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Brunton plans to grow Riverton facility

Mar 20, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The company has moved one department to Boulder, Colo., but the president says the Fremont County operation is staying put.

Brunton plans to grow by 50 percent just months after several jobs moved to Boulder, Colo. Company president Erron Sorrenson said the Riverton business is not leaving town.

"I would love to grow 50 percent in our compass business," Sorrenson said. "We're launching a new line of recreational compasses which are built in our factory (in Riverton)."

The company employs roughly 30 people in Riverton, and Sorrenson hopes to add employees in manufacturing, machinists, painters, management and logistics positions. He declined to give specific numbers on the number of hires in Riverton or Colorado or on time frames, citing restrictions on information he can release because his company is publicly traded.

Legacy Moulding, of Riverton, is producing molded plastic parts for the new compasses, Sorrenson said.

Brunton is known for manufacturing compasses, binoculars, rifle scopes and spotting scopes. It is a subsidiary of the Swedish firm Fenix Outdoor Group, which also owns camping-stove-maker Primus.

In December, the Boulder County Business Report said the Boulder location "may take on all North American operations" for Brunton, but Sorrenson denied the company would leave Riverton.

"It's not the case," he said. "The biggest thing is we're there, we're part of the community and we're still cranking along."

Since Sorrenson joined the company in November 2012 and he decided to work out of the Boulder location, the headquarters has been in Colorado, he said. The ease of travel from the Denver International Airport led him to choose Boulder.

"You only have three flights a day," he said of Riverton Regional Airport. "With severe weather in this corridor and small planes (service can be less reliable)."

The main factor, however, was the Riverton location added a connecting flight to any trip. He pointed to a recent trip.

"I got back from London at midnight last night," he said. "I would have had to spend the night in Denver and fly back in the morning, which would have added another day to my trip."

Brunton's purchasing and manufacturing operations remain in Riverton, and its sales and marketing division are located in Boulder. In April, the product development department moved from Fremont County to Boulder.

Compass improvements

Brunton has been making recreational compasses in Riverton for several years. They are used for outdoor recreation and by Boy Scouts, Sorrenson said.

The devices are cheaper than professional pocket transit compasses, which are used by geologists, archeologists, surveyors and engineers and can cost several hundred dollars.

Brunton recently added some new technology to its recreational compasses.

"That's being pretty well reachieved and we expect that business to grow," Sorrenson said.

Some of the features came from the transit compasses. One is a needle balanced so the compass can be used in the southern hemisphere as well as the northern.

Poorly balanced compass needles will point into ground in the southern hemisphere because the most direct line to magnetic north is through the Earth, Sorrenson said.

Brunton also introduced "permanent magnetism" to the needles. Other companies magnetize a piece of metal electrically, but such magnetism can wear off, Sorrenson said.

The permanently magnetic needles also give "greater accuracy and smoother use," he said.

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