Silva compass, or Silva of Sweden, aka Silva Sweden AB is an outdoors products company, most known for their high-grade compasses and other navigational equipment including GPS tools, mapping software, and altimeters for aircraft. They also offer a marine range. The company's founders - Gunnar Tillander, Alvar Kjellström, Alvid Kjellström, and Björn Kjellström - invented the hugely popular orienteering or protractor compass used around the world for outdoors navigation.
Silva Sweden AB is a company created and based in Sweden that exports worldwide, and operates in numerous countries. They have marketing companies in Stockholm, Sweden, Mantes-la-Ville, France, Friedrichsdorf, Germany, and Livingston, Scotland. The aim of Silva Sweden is to "Design, develop, produce and market world-class quality products on a global basis for users within the Land and Marine markets".
Silva Sweden AB created their first compass in 1928, and established their company in 1933.
Below is a Chronological timeline of important dates in the history of Silva Sweden AB:
- 1928 Gunnar Tillander invents the first orienteering (baseplate) compass.
- 1932 The Silva Company is established in December 1932 by Tillander, Alvar Kjellström, Alvid Kjellström, and Björn Kjellström. The company introduces its first baseplate compass with a liquid-damped capsule.
- 1939 Silva Model 1939 mirror-sight, liquid-damped baseplate compass introduced.
- 1946 Björn Kjellström begins U.S. Silva operations as The Silva Company (later Silva, Inc.). Compass assembly factory established in La Porte, Indiana. Silva Orienteering Services established to support the sport of orienteering in North America.
- 1948 Kjellström founds Silva's Canadian distributor operations in Toronto, Canada as Silva Ltd.
- 1900 Silva The Ranger orienteering sighting compass introduced to North America featuring a mirror sighting system and liquid-damped needle.
- 1958 Silva Production AB expands with new plastics manufacturing operations
- 1960 Silva Production AB expands with new tooling and manufacturing operations.
- 1964 Silva Ranger Type 15 deluxe compass introduced with optional adjustable declination, clinometer, and quadrant scale
- 1973 New manufacturing plant, Instrumentverken in Sollentuna. Johnson Wax Associates (JWA) acquires Silva, Inc. (Silva USA).
- 1980 JWA moves its corporate headquarters to Binghamton, New York, closing the Silva USA compass factory in La Porte, Indiana.
- 1981 Silva Production AB launches its first electronic instrument design
- 1981 Acquisition of different lines of sporting goods for Swedish sport market by Silva Production AB.
- 1982 Production of first electronic instruments by Silva Production AB.
- 1985 Johnson Worldwide Associates (JWA) purchases Silva Ltd. of Canada.
- 1984 New Warehouse.
- 1986 Enlargement of Silva Production AB manufacturing plant.
- 1986 New showroom for Silva Group products.
- 1989 Launching of largest investment program ever for The Silva Group. Market - production - research & development.
- 1990 Inauguration new premises Silva France
- 1992 Silva Group launches its first satellite navigator
- 1995 Björn Kjellström dies. The Silva factory in Haninge reinaugurates
- 1996 Silva Production AB acquires Brunton, Inc., resulting in the largest compass manufacturing concern in the USA, and terminates its compass distribution agreement with Silva USA/JWA.
- 1997 JWA (later Johnson Outdoors, Inc.) files suit to retain exclusive rights to the Silva brand name in North America.
- 1998 Pursuant to a settlement agreement with JWA, Silva Production AB of Sweden agrees not to market compasses under the Silva brand in the USA and Canada. Silva of Sweden AB signs agreement with Brunton, Inc. to distribute its original Silva Swedish-made compasses under the Brunton and Nexus labels in North America. In turn, Brunton-designed compasses such as the Brunton 9020, 8040, and Eclipse and sourced from the U.S. and China are labeled with the Silva or Silva Voyager brand for sale in areas outside North America.
- 2000 Silva introduces the Silva Multi-Navigator a combined GPS, electronic compass, and barometric altimeter, sold as the Brunton MNS in North America.
- 2004 Silva opens a production facility in mainland China for production of some Silva compass models.
- 2006 Fiskars AB acquires Silva Production AB Group of Sweden
- 2009 Fiskars sells Brunton Inc. to Fenix Outdoor AB of Sweden. Silva of Sweden stops exporting its compasses and GPS devices to North America under the Nexus and Brunton brands, and halts further imports of Brunton products under the Silva brand.
- 2011 Fiskars sells Silva Sweden AB to Karnell, a Swedish investment firm
North American Trademark Dispute
After the founding of Silva USA in 1946 and Silva Ltd. in Canada two years later, both affiliates were later acquired by Johnson Wax Associates, later Johnson Camping, Inc., and by 1985, Johnson Worldwide Associates (JWA). From 1980, JWA had imported Swedish-made compasses manufactured by Silva Production AB for sale in North America.
In 1996, a decision by Silva Production AB to end sole distribution of its Swedish-made Silva-brand compasses by Silva USA led to a court battle the following year between JWA and Silva Production AB (Silva Sweden AB).
In 1998, JWA and Silva Production AB of Sweden reached a settlement whereby JWA retained the exclusive right to sell compasses under its Silva trademark in North America, made by unnamed manufacturers. JWA also retained the North American rights to some product names such as Ranger, Polaris, 1, 2, 3 and others commonly used and recognized in the U.S. and Canadian markets and made popular during the time Silva Production AB was manufacturing Swedish-made Silva compasses for JWA in North America. JWA was eventually renamed Johnson Outdoors, Inc.
For its part, Silva Production AB/Silva Group retained the right to manufacture and sell compasses, GPS tools, and other navigational products under its Silva trademark outside the United States and Canada, as well as market its Swedish-made compasses and GPS tools in North America under the Brunton, Elite, and Nexus brands. The Swedish firm also retained the right to state on Nexus packaging and in the Nexus catalog that Nexus compasses were made by Silva Production AB, but did not retain the right to advertise this fact.
In 2009 Fiskars sold Brunton Inc. to Fenix Outdoor AB of Sweden, and in consequence, Silva Production AB stopped exporting Silva of Sweden compasses to North America under the Brunton and Nexus brands, and halted further imports of Brunton products to markets outside North America under the Silva brand. Currently, Silva of Sweden AB no longer distributes any of its compass products to the USA or Canadian markets.
In 2006, Silva was acquired by the Finnish Fiskars Group. Silva Sweden AB retained its own corporate identity as an outdoor products manufacturer within Fiskars under its Gerber Legendary Blades Division.
In 2009, Fiskars sold Brunton Inc. to a Swedish company, Fenix Outdoor AB. After divestiture, Brunton closed out its Nexus and Elite compass lines and discontinued the Brunton 54LU compass, all of which were relabeled Silva of Sweden products, and discontinued imports of the Silva Multi-Navigator GPS sold in North America as the Brunton MNS. These actions left Silva of Sweden without a North American distributor for its Swedish-made compasses and GPS tools. As a result, Silva of Sweden compasses and GPS products are no longer available in North America.
In 2011, Fiskars sold Silva Sweden AB to Karnell AB, a Swedish investment group.
Today, the Silva Group consists of the parent company, now called Silva Sweden AB, together with its subsidiaries Silva Ltd. in the United Kingdom, Silva France, Silva Deutschland, and Silva Far East. The core activities of the Silva Group consist of design, development, manufacture of compasses for land and sea and sales of compasses, GPS and outdoor instruments, headlamps, binoculars and other electronic navigation equipment.
At its production facility in Haninge, Sweden, and in mainland China, Silva of Sweden AB manufactures a wide variety of portable compasses for recreational, hiking, scientific, and marine uses. The company produces a range of models, from simple protractor or baseplate compasses like the Field, Expedition 3 (formerly the Ranger 3), and Expedition 4 to more sophisticated sighting compasses such as the Expedition Model 54 and the Silva SightMaster line of surveying compasses.
Silva's Expedition 15T, Expedition TDCL, and Expedition S are modernized versions of the popular Type 15 Silva Ranger, itself a development of the Model 1939 that incorporated a liquid-damped capsule with a sighting mirror that doubled as a protective cover. In keeping with its origins as orienteering compass manufacturers, Silva also offers its Orienteering Series of Jet, Spectra, and Race models optimized for orienteering and adventure racing competition.
Silva has a long history of supplying variants of their general-use compasses to various military forces of the world, including the defence forces of Great Britain, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. These include the Silva Expedition 3 Military, Expedition 4 Military, Expedition 4B Military, Expedition 15T, Expedition 15TDCL, and Expedition 54 Military NATO compasses with dials in both mils and degrees and optional tritium lighting (all standard models have luminous lighting; models with a 'B' (beta) suffix are fitted with self-illuminating tritium capsules.
In 2000, Silva introduced the Silva Multi-Navigator navigation tool, which combined a GPS receiver with an electronic compass, barometer, and altimeter. The Multi-Navigator was sold in North America under the Brunton brand as the Brunton MNS. The Multi-Navigator was followed in 2004 by the Silva Atlas navigation tool which featured a greyscale map display. Both the Multi-Navigator and the Atlas failed to capture a significant portion of the highly competitive GPS market, and were withdrawn from the market in 2009.
Besides compasses and GPS tools, Silva manufactures several other types of outdoor gear and navigational equipment, including weather/altimeter/temperature/wind meters, headlamps, binoculars, and orienteering accessories.
- Seidman, David, and Cleveland, Paul, The Essential Wilderness Navigator, Ragged Mountain Press (2001), ISBN 0-07-136110-3, p. 68
- Kjellström, Björn, 19th Hole: The Readers Take Over: Orienteering, Sports Illustrated, 3 March 1969
- Seidman, p. 68
- Litsky, Frank, Björn Kjellström, 84, Orienteer and Inventor of Modern Compass, The New York Times - Obituaries, 1 September 1995
- New Products, American Forests Volume 56, No. 6 (June 1950), American Forestry Association, p. 34
- List of Advertisers, Canada Lumberman, Canada Forest Industries Vol. 70, No. 7 (July 1950), p. 92
- Allonen, Heikki, Fiskars Acquires Swedish Silva Group, Stock Exchange Press Release, Fiskars Corporation, 30 June 2006
- Spivak, Cary, Compass Makers Embroiled in Suits, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3 January 1997
- JOUT, Form 10-K SEC Filing, Item 1: Business (Outdoor Equipment), filed by Johnson Outdoors, Inc. on 12/15/2004 Filing: "Silva field compasses, which are manufactured by third parties, are marketed exclusively in North America."
- Hodgson, Michael, JWA, Silva Settle Dispute, Outdoor Retailer, 1 October 1998 Article
- Fiskars Sells US Camping Equipment Business to Fenix Outdoor, Nordic Business Report, 4 December 2009
- Ministry of Defence, Manual of Map Reading and Land Navigation, HMSO Army Code 70947 (1988), ISBN 0-11-772611-7, ISBN 978-0-11-772611-6, ch. 12, sec. 39, p. 4