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STIHL News STIHL Inc Names New President, CEO and Stihl to Open Brand World


New President, CEO
Virginia Beach-based Stihl Inc. has announced a leadership shift less than a year after Terry Horan took on the role of president and CEO.

Chris Keffer, senior vice president of sales and marking, will become the company’s new president and CEO on August 4, replacing Horan, who was named to the company’s board of directors, the company said Friday.

Stihl Inc. is the largest subsidiary of the global Stihl Group and employs more than 1,900 workers in Virginia Beach.

“Terry has the heartfelt thanks of the Stihl family for his exceptional leadership,” Nikolas Stihl, Stihl Group advisory board and supervisory board chair, said in a statement. “He has built a strong leadership team and established the foundation for significant growth through a demonstrated commitment to our loyal distribution network and local Stihl dealers, focusing the organization on winning as one team.”

Stihl spokesman Roger Phelps told Virginia Business that Horan’s decision to step down from his current role was made in consultation with the company’s executive board and is part of its larger succession plan. Keffer joined Stihl in April 2022 as vice president of sales and marketing from Stanley Black & Decker Inc., where he spent nearly two decades, according to his LinkedIn profile. Keffer has been helping to lead Stihl’s transition toward battery-powered equipment, Phelps said.

Stihl joined the American Green Zone Alliance to support battery electric transition training and education, Landscape Management reported in late June.

“The USA is by far our most important market worldwide,” Stihl Executive Board Chairman Michael Traub said in a statement. “These appointments provide stability and continuity, which are critical to our long-term strategic and operational success. Chris has quickly established himself as an innovator and leader and has a keen understanding of our market and our customers. His experience and expertise will enable the company to lead in all markets in which we choose to compete.”

In October 2021, Stihl announced that its U.S.-based president of operations, Bjoern Fischer, and Nick Jiannas, vice president of U.S. sales and marketing, were leaving by mutual agreement. Fischer had served as president since 2016 and had been with Stihl since 2012.

Horan, who served as RPM Consumer Group president at Ohio-based sealant, coating and building materials manufacturer RPM International Inc., was hired after an extensive search.

Neither Horan nor Keffer were immediately available for comment Friday.
“For nearly 100 years, Stihl has remained steadfastly committed to providing the premium quality tools our professional and demanding residential users expect,” Horan said in a statement. “Working on this marquee brand alongside our loyal and dedicated workforce has been the pinnacle of my 37-year professional career. I look forward to supporting Chris and the executive council, as together we continue our legacy of market leadership.”

Before joining Stihl, Keffer served as president of product management for Stanley Black & Decker’s power tools group. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and an executive MBA from Loyola University Maryland.
“I would like to thank Terry, the Stihl board and the Stihl family for their confidence in me,” Keffer said in a statement. “Stihl has always had a long-term strategic outlook. So, while our market may be facing short-term challenges, we see tremendous opportunity in our future. We have the people, products, programs and partners to grow our position as the leading authority in the gas and battery outdoor power equipment markets.


Stihl to Open Brand World

Museum part of company’s extensive rework of German headquarters

Located on the banks of the Rems River with a view of its natural surroundings, the Stihl Brand World includes a three-story exhibition space. (Photo: Stihl Group)

Outdoor power equipment specialist Stihl has opened its new Brand World (Markenweldt in German) in Waiblingen, Germany. Part of an extensive, multi-year project to expand the company’s headquarters, the Stihl Brand World is designed to take visitors on a journey through the nearly 100-year history of the business and the brand. One highlight of the exhibition is a comprehensive knowledge platform about the power of forests.

“I find the new Stihl Brand World impressive,” said Winfried Kretschmann, the minister-president of Baden-Württemberg (the German state in which Stihl is based), at the grand opening ceremony in July. “It’s exciting to see how much technology and know-how goes into these products.”

For Stihl Advisory Board and Supervisory Board Chairman Dr. Nikolas Stihl, the new building was an investment in the future that reaffirms the company’s commitment to its hometown of Waiblingen.

“The total investment of more than 100 million euros, by and far the most expensive construction project in our company’s history, underscores yet again Stihl’s deep connection to the location and the region,” Stihl said. “The Brand World is the centerpiece of the modernization and extensive expansion of the Stihl founding company headquarters. It gives visitors the opportunity to get to know our family-owned business — along with our philosophy, history, present, and future — in an informative and interactive manner.”

Winfried Kretschmann, the minister-president of Baden-Württemberg, the German state that is home to Stihl. (Photo: Stihl Group)

Three levels

Located on the banks of the Rems River, the Brand World includes a three-story exhibition space measuring just over 1500 sq.m.

“Besides the development of the company and Stihl’s innovative products, the exhibition focuses on the power of forests, which has been inextricably linked with the Stihl brand since Andreas Stihl founded the company in 1926,” said Sarah Gewert, Stihl Executive Board member for Marketing and Sales. “The importance of the forest for our planet, especially in light of ongoing climate change, as well as the way sustainable forestry works and the relevance of the forest for each and every one of us, is presented interactively on a dedicated level.”

The company worked with international experts from science and forestry to create the knowledge platform, which combines research and practical applications and is curated by Professor Jürgen Bauhus, Chair of Silviculture at the University of Freiburg.

Two additional levels, Vision and Innovation, showcase the company’s history — from its roots with two-man saws used in forestry to the latest Stihl technology, as well as a preview of the future and applications yet to come. Employees also play a role in the exhibition, with some presenting topics that are currently relevant to the company, such as the Stihl sustainability strategy, the high degree of vertical integration, and product innovations in the fields of safety and ergonomics.

In addition to gaining insights into manufacturing and assembly, visitors also have the chance to explore the wide range of products from Stihl.

The Stihl Timbersports section lets visitors immerse themselves in the competitive atmosphere of lumberjack sports. The complex also features an amphitheater for product demonstrations, a café, and the Stihl brand shop.

The exhibition is presented in German and English. The company said it was created to appeal to a wide audience — from forestry, horticulture, and landscaping professionals to fans of Stihl — without neglecting younger guests as well as people who are simply interested in learning more about the company.

A digital guide escorts visitors through the exhibition and provides additional informative content.

The Stihl Brand World is scheduled to open its doors to the general public on Saturday, Sept. 30. Online tickets for the exhibition’s regular Saturday and Sunday visiting hours are expected to go on sale starting in mid-September at markenwelt.stihl.de. An internal test phase to train additional visitor guides and optimize operating processes will continue until then.

Construction underway since 2019

Construction of the new complex started in 2019 with the gutting of company’s high-rise office complex. Originally built in 1972, the tower has now been fully renovated to house roughly 300 modern workspaces and a selection of meeting rooms. The old company buildings around the high-rise have been replaced by new ones containing the Brand World, a staff cafeteria, and additional office space.

Despite major challenges during construction as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, building work progressed on schedule, allowing the company to dedicate its new headquarters as planned in late 2022. The opening of the Stihl Brand World marks the culmination of the construction project.

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