Exclusive Interview with Steve Moore from Garrett Metal Detectors

Exclusive Interview with Steve Moore from Garrett Metal Detectors

Steve Moore has been working with Garrett Electronics for years. He has a solid background in sales, marketing, advertising agency management, catalog print production, photography, video and web development, and Steve is actually a metal detecting enthusiast himself.

What’s in This Interview

  • What’s Steve Moore’s secret to staying passionate about his job?
  • What new products were developed by Garrett during the pandemic?
  • What makes Steve happy about the new Apex detector performance?
  • Can we expect updatable software in Garrett machines?
  • Can we expect a new multi frequency detector in AT series?
  • What’s the future of the GTI series?
  • Can we expect the update of Sea Hunter Mark II?
  • What are Garrett’s plans on patents and technologies recently acquired from the Whites?
  • How does Steve see the development of the hobby metal detecting niche in the nearest few years?

Steve was very kind to help us make sure that the award by Detect History that Garrett has won in 2020 was delivered safe and undamaged. Our conversation started with discussing the award to Garrett Ace Apex.

Vaughan Garrett with the Detect History award
By the end of 2020, Garrett Ace Apex has been awarded by Detect History as the best new metal detector of the year. Vaughan Garrett holds the Detect History award.

Michael: Firstly, I’d like to say thank you for helping with the award delivery, and for the Vaughan Garrett photo with it. That’s so cool, I was so excited!

Steve Moore: Thank you! We were glad to get the best metal detector 2020 award, and now it is placed on the shelf in our office.

Detect History Awards Garrett ACE Apex

Michael: Nice to know! I’ve got a small list of questions that are the most interesting for the Detect History readers and for me. So, let’s start.

(If you only have so much time for getting only the most important points, you can scroll down to check out the synopsis. But mind yourself that you’re risking to miss out all the curious details!)

* * *

First of all, let’s talk a little bit about you and your career at Garrett Metal Detectors. Could you please tell us more about yourself?

Sure, my name is Steve Moore, I am Director of Marketing at Garrett Metal Detectors. I’ve been working with Garrett for over 15 years. I cover all niches that the company covers – security metal detectors, sport metal detectors, countermine and thermal divisions. My job includes marketing, company representation on various events, media relations, and customer relations.

Can you share your secret on how to keep being passionate about your job working long years for the same company?

It’s simple! You need to love what you do. This is the point. I love everything I do for the job. I also love getting out with a metal detector, hiking through the field, relaxing, and finding interesting items.

Steve Moore

I’ve heard that you enjoy metal detecting. It’s cool to know you actually use products your company makes. This is not a frequent case, in fact. Let’s talk about Garrett, shall we?

Garrett Metal Detectors is a global leader in the metal detecting industry, a leading manufacturer among other metal detector manufacturers worldwide. It was founded by Eleanor and Charles Garrett in 1964, and since that time, it became not only a United States success, but an international and global success. And today, our products are in more than 200 countries across the world; security products, and the hobby products that, you know, your followers are so familiar with. And you know, we have machines for scuba diving up to 200 feet deep. We have shallow submersible detectors that go as deep as 10 to 12 feet. And then of course, all the different land detectors, whether you’re looking for relics, or coins, or gold nuggets that the prospectors look for. We have detectors specifically suited for all those different types of challenges and all the different types of terrains that come with those challenges.

Yeah, and then you also have the Security Division. And, as I found out earlier, you now have the thermal detector, too…

Yes, we have as part of our Security Division, a thermal division that’s relatively new, since all the COVID pandemic come out. And we have a device that’s called SmartScan. And it works in conjunction with our walk-through metal detectors, so that you can simultaneously screen patrons or customers, not only for weapons with the metal detection part of the detector, but it also does a thermal reading of their body temperature. So if they’re abnormally high, it makes an alarm. And those individuals need to be checked and pulled aside to make sure they don’t enter a school, or a courthouse, or a stadium. So that’s obviously a global concern that’s really come to the forefront. So that’s one of our more recent initiatives that we’ve been working on in recent months.

Yeah, I was happy to see that, because this is a real need today. It’s really useful technology during times of the pandemic. I wish Garrett luck with that new initiative.

Certainly, it’s gotten a lot of attention and a lot of interest with a lot of different people. So I’m certain as you know, this Covid issue is not over with yet. So the SmartScan will continue to have a great deal of interest with people and even beyond the pandemic, it’s a good source of a wellness check, in addition to the security screening that goes forward.

Yeah, I totally agree with you. And let’s talk about the challenges during the pandemic, shall we? Can you tell us whether there were any difficulties the company had to face last year? How were the problems solved?

Yeah, when the pandemic really started taking hold of America was probably in March of 2020. And that’s when in our local county here in the Dallas area, had a lot of businesses shut down, and a lot of new procedures put in place. And so for a couple of weeks there, you know, Garrett had to really almost run just a skeleton crew of people to come in and get orders shipped. But then we had to adhere to the new county regulations with screens and curtains between workstations and people, you know, wearing masks and cleaning their hands frequently, and all the other procedures, temperature checks and logging in your health. So we have a lot of new procedures in place to continue. We did that successfully. We’ve continued all through last year to maintain production and to ship but, you know, obviously, there were a lot of challenges. And, you know, things were a little slower at certain weeks than we would have liked. But all things considered, we came out feeling pretty blessed that we got through the year. It’s certainly not over; we continue to have a lot of strict procedures for people that work in the building here. Some of us did work off site for a number of months. And those of us that could work on laptops and computers at home did that and those that came in were under a strict protocol, but we are for the most part are, everybody working back in the factory, in the facility now, just under careful procedures and protocols.

Now the situation with that pandemic becomes better in the United States?

Yet, it’s still a big challenge right now. I know in some of the European countries, and in England, I’m looking at what’s going on there. It’s still very tough there. It’s still pretty bad in America right now, too. And so we’re not through it. I mean, I know the vaccines are going out and that gives us optimism. But we’re certainly not through the worst of it yet. It doesn’t look like this.

It’s sad to hear that. I can tell you about the situation in my country. It’s not really positive as for today, but the number of people getting infected with COVID not growing anymore. I hope in the United States, the situation will improve this year.

Yeah, thank you. We have so too, I mean, there’s some optimism of what’s you know, get out there with the medical teams and their vaccines. But I think we’ve still got a few more weeks here before we see if we’re, you know, over the hump and getting toward the better stages, but we’ve got to remain positive, keep pushing forward and just try to be safe in the meantime, you know?

Okay, can you underline any special moments in 2020, for Garrett Metal Detectors company, you feel satisfied with?

In 2020, the most significant thing we’re excited about was the launch of the new Apex metal detector, with its new Viper coil. That had a tremendous following. And, you know, because of all the COVID protocol, we ended up, instead of having a launch with our dealers and distributors, we did a global virtual launch. And we had tens and tens of thousands of people attend that. And it went over very well, to the degree that, we might do it again, somewhere down the road, because not only the dealers and distributors of our gear got to see this exciting new product, but all of our fans and customers got to see it, and ask questions, virtually; post their texts and questions to us. I think everybody appreciated that. So that went well. And we, you know, got them built as fast as we could to get the orders out. And, people are now using a good number of those Apex machines out there and making a lot of great discoveries. And, you know, now we’re working on some accessory coils to go with the Apex. And the ones I’ve been testing are tremendous. So, you know, we’ll continue to build on the Apex and add more things to it as we go forward.

Yes, that’s great. Last summer, I was talking about that with authorized Garrett dealers, and all of them notified me that there was so much interest in Apex, and that he has lots of machines to sell.

It’s just a different look and feel for a Garrett detector. And again, we listen to the customers a lot to see what they want. And so there was a lot of talk about a different control box, a different rechargeable system, and all these other features of simultaneous multi-frequency and selectable frequencies. So I was very happy that we actually stopped, and did that, and engineered the product based on those desires. And it’s great. I mean, I’ve used it a lot and made a lot of great finds with it. Silver coins, old relics, and a lot of jewelry. Probably found fourteen or fifteen rings with it last year. So I’m very pleased with the Apex.

Yes, that’s a really great result. And for many of us, Apex was one of the coolest events in 2020. Are you happy with the results Apex shows, in general?

Yeah, obviously very happy with the results of Apex as far as the excitement from the customers out there and the people that were using it. And the stories we’re getting in our favorite find submissions, you know, people submit every month to Garrett, like, “I found this I found that”. They have, you know, jewelry and coins, and all kinds of cool relic finds. And then, you know, Vaughan Garrett picks a winner, or actually a U.S. and an international winner, each month. And we’re seeing more and more Apex discoveries come in. So that tells me people are out there using the machine, and enjoying it, and having success with it. So I think it’ll continue to be in our lineup for quite some time.

Steve Moore with Garrett Ace Apex

That’s very likely, because I have managed to get Apex and used it for a few days after the very first releases. It was hard to buy it after the early release, so I borrowed it from a friend. And I was really impressed with this metal detector. As for me, the main feature is that I can either only one frequency of all, or all frequencies together in a multi frequency mode. So this is a really nice metal detector.

Yeah, absolutely. And one of the other features is of course having the multi-frequency mode, which is good for all kinds of targets, large, small, different conductivities. Moreover, it helps to overcome some of the bad ground that you might encounter. Also, the multi-frequency salt mode, I was really impressed with that, because I’ve used, you know, our detectors, other detectors, over the years at the beach. And I go to the salt water beaches, at least once or twice a year. And when I went down there last year to test this machine, and switched it into the salt mode, I almost wondered if it was even turned on, it was so quiet. When I got down that edge of the salt water where detectors, especially VLF detectors, tend to get very chattery – Apex was very quiet. And I was able to find coins and jewelry with it. So that’s been a pleasant surprise for a lot of people about how well those multi frequency modes have worked on the Apex.

Yes, the multifrequency was the most recent trend over the last year for the metal detectors, together with rechargeable batteries, updatable software, and some other features. Actually, many people ask why doesn’t Apex have updatable software? Because it’s a real trend in metal detecting, as for today. Can you comment on that?

Yeah, that’s a good question. And that is certainly in the plans. We’re working toward doing that. I don’t have a timeframe. But I agree with you that would be ideal that you could plug it in and do a USB update on features or software or, you know, any kind of electronic upgrades. So our engineers are looking into that now, because we’ve had that question from a number of people. So yeah, I’d say stay tuned on that. We’ll have an update at some point on when that’s available. But good question.

The point is that I know about the cases with updatable software. This seems to be a really nice feature for the customers. So, people talk about this, and many Garrett fans also want to know whether they will be able to get this feature.

Yeah, obviously it’s a great feature. And I know some other folks do that. And we need to get in on that program too. So we’re working toward that. I just say, give us a little bit of time, and we’ll get all that lined up. But it’s just kind of where things are going with electronics that have a lot of different types of features.

So we can expect those features in your products in the nearest future, yes?

Yeah, we’re definitely working toward that.

Okay, now the most popular question! Should Garrett fans expect a new multi frequency metal detector with Multi-Flex technology in the AT series this year?

We are evaluating a lot of different things. We’re working on our security division. We’re working on our thermal division and we also work on our sport slash hobby division. So we’ve got you know, regular planning meetings and engineering projects in the works. And we will certainly continue to introduce new metal detectors on all fronts. And yeah, we’ve certainly heard from a lot of people that they would love to have a submersible multi frequency machine and so we’re certainly listening to that. There’s several machines we need to work on, and bringing out some exciting new updates as we go forward. So I don’t have a timeframe for you today, when that will be or what the next machine will be. But you know, rest assured we are working on new stuff. And when we’re ready to announce, it will certainly set up something, you know, probably a virtual event even, and let people know what’s coming next. So I’d say, hang in there. And we’ll let you know when we’re ready to make some exciting new announcements.

Got it, thank you for the reply. Because a lot of people want something like Apex, but waterproof. So a lot of people are asking about this.

I think that that’s a tremendous idea. I think that’s a great idea. So we will certainly be looking into that.

And actually, because Apex has two new additional coils, many people believe making a waterproof Apex metal detector would mean they wouldn’t need additional coils to buy. That’s the idea.

Yeah, as far as search coils, we’re working on some new coils too. So that takes a little time to get all those right. But we have recently introduced a 5×8” Ripper that we use for the Apex series, a smaller size for iron infested areas, and home sites, and tight search areas. And we’ve also introduced the 8.5×11” Raider DD coil, which gives you better depth and deeper Target ID and more coverage as you’re sweeping through large fields and broad areas. So those are nice new additions to the Apex series. And we will before too long be introducing that really popular type and size coils into some of our other existing detector lineups. I’ve been testing some of those. And I’m really impressed with the performance there. So we’ll be making announcements along those lines. And as we go down the year, maybe some other coils that we talked about before too long, too.

Oh, and if we’re talking about detectors and future plans, I want to ask you a few questions about an old series of Garrett metal detectors. Garrett has a series of old metal detectors called GTI. The last model of the GTI series, GTI 2500, was released back in 1999. But does Garrett have any plans on reviving this series?

Yeah, the GTI 2500 still continues to sell very well, you know, the features are really cool on that, as well as being able to toggle between All Metal Mode back to the latest Discrim mode, as well as put on a two box, deep seeker apparatus on there. So it’s got a lot of cool, unique features. Yes, it has been around for a while. And we do need to upgrade and replace and, you know, improve on that. So I think you can kind of see a little bit of vision with the Apex line where we’re going, but certainly a high end flagship type detector is on that list of things I mentioned, you know, not just one or two things we need to do. But we’ve got several upgrades and improvements we need to do going forward. You know, don’t have a specific timeline to give you all that stuff. But you know, the GTI is still a terrific machine. But yeah, it needs some updating, and some modernization or an overhaul, you know, whichever way we decide to go with it. So, a good question. And we will certainly look for a high end machine down the road at some point to push to the front and several different categories there.

So, we may suggest that at some point in the future – yes, but no particular plans about when, exactly. Okay.

It’s hard to tell about plans and things like that, and timelines, it’s done when we’re ready, and things are in good shape. But I’d say just, you know, follow Garrett on social media, follow us on our website, and we’ll certainly keep all of our customers up to speed on any new exciting releases as those times come around.

The point is, there were rumors about the “new GTI 3500” in the last few years. In this case, the same question is about Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II – is the company still interested in the underwater metal detecting segment? Do you have plans on updating this machine?

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I give you the same stock answer across the board for all this stuff. And we can run through each one. But the Sea Hunter is still a very viable machine, it still sells very well every year. But obviously, it’s got a few years on it as well. So that’s something else we should look into upgrading, you know, when we have the time to do that. And there’s obviously a lot of interest in underwater detection. I think our AT Pro, when it came out, really got more people interested in both salt and freshwater searching to shallow depths. The Sea Hunter obviously gives you the ability to scuba dive into greater depths and look for different kinds of treasures. So that’s always going to be something we’re interested in, you know, Charles Garrett, and one of our companions, Sir Robert Marx, two famous treasure divers, they worked together on the Sea Hunter and really made a great machine out of that. But you know, what was great when it came out, doesn’t mean to remain perfect forever. So yeah, everything needs to be looked at, refreshed, and overhauled. And that’s certainly something we should look at again, too, as we go down the road.

And I have to say that the AT Pro and AT Max shows a very nice underwater performance. But if we’re talking about serious underwater metal detecting, the depth up to 10 feet is not much. That’s why people get to ask about the Sea Hunter detector.

Absolutely, there’s two schools of hunters. Probably the majority of people are not going to go deeper than their neck or, you know, eight or 10 or 12 feet, they’re going to have lakes and streams and under the piers and bridges and things like that. But you know, for the guys like me that like scuba diving that want to go to deep depths, that’s a whole different game. And it requires a more robust box, and better seals to withstand the pressures that you go through. You know, once you pass 33 feet to a different atmosphere, there’s substantial increased pressure on all the gaskets, and seals, and connectors. So it takes a different machine for that kind of depth. And, yeah, definitely two different schools, they’re both viable and both exciting.

Alright, the next question then, and this one is about the purchase of Whites electronics.

Sure. Let me give you a couple of thoughts on that. Maybe I’ll just answer all your questions in one wrap up here. You know, Whites Electronics, various rights and trademarks were acquired by Garrett this past year. Unfortunately, Whites decided not to continue due to a variety of reasons, including the difficulties of operating in the pandemic. The principles of the company, you know, Ken Whites senior, and Charles Garrett, they were always competitors back in the old days, and, you know, pretty much friendly competitors. There was a market and things to sell to different customers, and they respected each other, and they communicated at times.

But when the company decided it was time to close up, the Garrett family and Board of Directors decided it would be good to keep that legacy as an American company made in the USA, and we acquired various rights to what they had, and their intellectual property and trademarks. We did not acquire their factory and facilities, or production facilities. We can’t be expected to produce all their detectors and keep going with that. And that certainly is just not viable, with all the things we have to build for Garrett.

But we’ll make some choices coming up in the next few months, on which items we might want to continue to put out with the Garrett/Whites name, or Garrett name, or whatever the case might be. That would be familiar to their customers. But in the meantime, we welcome any Whites customers that want to explore Garrett products, and explore working with another American made company. They made their choice and it was a great choice for them. Whites was a good company, a very well respected company. Now, moving forward, we hope to win their customers’ trust and their loyalty with some burger products. And any Whites detectors we choose to move forward with, like anything else, will be announced as we go forward. You know what our plans are with some of those. We’re still sorting through some of the trademarks and patents and mergers, acquisition and things. So, again on that one, kinda stay tuned, we’ll let you know what shakes out there.

Yeah, this was the next question about the patents, and about Garrett now owning the Whites technologies and rights, or no? As far as I see, some Whites detectors might live on.

Kind of like I just addressed a second ago, we’ll kind of make announcements as we go forward on any Whites detector, which will be used to move forward with production. There are some challenges getting everything up to speed and working with their previous vendors and things like that. So we’re sorting through all that. But no, we will not continue building all of their products for sure. But you know, some of them, we’ll see which ones we choose to move forward with. But we’ll evaluate other machines and see if there are technologies or features in there that we want to bring into our own products. We will keep customers informed as we go forward on that.

Good luck to you then, because Whites was a great company with great history – as is Garrett – and it’s good to know that their legacy will live on, even if there are some issues.

Today, the metal detectors industry grows so fast. During the last few years, many new brands appeared. Do you think the metal detector hobby niche has more products that the customers demand? Or does it still have some room to grow?

Yeah, that’s a good question. I think, you know, it’s a healthy industry out there. It’s certainly grown a lot. You know, in the past 15-plus years I’ve been here, I’ve seen a lot of growth all the way across the board, not just with our gear, but with other brands. And as you mentioned, there’s some brands that have come on in the past 15 years that weren’t there before. I’ve seen some other brands, and you can probably name the names, that have gone away during that time. Whites is just one of them. I guess, as they say, the strong survive. And there’s a handful of strong companies, you know, Garrett is certainly up there at the top with strong companies.

And we’ve been here for a long time. We’ll be in our 60th anniversary year before too long. We’re 57 now. So I think we’re positioned to keep going forward. You know, we need to keep innovating and making new things. But yeah, there’s plenty of room for friendly competition. We keep track of what’s out there. And we find out what customers like. I’ve run many different detectors by many different companies. And a lot of companies make really good machines, you know, I will not knock them for what they do.

They compete, we compete, it’s friendly. When we attend the big rallies and the hunts, we hang out with people that run all kinds of brands. And we’re all friends. We’re all out there to have a good time. You know, the hope is over time they look at our pinpointer, or look at one of our detectors, and give it a try. And you probably know most people don’t have just one detector that have been doing this for 10 years. They probably have three, or four, or five, or eight different detectors in their closet. So they try out different stuff based on where they hunt and what they like. So I think there’s plenty of room for everybody, and there’s still room for continued growth as we go forward.

And finally, Steve, would you like to say something to the Garrett fans and all Detect History readers?

You know, yeah, I’d love to, for all the Garrett fans and customers out there, I’d love to say Happy New Year, and pass along my best wishes for 2021. At this point, we’re still hopeful that we can have our Charles Garrett Memorial Hunt in April of this year. But we’ll do so carefully under all the restrictions that are in place, if we’re able to. I’m hopeful and optimistic that other rallies and hunts this fall will be able to happen.

So I wish everybody who can detect, to go out there and have fun, and be safe. If you’re in a country where you can’t go outside right now, let’s just ride this out. Let’s get through it. And let’s hope and pray that, you know, a few months down the road, things are better for the whole world, and for everybody that likes to go out and search for history can do so. Best wishes to everybody out there and best of health! And I hope to see you out in the field before too long.

Thank you again for this conversation, Steve. Good luck to the Garrett company, too, I wish you growth this year, and we all want to see new products by Garrett!

Thanks for taking the time with me, Michael.

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Most Important Points

If you have managed to read the full text of the interview – good for you, now you obviously know all the details about Garrett’s plans and vision.

If you are too busy to read our extensive and in-depth conversation with Steve – no worries, we’ve got your back covered! Here are the main points of the interview:

  • Garrett Metal Detectors company has faced certain issues due to the pandemic and the lockdown, but they have managed to change their production routines in order to continue working, because in 2020, they have actually released their new Apex machine, and lots of work needed to be done
  • Garrett has promptly reacted to the global needs caused by the pandemic, and developed a thermal detector for body temperature screening. Thermal detectors by Garrett are used to prevent people with abnormally high body temperature from entering crowded buildings like airports, courtyards, etc. This way, Garrett has contributed to fighting against the virus
  • the release of Apex metal detector was also one of the best moments for the company in the whole 2020 year. Despite the difficulties caused by lockdowns and new strict antivirus operational rules, the company has managed to organize sales properly, and communicate with fans all over the world via virtual online release events. Steve has underlined that he was very happy with results showed by Apex
  • Apex is already known as very efficient underwater metal detector, especially in the salt waters, due to its salt water discrimination mode. It is very quiet and allows to hear even the faintest signals, therefore increasing the chances of finding more items underwater
  • Garrett indeed considers adding multi frequency and updatable software to their machines. Hurray!
  • besides, Garrett constantly evaluates the results and performance of various metal detectors on the market, and looks into which ones are to be updated.
  • Garrett has purchased Whites Electronics, but not the whole company and definitely not factory and facilities. They have purchased some patents and technologies, and the company now evaluates which of them could be used for further production. One of Garrett’s reasons for partially buying Whites Electronics was to preserve the heritage of another quality American metal detectors company. However, it is not yet decided whether any of the White’s machines will be rebranded and made by Garrett, or whether the company will use purchased technologies to develop their own brand.
  • despite tight competition on the market, Steve Moore believes that there’s enough room for everyone in the metal detector manufacturing niche, to grow and develop further.

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