Supporting Your Product Throughout Its Life Cycle: Garmin USA



Business Challenges

Garmin USA—recognized for its innovation of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology—maintains a diverse line of nautical autopilot devices. Serving numerous maritime industries, Garmin’s customers depend on them for continued product support.

Garmin subsequently relies on its partners for the same level of service. Fortunately, ControlTek is one of their partners and had provided key components to the Nautamatic™ line for well over a decade.

Suppliers of other components were not as prepared to continue supporting Garmin over the long haul. As the inevitable evolution into a lower volume legacy product occurred, required components became increasingly scarce. One crucial part eventually proved unavailable.

Customer demand did not relent as Garmin’s existing inventory dwindled. Garmin could not afford to miss or delay deliveries to customers as that would endanger future orders of more than just Nautamatic products.

Faced with immediate need for a new circuit board to support a re-designed component, Garmin turned to ControlTek for help with new design requirements, rapid prototyping, production support, and supply chain management.


ControlTek had partnered with Garmin for many years, establishing the trust necessary to take on a complex challenge under a tight deadline. Existing orders had to be filled, but not at the expense of the product’s long-term viability.

ControlTek quickly rallied resources then collaborated with Garmin personnel to:

  • Refine design requirements to ensure cost effective full product life cycle;
  • During prototyping, discover ways to reduce cost drivers and maintain the product’s long term viability for price sensitive customers;
  • Propose ControlTek produce custom parts where necessary to minimize dependence on external suppliers; and
  • Identify ways for Garmin to leverage ControlTek inventory, further reducing costs and protecting against future component shortages.

Refining Design Requirements

ControlTek worked with Garmin to optimize the design, focusing on use of inexpensive, readily available components that didn’t compromise quality or functionality. As part of this effort, ControlTek committed to a long-term collaboration aimed at reducing costs and improving quality of the product.

Build a Prototype To Inspire Confidence

Garmin needed the prototype phase to be fast and as inexpensive as possible. The process also had to accurately predict the new design’s manufacturability. ControlTek went deep into its toolbox of capabilities by addressing potential long-term issues before manufacturing the prototype. The resulting prototype provided Garmin with the confidence to proceed to production of the newly designed product.

Custom Components and Virtual Inventory Reduce Risk

Long-term product viability was a priority from the outset. Garmin did not want to find itself back in the same boat with respect to component cost and availability. ControlTek used custom components built from its own reliable inventory. Garmin’s risk was further reduced by ControlTek’s ability to make high volume ‘minimum buys’ for key components, carrying the inventory on Garmin’s behalf.


By working closely together, ControlTek helped Garmin meet short-term requirements while concurrently placing the Nautamatic on a path of long-term viability. The re-design, prototyping, production, and materials management efforts were conducted with maximum speed and efficiency.

Building Tomorrow’s Product Without Sacrificing Today’s Profit

Speed and efficiency were crucial because the re-development of the product had to make back the cost of re-design as quickly as possible.

ControlTek was part of the product line from the beginning, playing a crucial part in its sustained viability.