Waiblingen, 10/18/2023 | Company press release
The fiftieth anniversary of Ferramentas Motorizadas Ltda., the STIHL Brazilian subsidiary, is a special one for the Swabian family-owned STIHL company. When the Brazil company was established back in 1973 not only was it the first South American subsidiary, it also represented the beginning of the international production network. The first STIHL chainsaw production outside Germany began in rented premises in São Leopoldo, north of Porto Alegre in Brazil’s southernmost state.
Anniversary year and celebrations
STIHL Brazil is commemorating its 50th anniversary with a wealth of campaigns and celebrations throughout the whole year. The highlight was on October 11, with around 500 guests invited to a gala dinner in Porto Alegre, among them the state governor, managing directors from other South American subsidiaries, representatives of major South American retail partners, and staff from STIHL Brazil. Some of the STIHL Executive Board traveled from Germany to join the event, along with Hans Peter Stihl – son of the company founder and long-serving former Managing Director who was a key player in advancing the internationalization of the STIHL Group in the 1960s – as well as Selina Stihl and Karen Tebar, Deputy Chairpersons of the STIHL Supervisory and Advisory Boards. “Everything that has been achieved here over the past 50 years is, above all, down to our skilled and dedicated employees,” said Selina Stihl. “On behalf of my family and the Executive Board, I thank you all for your efforts, creativity, and commitment. We hugely appreciate what you do!” More than 15.4 million engines have been built in São Leopoldo since the subsidiary was set up there. What’s more, the Brazilian plant has manufactured more than 15.8 million guide bars since 1983 and more than 125 million cylinders since 1996. “We have had to overcome a few challenges over the years to make it this far,” said Cláudio Guenther, Managing Director of STIHL Brazil, continuing, “We were able to do so because the Stihl family, the Supervisory Board, and the Advisory Board placed their confidence in Brazil as a strategically important site for the company.”
Essential part of the manufacturing network
Since its establishment STIHL Brazil has expanded to become the STIHL Group’s largest subsidiary and, as a cylinder specialist, one of the most important members of the international manufacturing network – of all the cylinders used in the STIHL Group, 90% are made in Brazil. This site was a gateway to the South American market for STIHL. With 3,280 employees today, it is one of the region’s leading employers and has several times been awarded the “Great Place to Work” accolade.
Half a century of growth
Partner companies started importing and distributing STIHL chainsaws to Brazil in the 1950s. The 1973 establishment of the factory was quickly followed by the company constructing its own buildings and assembly lines. Considering that in the mid-1970s the Brazilian government decided to halt nearly all imports, if this domestic production had not already been in place the company would have lost the entire market. Before long the São Leopoldo site was already manufacturing four models, and in the early 1980s STIHL Brazil started exporting to other South American countries. Since the 1990s, the facility has been producing crankshafts, guide bars and cylinders for delivery to other production sites. With an ever-rising number of regional retailers marketing STIHL products, STIHL Brazil has set up training centers for dealers across the country. It has also continually invested in the São Leopoldo plant, expanding the assembly line several times and building new warehouse facilities. Most recently a new assembly and manufacturing building was added in 2021 and a new toolmaking building in 2022. A new dedicated employee building has also been created, housing social spaces and health facilities: Across more than 2,500 square meters, there are dental and physical therapy practices, a lactation room, and a relaxation zone for employees. “We are very proud to be celebrating our 50th anniversary. Successfully achieving record sales for many years has enabled us to continue investing and expanding STIHL Brazil on an ongoing basis,” said Cláudio Guenther.