Stihl Inc. announced June 11 that one of its executives will be retiring this summer.

Long-time Stihl executive set to retire

Stihl Inc. announced June 11 that one of its executives will be retiring this summer. Peter Burton, vice president of sales and marketing for Stihl Inc., will be retiring in July 2012, after 30 years with the Stihl organization. During his tenure at Stihl Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the worldwide Stihl Group, Burton instituted innovative and industry-leading sales and marketing strategies and campaigns, leading the company to record growth and market share gains, as well as recognition of Stihl as the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America.

“In a company as closely knit as ours, it is always hard to say goodbye to someone who has contributed so much and been such an integral part of our success,” said Fred Whyte, president of Stihl Inc. “To say that Peter will be missed is an understatement, but the example that he set during his 30 years with Stihl has set the bar for the next generation of employees and will serve as a foundation for our future success.”

During his tenure with Stihl Inc., Burton initiated and championed several key initiatives that generated unprecedented sales and marketing success for the company. At the core of many of these initiatives is support for the independent servicing dealer, including the “Why?” advertising campaign, the Marketing Advantage Program, the Stihl Concept Store merchandising system, Stihl Dealer Days, Stihl iCademy online training for Stihl dealers, and Independent We Stand cause marketing. These programs are in addition to the successful launches of hundreds of new products and several new technologies.

The “Why?” campaign emphasized to America the fact that Stihl products are not sold in big box stores. The campaign highlighted Stihl dealers — most of which are locally, independently owned — as a core reason for the company’s success thanks to the personal support, product expertise, and the ability to service and maintain the products they sell for customers around the country. In conjunction with that campaign, Burton’s team also introduced the Marketing Advantage Program, which coordinates the marketing efforts of Stihl Inc., its distributors and its network of more than 8,000 independent servicing dealers and significantly raised the visibility of the Stihl brand nationwide, resulting in increased customer traffic to Stihl dealer websites and stores.

For Burton, success is about the basics. “The key essential to success in business, to me, is sustainable quality and teamwork,” said Burton. “As a company, Stihl is fully dedicated to long-term quality in all facets of its operations. What I am most proud of is being able to help build a team of people who share that dedication and to encourage a high level of communication and cooperation among all the members of our unique distribution system.”

Burton, who was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, enjoyed a successful 10-year career as a professional football player in the Australian Football League, winning the equivalent of MVP for his club in 1975. In 1982, he became a partner in a company which distributed Stihl products throughout Western Australia and was appointed branch manager for that operation when Stihl Australia purchased the company in 1985.

In 1995, Burton was offered a position with Stihl Inc. to assist in the startup of a U.S. branch in California, and was promoted to director of marketing at the Stihl Inc. Virginia Beach, Va.-based headquarters one year later.

Burton has held the position of vice president of sales and marketing since May 1997 and has been responsible for sales for the domestic and export markets, sales planning, new product development, all marketing programs, and all branch operations throughout the U.S.

Burton has four children and seven grandchildren, all of whom live in Australia. He lives with his wife and two Golden Retrievers in Norfolk, Va. Upon retirement, he intends to live in the U.S., although more frequent trips to Australia are planned.

*”Number one selling brand” is based on syndicated Irwin Broh Research (commercial landscapers), as well as independent consumer research of 2009-2011 U.S. sales and market share data for the gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment category combined sales to consumers and commercial landscapers.