Stihl Inc. announced that Peter Mueller, the executive vice president of operations who led the start-up of the manufacturing operations for Stihl in the U.S. in 1974 and has overseen all operational aspects for the company since, will transition to a consultant role after he retires in October. Mueller will step down from his current position July 1 after 38 years with Stihl, 30 of which have included tenure on the Stihl Executive Council.

Under his guidance, the company evolved from an assembly operation to a vertically integrated manufacturing facility, producing the majority of Stihl products for the world market today. Mueller also created a culture where employees embrace automation rather than fear it, thus helping the company effectively compete worldwide. In his nearly four decades of service, Mueller led Stihl Inc. in manufacturing nearly 50 million units, achieving Free Trade Zone status, and winning numerous quality awards. Stihl also became the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America during his tenure.*

“Four decades of service to a company is a rare enough thing in today’s business environment, but to have led Stihl Inc. from a new operation in the U.S. to the top producing facility in the Stihl Group is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Fred Whyte, president of Stihl Inc. “The processes Peter implemented have been instrumental in ensuring the Stihl reputation for quality and dependability and will continue his legacy to the company for years to come.”

During Mueller’s career, Stihl Inc. also achieved ISO 9001 and 14001 registrations, received the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality 1999 Medallion of Excellence Award and was a stage two finalist for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2001. Stihl Inc. was declared winner of the Virginia Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing in 2004, and for each of the last three years, Stihl Inc. has been recognized with the highest quality awards within the Stihl Group.

“Having the opportunity to build the U.S. operations for Stihl from the ground up was a dream come true for me as a young engineer,” said Mueller, who will assume a consultative role to Stihl Inc. “The strong Stihl culture and commitment to excellence have been a true pleasure to be a part of for so many years, and will continue to guide the company’s growth.”

Mueller was named Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in September 2005 and will continue in that position even after retirement from Stihl Inc. As Honorary Consul, Mueller is involved in the diplomatic, political and economic aspect of Germany’s representation in the U.S. as well as helping German citizens in Virginia with their questions or problems, when they need assistance.

Mueller started his career with Stihl Inc. when its doors first opened in Virginia Beach in 1974, as manager of production. He became the director of manufacturing in 1976 and in 1978 was promoted to vice president of manufacturing and also became a member of the Executive Council. Mueller was promoted to his current position in 1992 and was responsible for directing U.S. activities in the areas of manufacturing, engineering, materials/procurement, logistics, buildings, maintenance and quality assurance.

Prior to joining Stihl, he worked as assistant to the chairman of the board of a major German corporation, where he held various management positions in the production and quality assurance areas. Mueller received his engineering degree in Munich, Germany.

Mueller has served on the boards of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (HREDA) and the Virginia Opera, and is a member of the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI), the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) and the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA).