Mayor of Waiblingen Andreas Hesky and Vice Mayor James L. Wood of the city of Virginia Beach (Virginia, USA) signed the partnership agreement between the two cities in Waiblingen on Friday evening. STIHL welcomes the partnership of the two most important locations in the STIHL global manufacturing network. "Both cities are closely linked to STIHL's long-term success, so bringing the residents of Waiblingen and Virginia Beach closer together seemed an obvious step to take. I am confident that it will be a fruitful, long-lasting partnership benefiting both sides," said Dr Nikolas Stihl, Chairman of the STIHL Advisory and Supervisory Boards, at the official signing of the sister city agreement. Mayor Hesky welcomed the guests from the United States: "Waiblingen and Virginia Beach are STIHL cities; the company provided the impetus for the sister city partnership. In addition to this strong connection, contact between Tallwood High School and Staufer-Gymasium has linked the cities for more than six years already. The fact that a student exchange programme is also being made possible between Salier-Gymnasium and Cox High School is really wonderful. Links between the fire brigades and artists' groups underline that the citizens are supporting and sustaining this sister city partnership as well despite the physical distance."
The United States is STIHL's most important market. Initial business ties were established as early as the 1930s, while STIHL's production site in Virginia Beach was founded in 1974. "We generate approximately 30 per cent of our global sales in the United States. More than 2,000 employees work at our plant in Virginia Beach. We are thrilled that these close ties have led to a friendship between the cities," said Karl Angler, STIHL CFO and long-standing member of management at STIHL Inc. in the United States. At the moment, STIHL Inc. is investing 25 million euros in a new administrative building in Virginia Beach.
"Sister city partnerships are an important component in strengthening our global relationships and expanding ties between people from different cultures," said Dr Nikolas Stihl in honour of the signing. "Especially in these turbulent times, it is particularly important to strengthen and build upon our transatlantic friendship," Karl Angler emphasised. "Here at STIHL, we believe in mutual respect, close ties and cooperation." The sister city partnership was established in 2017, while a student exchange programme between Waiblingen and the United States was set up in 2012. STIHL provides financial support for the exchange programme. The official signing ceremony marked last year's countersigning in Virginia Beach to initiate the agreement.