CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Fred J. Whyte, President of Stihl Inc., headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., was honored by his peers at a recent Virginia Industry Forum at which the Virginia Manufacturers Assn. (VMA) gave him with the Frank Armstrong III Service Award for his contributions to the Virginia manufacturing sector and the association.
Whyte began his career with Stihl in 1971, working as a regional manager for Stihl American, the same company where his father had worked for nearly two decades. He became product manager for Stihl Inc. in 1975 and was promoted to national sales manager just 4 years later. At the age of 34, Whyte became president of Stihl Limited, where he founded the Canadian operation in 1982 and served until he became president of Stihl Inc. During his 10 years at Stihl Ltd, the Canadian company achieved increases in sales each year. The tradition of achievement continued under Whyte's presidential tenure at Stihl Incorporated, including 7 consecutive years as the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America.*
During Whyte's tenure in Virginia Beach, Stihl has led numerous initiatives that have improved the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector and generated innovative workforce development programs. In particular, Whyte's leadership was instrumental in Virginia Beach becoming the first locality in the Commonwealth to eliminate the machinery and tools tax. Whyte is an industry leader in the area of robotics and automation technology. Whyte also provided an "incubator/laboratory" where the Dream It Do It Virginia Summer Camp was invented and continues to serve parents, teachers and students statewide.
He serves as board rector on the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors and is on the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters Children's Health Foundation board of directors. Previously, he served as chairman of the board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and president of the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association (PPEMA).
Whyte will retire at the end of 2015 after 44 plus years with Stihl.
About the Frank Armstrong III Service Award
The Frank Armstrong III Service Award was created in 2006 in recognition of Frank Armstrong III's 42 years of service on the VMA Board of Directors. The award is given periodically to a VMA member that has distinguished himself/herself through leadership and volunteerism. Candidates are recognized for their overall contribution to the VMA and the manufacturing sector in the Commonwealth. The individual's effectiveness in leading major initiatives is an important factor in this decision. Finally, the individual's selfless contribution of time to the organization and its major programs and services is highly considered as well. Previous winners include Bob Dunn, DuPont-Spruance, for his years of service and founding of VMA Outreach and the Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards which was created and supported by VMA Outreach for nearly 15 years. Bob Leber, Newport News Shipbuilding, was a recipient of the award for his state and national leadership, as part of the Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills, to improve the awareness of skill development needs in manufacturing. Sharon Johnson, Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board, was a recipient, as an associate member, for her tireless leadership in reforming government workforce programs into innovative solutions in partnership with industry to improve skills attainment and manufacturing productivity in the Shenandoah Valley. Mike Killelea, Center of the Universe Brewing Co., who cofounded the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, was a recipient. Killelea's enthusiasm and commitment to the craft beer industry contributed to the passage of SB604 in 2012 that is the impetus behind the explosive growth in the Virginia craft beer industry.