Garmin Purchases Tri-Tronics: Dog Trainers Seek Answers

It was announced this week that the GPS giant Garmin bought the small yet popular e-collar company Tri-Tronics. The seemingly innocuous event has sent shockwaves through the dog world and beyond.

Speculation and fear of the unknown is growing on some field-dog training message boards, and some loyal Tri-Tronics users are forecasting the doom of an industry leader.

There are two questions everyone interested in the topic seems to be asking: What would Garmin want with Tri-Tronics? And why would Tri-Tronics sell?

It's pretty simple from where I sit: Garmin invested a lot of time, money and effort into multiple generations of the Astro GPS collar. Along came SportDOG's new TEK collars, which combined GPS functionality and an e-collar into one unit, and Garmin's short-lived GPS-collar monopoly was over. They've been upstaged by a 2-in-1 collar available at a similar or lower price point (although without exactly the same functionality). The acquisition of Tri-Tronics gives Garmin all the e-collar knowledge of an industry leader with a strong and loyal following, as well as a foothold into the profitable general pet business.

From the dog-training side of things, everyone is wondering why Tri-Tronics would sell out to the global entity. After all, Tri-Tronics is a small but solid company. They don't believe in carrying debt, their customer service is excellent and their products are some of the best, if not the best, on the market (I know of several trainers on pro staffs with other collar companies that use Tri-Tronics on a day-to-day basis because of the consistent, reliable manner in which the collars function).

While field-dog trainers are lamenting the downfall of the company, changes to customer service and product reliability top the lists of concerns. Only time will tell how the company will transform. In the immediate and foreseeable future, however, the acquisition by Garmin gives the small company the backing of a global player. That means immediate access to better engineering, capital, marketing, production and increased product ideas and offerings. It should also be noted that Garmin has a huge presence in Kansas, including customer service.