navigon. 

Recent corporate activity

In 2006, Garmin released all of its software for Mac OS X. Also in 2006, Garmin introduced a new corporate logo, and the opening of its first retail store on Michigan Avenuein Chicago, Illinois.

*Information from Forbes.com and Wikipedia.org

**Video published on YouTube by “Garmin