Hans Peter Stihl will be celebrating his 90th birthday on April 18, 2022. His 36 years at the helm and his 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. In addition, Stihl is inextricably linked to the history of modern-day Germany through his tremendous dedication to charitable causes and holding honorary positions. His 90th birthday will be a celebration of his extraordinary and, in many respects, formative life's work in the company of his family. Today, Stihl remains a general partner of STIHL Holding AG & Co. KG and Honorary Chairman of the STIHL Advisory and Supervisory Boards.
Strong growth and internationalization
In 1960, Hans Peter Stihl joined the company founded by his father Andreas Stihl, before quickly assuming responsibility for manufacturing and design. When his father passed away in 1973, he became the sole general partner. At the time, the company employed 2,500 people and generated an annual revenue of 220 million German marks. Under his leadership, the family-run business developed into an international group of companies with a steadily expanding product line and production sites in Germany, the United States, Brazil, Switzerland, Austria, China and in the Philippines. In 2002, Stihl and the family shareholders withdrew from STIHL's business operations, and an Executive Board without any members of the Stihl family was appointed. In 2020, the STIHL Group employed around 18,200 people and yielded an annual revenue of 4.58 billion euros. STIHL distributes its products in more than 160 countries through a global network of 41 STIHL-owned sales and marketing companies, 120 independent importers, and some 54,000 authorized dealers.
A strong sense of responsibility toward the workforce
Hans Peter Stihl has always felt a special obligation towards his employees. "Our family-owned company has a long tradition of allowing employees to benefit from our success in the form of profit-participation rights, annual performance-related bonuses, and company pension plans," says Stihl. "Good personal relationships within the company are very important to me and have always been fostered." Employees who have been with company for 25, 40, or 50 years celebrate their work anniversaries with relatives, supervisors, colleagues, the Executive Board, and the Stihl family. Festivities for the staff, company anniversaries, and functions for retirees also have a long history at the company. Stihl's business philosophy continues to have an impact today. 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 in honorary offices
Apart from 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 good governance as the guiding principle of economic policy. Stihl has called for lower subsidies, tax reform, and a demographically sound social security system. During his DIHK presidency, Stihl advocated strong self-management of businesses and expanded the worldwide network of bilateral chambers of commerce significantly after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
When Stihl resigned his top posts at the DIHK in February 2001, he was named honorary president of the organization and the Stuttgart Chamber of Industry and Commerce, where he had been president from 1989 to 2001. He was a member of the board of the Federation of the Baden-Württemberg Metal Industry from 1973 to 1988, serving the last eight years of that period as chairman. At the same time, he was also vice president of the Federation of German Employers' Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries. 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
Alongside his business and honorary commitments, Hans Peter Stihl served as an advisor and was also on numerous supervisory boards at companies such as IBM Deutschland GmbH, Südwestbank AG, and IKB Industriebank AG. From June 1995 to mid-2006, Stihl was a partner of Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG in Stuttgart. He was second deputy chairman of the administrative board at Landesgirokasse in Stuttgart from 1995 to 1997, after previously serving as its chairman of the 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 central advisory panel of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt am Main.
In 1982, Hans Peter Stihl was awarded the 1st Class Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He received the Grand Order of Merit in 1992 and the Grand Order of Merit with Star in 2002. Stihl is a bearer of the Grand Gold Medal of Honor with Star of the Republic of Austria. The Stuttgart Chamber of Industry and Commerce presented him with the Merkur Prize in 1997, while the Stuttgart Regional Forum awarded him the "Regionaut" prize in 2001 for his services to the Stuttgart region. In 2003, he received the Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize for his work in strengthening and promoting the principles of a free society. On Nov. 11, 2009, he and his sister Eva Mayr-Stihl were presented with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation's Social Market Economy Award at St. Paul's church in Frankfurt am Main. In 2012, he accepted the Diesel Medal for "Best Innovative Achievement" on behalf of the entire STIHL development team and for his own work. His most recent awards include the Reinhold Maier Medal in 2018 for his services to liberalism and the Aachen Engineering Prize in 2019 as recognition for his "life's work, which combined engineering innovation with economic success and long-term social commitment."
Active and present at 90
Even at the age of 90, Hans Peter Stihl still maintains a presence at the company's headquarters in Waiblingen, keenly following global business performance and the development of the latest products. The development department's annual forest tour cannot take place without Stihl, who also tests new products. At the company's worldwide locations, the soon-to-be nonagenarian is a welcome guest whose 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 Stihl, it is of the utmost importance that STIHL remains a company owned by the descendants of the founder: "In our industry today, STIHL has the unique selling point that it has been fully owned by our family since its founding 96 years ago. And we remain a family-owned company. This puts us in a position of considerable strength and enables us to pursue long-term strategies." Stihl will be celebrating his 90th birthday with his family on Easter Monday.