STIHL Inc., the headquarters for U.S. operations for the worldwide STIHL Group, announced today that it has produced its 50 millionth powerhead unit at the company’s Virginia Beach, Va., manufacturing facility. Amid a backdrop of weak U.S. manufacturing performances and unpredictable slowdowns across the globe, the milestone exemplifies the success STIHL Inc. has enjoyed while pursuing a unique manufacturing and marketing strategy.
“This significant achievement of our 50 millionth unit represents decades of hard work and dedication by our entire team of STIHL employees, from the men and women on our product assembly and manufacturing lines to our territory managers across the country,” said Fred Whyte, president of STIHL Inc.
“From our humble beginnings in 1974, we have chosen to consistently expand our manufacturing capabilities here in America, in-sourcing labor and production, and this milestone reflects the success of these efforts. We take great pride knowing that this choice has resulted in delivering the products, technology, and performance our customers demand and expect.”
“Our two-step distribution process is another driving factor in our success. STIHL is not available in big box mass merchants. Instead, we supply our regional branches and distributors, allowing us to quickly react to demand fluctuation across the country,” Whyte commented. “These strategically located distribution centers provide our product to more than 8,000 independent servicing dealers nationwide. This unique distribution, coupled with reliable and durable products and innovative marketing, has resulted in a year-to-date unit sales increase of over 5 percent, as compared to last year, and helped us become the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America.*”
Over the years, STIHL has continued to evolve its manufacturing processes. “Vertical integration is at the heart of our manufacturing success, and unlike many other companies, we continue to increase our in-house component manufacturing capabilities and make our operation competitive globally while minimizing cost increases,“ Whyte said. The most recent expansion to the Virginia Beach facility, a 55,000-square-foot addition to the accessories plant, doubled the size of the company’s blow-molding operations.
The STIHL “Built in America” success story recently caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which selected the company’s plant as the location to announce a $40 Million initiative to accelerate the trend of in-sourcing, and incentivize companies to bring jobs back to America and invest in American manufacturing.
“STIHL is only one of many global companies making the decision to invest more here in the U.S. STIHL wanted to be here because America is home to their strongest consumer base. It’s no surprise that STIHL considers this plant to be the model for its other facilities around the world,” said Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank.
“We were pleased that Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank chose to recognize STIHL in this way,” said Whyte. “Some people may say that American manufacturing cannot compete in the world economy. We disagree. American innovation, technology, and the American workers are second to none, and we are proving it.”
STIHL began its U.S. operations in 1974 with 50 employees and a single model of chain saw. Since then, production has grown and the company now employs more than 2,000 people nationwide, with more than 1,800 in Virginia Beach, producing a full line of high-quality, handheld outdoor power equipment including blowers, trimmers, brushcutters, and multi-task tools. In addition to serving the U.S. market, the company now exports to more than 90 countries.
For more information on STIHL Inc., visit www.stihlusa.com.
*A majority of STIHL products are built in the United States from domestic and foreign parts and components. "Number one selling brand" is based on syndicated Irwin Broh Research 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.