The family-owned Stihl company celebrated its 90th anniversary on July 16 with more than 8,000 guests. The staff and their families as well as company retirees were invited to the family fete at the founding company in Waiblingen-Neustadt, Germany. The founder’s grandson and current chairman of the supervisory and advisory boards, Dr. Nikolas Stihl said, "The Stihl success story has been built on the skill and high commitment of our workforce. Those of you who have worked with, and for Stihl in the past, and those of you who are still actively involved are the basis of our success. This staff fete is the family's and the executive board's way of thanking you most sincerely for your dedication, your untiring work and for your many years, even decades of loyalty to our company." Marcus Retter, chairman of the general works council said, "Stihl is a great asset for our state because of its outstanding entrepreneurial accomplishments. Our staff is proud to work for Stihl. This is proven by the long period of service with the company, which averages more than 16 years."
A 90-year Success Story
When company founder Andreas Stihl developed his first chain saw 90 years ago, he wanted to "make people's work in, and with nature, easier". As a qualified mechanical engineer, he opened his engineering office in Stuttgart in 1926 and set about implementing his vision. His first chain saw was a two-man electric model. A gasoline chain saw was announced in 1929, and it was not long before success ensued. In the years that followed, Stihl regularly launched new models on the market. The small engineering office of the early days grew into an impressive engineering factory.
Andreas Stihl was a pioneer of globalization. He soon began to sell his first gasoline chain saws in neighboring European countries. Starting in 1930, Stihl exported chain saws to America, then to Russia a year later. In the years thereafter, Stihl set up sales companies in what were and still are its most important markets around the world. In the early 1970s, Hans Peter Stihl and Eva Mayr-Stihl, the children of the company founder, began to build up an international manufacturing network with plants in the U.S., Brazil and Switzerland. Their brother Dr. Rüdiger Stihl joined the company in 1978. Their sister Gerhild Schetter, neè Stihl, is also a limited partner.
Stihl acquired garden equipment manufacturer, Viking, in 1992. The third generation joined the company in the same year, which involved considerable structural changes. In 1995, the Stihl companies were placed under the umbrella of a holding company. A comprehensive partnership agreement ensured that the company remained wholly in the hands of the family. This was an important step, as the family withdrew from the operative side of the business in 2002. A non-family executive board was appointed and has been headed by Dr. Bertram Kandziora since 2003. "The driving force behind our work is the passion for engineering and premium quality to the benefit of our customers," said executive board chairman Dr. Betram Kandziora. The Stihl success story continues, the product portfolio has been broadened, the dealer network enlarged, sales companies expanded and plants in China and the Philippines added to the international manufacturing network. The Stihl family is closely involved in all strategic decisions through the holding company's advisory board and the supervisory board of Stihl AG. The next change came in 2012 when Dr. Nikolas Stihl, Hans Peter Stihl's son, took over the chair of the advisory and supervisory boards.
Since it was founded, Stihl has grown from a one-man business into a global outdoor power equipment manufacturer. Today, this Swabian company with its long tradition employs about 15,000 men and women and achieves an annual turnover of 3.25 billion euros. Stihl maintains a market presence throughout the world with its 36 sales and marketing subsidiaries and a dense network of some 120 importers. More than 40,000 authorized servicing dealers worldwide offer Stihl customers qualified advice and comprehensive customer service. The Stihl Group develops, manufactures and distributes power tools for professional forestry and agriculture as well as for garden and landscape maintenance, the construction sector and the demanding private user. Stihl has been the world's top-selling chain saw brand since 1971.
The Strength to Grow
Stihl wants to continue growing on a sustained basis in the future, too. In order to prepare the ground for this, the company will be investing a billion euros worldwide between 2015 and 2018. Stihl inaugurated a new production logistics building in Waiblingen in March 2016 and a 12,600 square meter extension to the engineering center – a clear commitment to Germany as a business location. The extension greatly increases the company's capacity to develop electronic systems and cordless products.
Apart from the long-term strategic orientation, concentrating on core competences is a key part of the company's philosophy. Stihl focuses consistently on customer requirements, produces premium quality products and provides technical advice, customer instruction and service – in keeping with the motto of the company founder, "Every chain saw is only as good as its service."