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Garmin adds autopilot line

Jul 15, 2009 In a move that adds a proven line of autopilot products to its lineup, the consumer electronics maker Garmin has purchased Nautamatic Marine Systems, an autopilot builder.

From the press release: Garmin Ltd. announced that it has today acquired substantially all the assets of Nautamatic Marine Systems, Inc., manufacturer of the TR-1 Gold and Gladiator marine autopilots

Financial terms of the transaction were not released. All of Nautamatic's 28 employees have joined Garmin's U.S. subsidiary, Garmin International, Inc. and will be based in the facilities previously occupied by Nautamatic in Newport, Oregon and Dania Beach, Florida. The acquisition is expected to be neutral to Garmin Ltd. earnings in 2007.

Nautamatic Marine Systems, which has operated under the name TR-1 Autopilots, and was founded in 1994 by Graham Dorland and Doug Ford, is known for its innovative patented marine autopilot technology that does not require a rudder-angle sensor. These sensors are often the biggest installation and maintenance challenges in other autopilot systems. In addition, Nautamatic's patented ShadowDrive technology lets boaters make manual course changes from the helm without disengaging the autopilot. TR-1 Autopilots are currently factory installed by dozens of respected boat manufacturers and are offered as an aftermarket accessory through a network of independent dealers.

Garmin will initially continue to offer the existing TR-1 marine autopilot products and intends to develop new marine autopilot products that will be integrated with Garmin Marine Network products.

"Nautamatic is known for its technology innovation and the reliability of its autopilots," said Dr. Min Kao, chairman and CEO of Garmin, Ltd. "We believe this technology will be an excellent fit for Garmin and will enable us to better serve our marine customers by expanding our product offerings."

"My colleagues and I are very excited to be joining Garmin," said Doug Ford, formerly chief operating officer of Nautamatic, who has joined Garmin following the acquisition. "Garmin shares our vision and our focus on innovation, engineering excellence and customer service. We look forward to integrating our industry-leading marine autopilot technology into Garmin's already impressive range of innovative marine products."

This acquisition will enable Garmin to develop additional capabilities for the state-of-the-art Garmin Marine Network, which already combines features like GPS, sonar, radar, XM WX Satellite Weather, 3D "mariner's eye" topside view or "fish eye" underwater navigation perspective, auto guidance, and an intuitive touchscreen interface for unparalleled situational awareness and ease of use.

Garmin is also pleased to announce the promotion of John Neyland to senior manager of marine marketing and OEM sales. John has had extensive experience in the marine industry including his recent position as a regional marine sales manager for Garmin. Previously he ran his own business for several years as a marine installer where he gained extensive experience with radars, sounders, autopilots and other marine products. John will oversee the integration of the Nautamatic sales team with the Garmin sales team. He will also develop future programs to expand Garmin's presence in the marine OEM and NMEA install-based market. With the addition of an autopilot line and Garmin's recent introduction of a revolutionary new marine product line up, including the addition of an expanded line of radars, Garmin is looking to expand its marine market - Garmin International.