A 180° turnaround: Brunton’s Compass manufacturing relocated to Riverton from China

Riveton Mayor Ron Warpness addressed Brunton CEO John Smithbaker, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Brigadier General Luke Reiner at Wednesday morning's event at the Brunton headquarters.

Story and photos by Ernie Over, Managing Editor, County10.com

(Riverton) — Riverton-based Brunton Outdoor Group formally announced Wednesday the return of its baseplate compass manufacturing from China. Hailing its new “Built Right, Right Here in Wyoming” campaign, the announcement was made in front of cheering employees, Governor Matt Mead, Wyoming National Guard Brigadier General Luke Reiner and a host of local and state dignitaries at the company’s manufacturing facility in the Central Wyoming College Business Park.

The return of the compass line to Riverton makes Brunton the only U.S .compass manufacturer.

“This is truly a Wyoming success story,” Governor Mead said. “This is a firm that has grown over the years, kept up with the times and technology and followed three keys to business success: Product diversity, steady growth and job creation,” he said. “Brunton has shown that it can operate a business in Wyoming that has a global reach. They are providing more jobs for Riverton and boosting the economy here. This is a great day for the state of Wyoming.”

The artwork on Brunton's shipping boxes, which are sent around the world

The Governor said he plans to leverage what Brunton has demonstrated in Riverton to other businesses considering expansion in the state, or relocation here. “You have shown what can be done with the right leadership,” Mead said. “Compasses symbolize Brunton because a compass provides direction and a path to the future.”

General Reiner praised the Brunton compass, noting that Brunton has been supplying the military with it’s compasses for decades. “When you go to war, you are only as good as the equipment you have, and the compass used by the U.S. Military is a Brunton Compass,” he said, to cheers from the audience.

One of the morning’s best lines was delivered by Mayor Ron Warpness of Riverton who, when holding up a gift compass presented to him, said: “I’ve been told that I need direction and now I’ve got a compass!” Warpness presented Brunton CEO John Smithbaker with a proclamation naming March 14th as Brunton Day in Riverton, to honor the occasion.

Smithbaker said Brunton sends is product around the globe, to 45 different countries. “I want to acknowledge our employees who give it their all every day,” he said. “Our people put their heart and soul into these products and I’m proud that every one goes out with a Wyoming flag on it with our slogan, “Built Right, Built Right Here in Wyoming.”

Rob Wright, owner of Legacy Molding in Riverton, pointed out the 80-99 compass which Legacy supplied the base and azimuth ring, drive ring, cover, cover sight and rubber boot for.

Also attending Wednesday’s celebration was Rob Wright, owner of Riverton’s Legacy Molding, which supplies components for the Brunton compasses. “We’ve had a bump in our sales since the compass manufacturing came back here,” Wright said. “last year we provided about 50,000 parts for them, but this year we’ve already supplied about 130,000 parts. We’ve already had more work in the last two months from them then we did all of last year thanks to the line coming back here from China. It’s meaned more jobs for us.”

In a statement released today, the company said a new line of compasses being introduced into the marketplace contains patented Orbital Sighting System technology. “Master crafted by the machinists and minds at Brunton’s world headquarters in Riverton, and tested in the mountains and high plains that surround us, the Brunton OSS line of compasses are precision navigation, simpli?ed. That rugged design is now mirrored by the rugged individuals that make them.”

(click on images to enlarge)

Robinn Chavez operated a stamp machine cutting out the base for compasses.











Kyle Bawdon assembled "geos" at his station in Brunton's manufacturing facility.











Jared Romero at his station in packaging prior to shipping.










Joy Tutor, foreground, and Mary Smalley, at a compass welding station.











Bonnie Hinkle and Doris Kellogg installing mirrors in a compass assembly.













Sharon Umscheid, left, and Patty Brogdon in the "vial" room where the compass is filled with mineral spirits and then sealed.











Alice Limberg's job is ensuring that the needle on each compass is verified for true north and south.













Brunton's longest serving employee, Betty Wiedeman, has been assembling transits at Brunton for 33 years. "There are 60 parts that go into this transit," she said.