Written By: Jiakai Chang (Outside Business Journal)
A Wyoming-based pair of inventors and former educators has acquired Brunton, one of the state’s oldest brands. The 127-year-old compass maker, which had most recently been a subsidiary of Sweden-based Fenix, yesterday announced the change in ownership. The new owners, Lauren and David Heerschap of Lander, Wyoming, had been educators in geoscience before becoming employees at Brunton in 2014. They initially partnered with the company to manufacture their invention, the Axis Transit, a popular measuring device among geologists for making precise calculations.
Lauren Heerschap will take the role of CEO and majority owner. She had been Brunton’s professional and international sales manager since January of 2021. “It’s still surreal,” she told Outside Business Journal. “It’s always been in the back of our minds, but we never imagined this opportunity would become real for us.”
The change will move Brunton’s headquarters back to Riverton, Wyoming, after spending years at Fenix’s North American headquarters in Colorado. “We really value being local to Wyoming,” Heerschap said. “There’s a lot of pride in being a local company. It’ll be nice to put the Brunton name back up on the front of a Riverton building.” The move will also open up at least five new jobs, mostly in the company’s C-suite, to be filled in the Riverton headquarters.
Returning to Brunton’s Core
Along with the company’s physical return, the Heerschaps hope to also bring Brunton back to its core product’s values. “First and foremost, we’re focused on making quality products, working with integrity and respect for people and the outdoor environment,” Heerschap said.
The Brunton name is ubiquitous globally as a historic provider of navigational and measurement tools to outdoor professionals, especially geologists but also in other outdoor industries like forestry, guiding, and search-and-rescue. In various points in its history, however, Brunton has produced stoves, lights, power solutions, binoculars, and other products. Under the Heerschaps, the company won’t pursue such varied offerings, instead electing to refine and improve a smaller list of core navigational and measurement products.
That being said, they are not against further innovation. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent outdoor boom, they’ve also seen a rise in recreational interest in Brunton products. “Our name is so well-known for our professional products, but I think the door is open for good quality recreational compasses for people who want them,” Heerschap said. Though she wasn’t able to disclose exactly what products were in the works, she hinted at a few new tools in the pipeline, along with a willingness to adopt new innovations to the current line of Brunton products. “We want to make the best compasses in the world,” she said plainly.
With the advent of many digital apps for navigation, it may be hard to see where a century-old compass maker fits into the modern world. Heerschap is optimistic. “We’ve seen a really strong demand for compasses. We truly believe that, regardless of where technology is taking us, there will always be a use for the understanding it brings to use a compass.”