Mar 15, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer, Staff WriterRiverton-based Brunton Outdoor Group announced that it had returned manufacturing of a line of compasses to Riverton, a move that is expected to create about 50 new jobs.
Brunton developed the BOSS (Brunton Orbital Sighting System) line of compasses to replace a line that had been manufactured in China.
Marketing manager Dani Schafer made the announcement Wednesday at a lecturn in the local headquarters in west Riverton, flanked by Gov. Matt Mead, Brig. Gen. Luke Reiner and company president and CEO John Smithbaker.
"Bringing this manufacturing back here to Wyoming has created about 50 new jobs," Schafer said, sparking a round of applause from the audience.
The company gave the announcement during an invitation-only event that was attended by numerous community leaders from government entities, businesses and nonprofit organizations.
On the hunt
Mead spoke next, recounting his first One Shot Antelope Hunt, when his single shot failed to bring down the antelope. Using a borrowed pair of Brunton binoculars, he watched the animal run away.
"I watched that thing go way way ... I think I teared up," he said.
Then Mead got serious, addressing Smithbaker.
"You're a guy with a remarkable vision," he said.
Citing the company's 40-year history in Riverton, he called Brunton "truly a Wyoming success story."
Mead said he would use Brunton's story as an example of what is possible in the state.
"You can run a business in Wyoming with a global reach," he said.
The company's website lists 20 foreign distributors, including Russia, Sweden and Croatia.
Mead likened Brunton to a compass because it "provides a path for others to follow."
Reiner followed Mead and spoke of the military's use of Brunton compasses.
"When you go to war ... you're only as good as your equipment," he said. "I've carried (a Brunton compass) for 30 years."
He held up his long-used compass for the audience to see, noting he's used his to shoot from and map artillery fields.
"Thank you again for what you're doing for your nation, and we'll keep carrying your compass," Reiner said.
Smithbaker gave Mead and Reiner each a new compass embossed with their names.
Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness presented Smithbaker with a proclamation, naming March 14, 2012, "Brunton Day."
"The City of Riverton is very grateful to have Brunton be part of the community," Warpness said.
Smithbaker then thanked the State of Wyoming for being business-friendly.
He also thanked everyone within the company.
"We have such a great staff that put their heart and soul into the product," Smithbaker said. "We are successful because of our people."
"We are only limited by ourselves," he continued. "We have a great opportunity ahead of us."
After the announcement was complete, the crowd dispersed and broke into small groups to tour the manufacturing facilities.
Leading one group was director of operations Greg Martinsen.
He said production on the BOSS compasses began in mid-January.
The company, he believed, had 68 people on the payroll with the ability to add the extra jobs as demand grows. The 50 additional jobs would be full-time.
He also stressed that more jobs are likely a result of the manufacturing because a few parts of the compass, like some plastic molding and label cards for the packaging, are created elsewhere in the country.
"It's a jazzier-looking compass," he said.
"Master crafted by the machinists and minds at Brunton's world headquarters in Riverton, Wyoming, and tested in the mountains and high plains that surround us, the Brunton OSS line of compasses are precision navigation, simplified," states a company press release.
The compass itself is situated on a base plate with tick marks for map readings and a sighting piece. Some are equipped with levels.
The higher-end compasses are already manufactured in-house and take about a single man-hour to complete, Martinsen said. That time is spread out over a number of days as the process involves creating many at a time.
Martinsen could not say exactly how long it takes to complete one of the new pieces, as the process was still new and being continually streamlined.
All of the BOSS's are being packaged in Riverton as well.
"The retailers are looking at our new compass line," Martinsen said, adding some carriers like REI have already picked it up.
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