Polaris Industries buys Primordial Inc., a St. Paul software company

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2013 - 8:16 PM

Military navigation software will be used on Poraris ATVs.

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Dec. 14, 2006: Randy Milbert, is president of Primordial, a small St. Paul business that is using Pentagon grants to develop a software-based combat vision system for soldiers. The system displays tactical information on a helmet-mounted display to guide them around the battlefield.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Polaris Industries, which makes civilian and military ATVs, has acquired a military navigation software company.

By purchasing St. Paul-based Primordial Inc., Medina-based Polaris gains roughly $2 million in annual revenue and navigation software that is already used by the Army.

The software is expected to jazz up Polaris’ current offerings, which include navigational “RiderX” GPS apps used by Polaris’ ATV, motorcycle and snowmobile customers, Polaris spokeswoman Marlys Knutson said Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Primordial, which has 11 employees, is expected to fit well with Polaris’ military business. Polaris already makes lightweight military ATVs with airless pneumatic tires that can’t go flat. The military ATVs have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Polaris sells its military vehicles to the Department of Defense as well as to Israel, Canada, Germany, Norway, Singapore and other allies.

While Polaris is best known for its rugged vehicles and hardware, this new deal broadens its software capability.

Going forward, Primordial “is a small niche deal that just fits with what we are doing in the military,” Knutson said. It will take some time, but Primordial’s GPS technology will eventually morph into new products aimed at civilian and recreational vehicles, she said.

Primordial founder Randy Milbert and his 10 employees will all join Polaris but will remain housed in Primordial’s St. Paul headquarters in Bandana Square, officials said.

While the acquisition is small, Knutson noted that Polaris CEO Scott Wine “is excited about it.”

During a recent meeting with Wall Street analysts, Wine noted that Polaris has held its own with several significant military contracts so far this year. However, it is starting to see a decrease in projected U.S. military orders as a result of congressional budget cuts. Wine has said he aims to expand international sales.

Military products represent a small but growing part of Polaris’ $3.2 billion in annual sales.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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