Hans Peter Stihl celebrates his 85th birthday on April 18. He is general partner of STIHL Holding AG & Co. KG and honorary chairman of the STIHL Advisory and Supervisory Boards. Under his stewardship STIHL grew into a successful international group.
Hans Peter Stihl was born in Stuttgart in 1932. His father, Andreas Stihl, founded an engineering office in 1926 and developed chainsaws that were soon to revolutionize work in the woods. The demand for the saws increased and the office grew into an impressive factory. Before joining his father's company in 1960, Hans Peter Stihl studied mechanical engineering at Stuttgart university where he obtained his degree. He was quickly given more responsibility in the company and soon assumed management of the "Manufacturing and Design" department; in 1966 he became a member of the board of management, responsible for product development, materials, production and organization. In 1971, he was made a general partner alongside his father.
In the 1970s, Stihl, together with his sister Eva, laid the foundation stone for the international manufacturing network and the worldwide sales organization, which are still the hallmarks of the STIHL Group to this day. Stihl was also the driving force behind the steady expansion of the product portfolio. Under his leadership, the company grew into a global player. STIHL has been the world's biggest selling chainsaw brand since 1971. Stihl also gave employees the opportunity to share in the company's success – and that still applies today. Staff can subscribe to shares in the company's capital in the form of participating rights. Apart from that, the company's voluntary fringe benefits include an annual merit bonus and a company pension scheme.
After 36 years, on July 1, 2002, Stihl withdrew from the operative side of the business together with his sisters and brother and transferred management of the company to a non-family executive board. The Stihl family moved to the Advisory and Supervisory Boards where, chaired by Hans Peter Stihl, important strategic decisions were made from then on. On June 30, 2012, he resigned as chairman of both boards. He was succeeded by his son Dr. Nikolas Stihl. His sister, Eva Mayr-Stihl, continued as deputy chairwoman.
In addition to his business activities, Stihl also occupied many honorary positions. He was, for example, president of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHT) from 1988 to 2001. In that office he advocated strong self-management of the economy and was responsible for a substantial enlargement of the worldwide network of bilateral chambers of commerce. Since 2002 he has represented the Republic of Singapore as Honorary Consul and as Honorary Consul-General since 2004 in the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland Palatinate and Saarland. Furthermore, he was a member of the supervisory and advisory boards of numerous companies, including IBM Deutschland, Bosch and Südwestbank.
Stihl has received many awards for his entrepreneurial and honorary achievements, e.g. the Grand Order of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany (2002), the Staufer Medal in Gold of Baden-Württemberg (2007), the Konrad Adenaur Foundation's "Social Market Economy" prize (2009), which he received jointly with his sister Eva-Mayr-Stihl, and the Diesel Medal in the category "Best Innovative Accomplishment" (2012).
Even today at 85, Stihl is still very present in the company. He comes to the office every day, which he still shares with his sister Eva Mayr-Stihl, and goes to the STIHL works canteen for lunch. Hans Peter Stihl remains firmly committed to the company his father founded more than 90 years ago.