STIHL Inc. Builds Success in Virginia
Manufacturing the No. 1 Brand of Chain Saws in the World
STIHL Inc. opened its first U.S. plant in Virginia Beach back in 1974 to manufacture one model of chain saws. This global leader, headquartered in Germany, initially selected the Commonwealth due to the world-class capabilities of the Port of Virginia. "We are still bringing in a lot of containers from Europe and also sending hundreds of containers out. I would rate it [The Port of Virginia] the No. 1 container terminal on the East Coast," said Peter Mueller, Executive Vice President at STIHL Inc.
Thirty-eight years later the company has blossomed in the Commonwealth, now manufacturing the No. 1 brand of chain saws in the world as well as the No. 1 selling brand of handheld outdoor power equipment in America. Virginia Beach is home to the company’s U.S. headquarters where it manufactures more than 225 models of chain saws and other power equipment. In addition to serving the North American market, STIHL exports products to more than 90 countries through Virginia's port facilities. Through multiple expansions the Virginia Beach facility has grown from 20,000 square feet under one roof to more than one million square feet on a 90-acre campus.
Over the last 20 years STIHL Inc. has invested more than $317 million, bringing 942 new jobs to the Commonwealth. The company's most recent announcement in December 2011 includes plans to invest $10.3 million and create 52 new jobs, allowing STIHL Inc. to grow its blow molding operation and expand its manufacturing capacity by another 53,256 square feet.
Virginia has successfully competed against China, Brazil and Germany over the years on STIHL's expansion projects. What keeps a a global leader like STIHL coming back to the Commonwealth? World-class transportation capabilities, an educated workforce and pro-business labor laws are at the top of the list. "Our Virginia Beach workforce has proven its ability to meet the demands of our customers, both here and overseas," said Mueller. "Because of the manufacturing-friendly environment in Virginia Beach, we are able to compete domestically and globally, ultimately allowing us to continue to expand our operations here."
Virginia’s highly skilled workforce includes 18,000 military personnel who exit the armed services each year, adding a technically savvy and disciplined supply of recruits to Virginia’s labor force. "The American worker is very highly productive. I can put my people against the rest of the world," stated Mueller.
STIHL has done just that and reaped the benefits. To learn why companies keep coming back to the Commonwealth and why Virginia is consistently ranked a top state for business by CNBC, Forbes.com and Pollina Corporate Real Estate click here.
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