Waiblingen, 4/11/2022 | Company press release

Hans Peter Stihl turns 90

Hans Peter Stihl celebrates his 90th birthday on April 18, 2022. His 36 years at the helm and 10 years as Chairman of the STIHL Advisory and Supervisory Boards have left a lasting impression on the family-owned company. The STIHL Group’s successful development can largely be attributed to his entrepreneurial influence. Moreover, Hans Peter Stihl is inextricably linked with the story of modern Germany by means of his tremendous dedication to charitable causes and holding of honorary positions. The extraordinary, and in many respects formative, achievements of his life will be celebrated in the company of his family on his 90th birthday. Hans Peter Stihl continues to be a personally liable shareholder of STIHL Holding AG & Co. KG, as well as Honorary Chairman of the STIHL Advisory and Supervisory Boards.

Strong growth and internationalization of the business

In 1960, Hans Peter Stihl joined the company founded by his father Andreas Stihl, and quickly assumed responsibility for manufacturing and design. When his father passed away in 1973, he became the sole personally liable shareholder. At that time the company employed 2,500 people and generated an annual revenue of 220 million Deutschmarks. Under his leadership, the family-owned STIHL company developed into an internationally established corporate group that operated production facilities in Germany, the USA, Brazil, Switzerland, Austria, China and the Philippines and had a constantly expanding product range. In 2002, Hans Peter Stihl and the family shareholders withdrew from STIHL operational business and a non-family Executive Board was appointed. In 2020, the STIHL Group generated annual revenue of 4.58 billion euros and had around 18,200 employees. STIHL distributes its products in more than 160 countries via a global network of 41 STIHL-owned sales and marketing companies, 120 independent importers, and around 54,000 authorized dealers.

Strong sense of responsibility to employees

Hans Peter Stihl has always felt a particular obligation towards his employees. “Our family-owned company has a long tradition of economically including employees in our success by means of profit-participation rights, annual performance-related bonuses, and company pension plans,” said Stihl, going on to emphasize: “Good interpersonal togetherness within the company is also very important to me and something we cultivate as a matter of tradition.” Employees who have been with the company for 25, 40, or 50 years celebrate their work anniversaries with relatives, supervisors, colleagues, the Executive Board, and the Stihl family. The company also has a tradition of staff celebrations, company anniversaries, and retirement parties. The company identity that Hans Peter Stihl shaped continues to be evident even now: During the pandemic, the company gave employees, their families, and the general public access to vaccination services and medical infrastructure financed by STIHL.

Many years of commitment in honorary positions

Alongside his business activities, Hans Peter Stihl has always been very active in honorary positions. From 1988 to 2001, he was president of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). As a staunch proponent of the social market economy, he continues to regard regulatory policy as the guiding principle for economic policy action. Stihl has called for lower subsidies, tax reform, and a demographically robust social security system. During his DIHK presidency Stihl advocated strong self-governance for business and, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, he significantly expanded the worldwide network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) .

After leaving his DIHK leadership in February 2001, Hans Peter Stihl served as honorary president of the same organization and also the Stuttgart Chamber of Industry and Commerce, of which he was president from 1989 to 2001. From 1973 to 1988 he sat on the board of the Federation of the Baden-Württemberg Metal Industry (Verband der Metallindustrie Baden-Württemberg e.V. (VMI)), and for the last eight years of that period was chairman of the board. Connected to this and at the same time, he was also vice president of the Federation of German Employers’ Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries (Gesamtverband der Metallindustriellen Arbeitgeberverbände e.V., Gesamtmetall). Until 2019, Hans Peter Stihl represented the Republic of Singapore at the company headquarters in Waiblingen, as Honorary Consul-General in the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland Palatinate, and Saarland.

Supervisory and Advisory Board activities beyond STIHL

In addition to his entrepreneurial and voluntary commitment, Hans Peter Stihl also served on numerous supervisory boards and advisory boards. For example, he was a member of the Supervisory Board of IBM Deutschland GmbH, Südwestbank AG and IKB Industriebank AG. From June 1995 to mid-2006, Stihl was a shareholder in Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG in Stuttgart. He was second deputy chairman of the administrative board at Landesgirokasse in Stuttgart from 1995 to 1997, having previously served as chairman of its board of trustees for eight years. He sat on the joint advisory board of the Allianz companies in Munich from 1988 to 2003, and was a member of the bank advisory board of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.

Numerous awards

In 1982, Hans Peter Stihl was awarded the Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany. He went on to receive the Grand Cross of Merit in 1992 and the Grand Cross of Merit with Star in 2002. Stihl holds the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold with Star from the Republic of Austria. The Stuttgart Chamber of Industry and Commerce presented him with the Mercury Prize in 1997, while his services to the Stuttgart region were recognized in 2001 when the Stuttgart Regional Forum awarded him the “Regionaut”. In 2003 he was awarded the Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize for his work strengthening and promoting the principles of a community based on individual freedom. On November 11, 2009, in St Paul’s Church in Frankfurt, he and his sister Eva Mayr-Stihl were awarded the “Social Market Economy Prize” by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. In 2012, for his own work and also on behalf of the entire STIHL development team, he accepted the Diesel Medal for the most successful innovative accomplishment. His most recent awards include the 2018 Reinhold Maier Medal for his services to liberalism, and the 2019 Aachen Engineering Prize from RWTH Aachen University in recognition of his “entrepreneurial lifetime achievement, which combined engineering innovation with economic success and long-term social commitment.”

Present and active at 90

Even at 90 years old, Hans Peter Stihl still remains present at the Waiblingen head office of this family-owned business, keenly following global business performance and the development of new products. The Development department’s annual forest trip cannot take place without Stihl; he also tests new products himself. The soon-to-be nonagenarian is a welcome guest at the company’s worldwide locations, and his expertise is appreciated even beyond the world of STIHL. This year, for example, Stihl attended the Federal Assembly at Paul Löbe House in Berlin for the election of the German president.

For Hans Peter Stihl, it is of the utmost importance that STIHL remains a company owned by descendants of its founder: “The STIHL company is unique in our industry today, in having been fully owned by our family since its founding 96 years ago.  And we remain a family-owned company. It puts us in a position of considerable strength and makes it possible for us to pursue long-term strategies.” Stihl will celebrate his 90th birthday with his family on Easter Monday.

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