Stihl Inc., the headquarters for U.S. operations for the worldwide Stihl Group, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of manufacturing in the U.S.
What began with fewer than 50 employees assembling one model of chain saw in a rented warehouse in 1974 has grown into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Today, Stihl Inc. manufactures more than 275 model variations, exports to more than 90 countries, and employs more than 2,100 nationwide.
“Our initial operation was modest, but through the leadership of the Stihl family, exceptional German engineering, and superior American manufacturing, we have grown into the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America,*” said Fred Whyte, president of Stihl Inc., during the anniversary celebration at the Virginia Beach, Va., headquarters.
During the anniversary Oktoberfest celebration, Stihl Inc. hosted those who have contributed to its success in American manufacturing, including two generations of the Stihl family from Germany, as well as employees, distributors, and others. The event was held in conjunction with the company’s national sales meeting where it was announced to the approximately 250 branch and distributor representatives from around the U.S. that the company was enjoying record sales and record market share.
“What makes me particularly proud about these 40 years is not just that we have succeeded but that we have done so by remaining true to our values,” said Dr. Nikolas Stihl, who worked at Stihl Inc. as a product manager in the 1990s and now leads the worldwide company as chairman of the Stihl advisory board of Stihl Holding AG & Co.
The company is also well known for its unique distribution strategy, spurning mass merchants and selling its products through a network of 8,500 servicing dealers, who pride themselves on providing professional advice, product demonstrations, and service.
“Our unique distribution strategy may seem curious to consumers used to the mass merchants, and many of our competitors have chosen a path to quick profits, which can often be at the expense of quality. This is not the Stihl way,” said Hans Peter Stihl, general partner and son of the company founder Andreas Stihl.
Since 1974, the company has steadily increased its investment in its U.S. facilities, introducing new product lines and increasing vertical integration. Stihl Inc. has been recognized with multiple accolades for manufacturing excellence, including the AME Manufacturing Excellence Award and Plant of the Year award from Assembly magazine.
Whyte, who has led the company through more than 20 record sales years during his tenure as president said, “I’d like to express appreciation to the entire Stihl team who has made our 40-year success story possible. We should all look forward to what the next 40 years will bring for Stihl Inc.”