Gary Burrell, co-founder of Garmin, dies at 81

Kevin Hardy, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Business News

Gary Burrell, co-founder of Garmin, died Wednesday at the age of 81, the Olathe-based company announced Thursday.

Burrell, together with engineer Min Kao, formed the company in 1989 to build products enabled by the then-emerging technology of Global Positioning System, or GPS. Burrell retired in 2002 and continued to serve as Garmin's co-chairman until 2004, when he was named chairman emeritus.

Over the years, Garmin grew from a small startup to a global company with more than 13,000 employees in 60 locations across the globe.

"Gary Burrell has been my friend, mentor and partner for more than 30 years," Kao said in a news release Thursday. "His vision, values, engineering skills and commitment to serving our customers have been the foundation for the growth of our company. It has been both a great privilege and a blessing to have known this amazing man and I know his legacy will live on."

Before launching Garmin, Burrell worked at several marine and aviation electronics companies including Lowrance Electronics, King Radio Corporation and AlliedSignal. He earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Wichita State University and a master's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Cliff Pemble, Garmin's current president and CEO, was among Burrell's first hires.


"Whether it was about creating the best product or his behavior as a leader, Gary always considered the impact to others before himself," Pemble said in the news release. "His example not only inspired my contribution to Garmin, it also positively influenced me as a husband and father. I am forever grateful for the rich and enduring legacy of Gary Burrell."

Burrell long held a spot on Forbes' list of richest Americans and was reportedly Garmin's second-largest shareholder.

(c)2019 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Social Connections


The Pajama Diaries David M. Hitch A.F. Branco Jeff Danziger Tim Campbell Steve Breen