Garmin is an American multinational corporation, committed to making superior products for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor and fitness markets and determined to be the global leader in every market it serves. Garmin’s mission is to develop high-end manufacturing products that last over time. Its goal and success is to combine technology with simplicity. In fact, the products are high-tech and sophisticated, yet easy to use.
In the past years, Garmin expanded by diversifying its production making itself the
world’s leading manufacturer in the GPS industry and an important player in other industries as well.
Founded in Lenexa, Kansas (US) in 1989, Garmin has got manufacturing and sales operations in the United States and in Taiwan and a marketing office in the United Kingdom. Today, its main headquarter is located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Two American engineers and businessmen Gary Burrell and Min H. Kao founded the company under the name ProNav. The company later changed its name to Garmin putting together the co-founders’ names (Gary and Min).
Having the U.S. Army as their first consumer, Garmin’s first product was the GPS 100 aimed at the marine market, debuting in 1991. It was a huge hit and the company ended up with backorders of 5,000 units. Their first portable unit, the GPS-95, endowed with a moving map, was introduced in 1993. By 1995 the company had already a big market value, with more than $100 million sales and $23 million of profits. From 1995 to 1999 sales increased enormously and profits reached the heights of $64 million: Garmin was becoming one of the leading companies worldwide.
The decade beginning in 2000 saw another explosive growth for Garmin: the eTrex series of products was launched and soon became one of the company’s most popular walkinghandheld GPS receivers. As eTrex was taking the market by storm, Garmin introduced a series of dedicated automobile navigation devices, such as the StreetPilot III, which was the first one to offer a color display and voice commands, perfecting the old model launched in 1998. Year 2000 marked a milestone also because Garmin went public on the NASDAQ stock market (GRMN).
Following the great success of GPS devices, the company decided to expand in other markets creating the Forerunner brand in 2003, consisting in sport watches that contain a Global Positioning System. Athletes could use it to measure heart rate, pace, speed, distance and altitude, and many more data. In 2003, also the iQue line of integrated PDA-GPS receivers was launched. PDAs are mobile devices that function as personal information managers, later discontinued after the increasing popularity of smartphones. In August of the same year, Garmin completed the acquisition of UPS Aviation Technologies, Inc. which later became Garmin AT, Inc. and continued operations as a owned subsidiary of Garmin. In 2005, the Nüvi series was released. It was the first automotive GPS which had a rectangular shape made expressly to fit in a pocket. During those years Garmin also acquired Dynastream Innovations and EME Tec Sat SAS (EME). The latter is the French distributor of Garmin’s products which changed its name to Garmin France SAS. From 2006 to 2008, the company realized some important innovations: it released softwares for Mac Os X and opened its first retail store in Chicago, Illinois. It also began sponsoring the English Premier League football club Middlesbrough, decision which contributed to a further increase in sales. In 2008 Garmin launched Oregon, the first walking handheld GPS device with a touchscreen, which made operations much easier and quicker. The product was a huge success and soon became very popular. In early 2009, the company announced the production of a new cell phone in cooperation with Asus, the Nüvifone, which was not very successful and stopped being produced just one year later. In 2011, the acquisition of the German satellite navigation company Navigon was completed. International sales were always very important. Garmin further expanded its line of products in 2013 with the introduction of the Approach S4 touchscreen GPS golf watch andVIRB, its first HD action camera series. Years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were significant as the company went through several acquisitions that allowed to further increase its scope. As of April 2016, Garmin’s total revenue is $624 million, growing 7% over the prior year, with outdoor, fitness, aviation and marine collectively contributing for 69% of it. The brand is constantly expanding production and launching new innovative products.