The 50th anniversary of the Brazilian subsidiary STIHL Ferramentas Motorizadas Ltda. is a special one for STIHL, a family-owned business based in southwestern Germany. STIHL founded the subsidiary, its first in South America, in 1973, marking the start of its international manufacturing network. The company's first chainsaw manufacturing facility outside Germany opened in a leased space in São Leopoldo, located north of Porto Alegre in Brazil's southernmost state.
Anniversary year and celebrations
STIHL Brazil is commemorating its 50th anniversary all year long with several celebrations and communication actions The highlight was a special gala dinner in Porto Alegre on October 11 with some 500 invited guests, including the governor of the state, managing directors from other South American subsidiaries, representatives of major South American retail partners, and staff from STIHL Brazil. Representatives of the STIHL Executive Board also made the trip from Germany, along with Hans Peter Stihl, the son of the company's founder and one of the driving forces behind the STIHL Group's internationalization in the 1960s during his long term as Managing Director, as well as Selina Stihl and Karen Tebar, Deputy Chairs of the STIHL Supervisory and Advisory Boards. "What has been achieved here in 50 years is based primarily on our skilled and committed employees," said Selina Stihl. "On behalf of my family and the Executive Board, I thank you all for your efforts, your creativity, your dedication and highly appreciate your achievements" More than 15.4 million engines have been built in São Leopoldo since the subsidiary was founded. The Brazilian plant has manufactured more than 15.8 million guide bars since 1983 and more than 125 million cylinders since 1996. "Over the years, we have faced many accomplishments and challenges that have brought us this far," said Cláudio Guenther, Managing Director of STIHL Brazil. "All of this was only possible due to the trust of the Stihl family and the Advisory Board in Brazil as a strategic asset for its operations."
Key member of international production network
Since its founding, STIHL Brazil has grown to become the STIHL Group's largest subsidiary. Specializing in cylinders, it is also one of the most important members of the international manufacturing network, with 90 percent of all cylinders installed in STIHL products coming from Brazil. For STIHL, the location opened the door to the South American market. With 3,280 employees today, it is one of the region's leading employers and has repeatedly been the recipient of the Great Place to Work award.
Half a century of growth
Partner companies started importing and distributing STIHL chainsaws in Brazil as early as in the 1950s. STIHL began building its own facilities and assembly lines shortly after opening the plant in 1973. Following the Brazilian government's decision to halt nearly all imports in the mid-1970s, the market would have been lost without the domestic production activities. A short time later, São Leopoldo was already manufacturing four models. In the early 1980s, STIHL Brazil started exporting products to other South American countries. By the 1990s, the location was producing crankshafts, guide bars, and cylinders and delivering them to other production sites. With the number of regional retailers marketing STIHL products steadily on the rise, STIHL Brazil set up training centers for dealers across the country and continued investing in the plant in São Leopoldo to expand the assembly line on multiple occasions and build new warehouse facilities. The most recent additions include a new assembly and production building in 2021 and a new home for tool construction in 2022, as well as dedicated facilities for staff featuring break rooms, common spaces, and a health services center. Measuring more than 2,500 square meters, the building provides dental and physical therapy offices, a lactation room, and a relaxation zone for employees. "We are very proud to be celebrating our 50th anniversary," said Guenther. "Recently, we have had record turnovers, and the group's strategy has been to reinvest part of our resources to develop the business even further, as well as adapting our structure in proportion to the growth recorded and projected."
Caption of the group picture:
STIHL Brazil handed over a golden chainsaw to Hans Peter Stihl as expression of gratitude for his trust and partnership. Pictured from left: Cleomar Luis Prunzel (Vice-President Finance Administration), Arno Tomasini (Vice-President Operations), Romario Pereira Britto (Vice-President Marketing Sales), Hans Peter Stihl, Cláudio Guenther (Managing Director)