Case Studies STIHL Inc.
Strong as STIHL in Virginia Since 1974
No Stranger to No. 1
STIHL Inc., the Virginia-based headquarters for U.S. operations of the worldwide STIHL Group, manufactures the No.1 selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America, as well as the No.1 selling brand of chainsaws in the world. Notably, the company’s products are sold solely through authorized local STIHL Dealers from coast to coast — not big box stores. STIHL Inc. exports to more than 80 countries around the world, and the majority of STIHL products sold in America are also built in America: in Virginia.
Germany-based STIHL Group was founded in 1926, and by 1971 produced the world’s best-selling chainsaw brand. Recognizing the U.S. market as one of the largest in the world, the Stihl family decided to open a manufacturing facility in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 1974. For nearly 50 years, STIHL has been an invaluable corporate partner in the Commonwealth. Decades of success have resulted in global and domestic competition for the company’s many expansions, but the Commonwealth and the City of Virginia Beach continue to provide STIHL with the most fertile environment for growth.
The Virginia Solution
Infrastructure, Access, and The Port of Virginia
Finding a site with access to a major port was a critical factor in STIHL’s selection process, and Virginia Beach’s proximity to one of the country’s largest deepwater ports made it an ideal U.S. location, allowing the international manufacturer strategic access to the global marketplace. As the only East Coast port with authorization for 55-foot channels, The Port of Virginia boasts deep shipping channels, no height restrictions, and double-stack rail service with two Class 1 railroads.
Virginia’s world-class port, rail, roadway, and air transportation infrastructure helps companies fully unlock the potential offered by the state’s strategic location. The Commonwealth is home to the second-densest interstate system in the Southeast, offering direct access to critical North-South and East-West trucking thoroughfares (Interstates 95, 81, 85, and 64) and 3,000 miles of railways anchored by Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern. A majority of the products produced at STIHL’s Virginia plant are sent to 11 branches and distributors across the U.S. that, in turn, sell the products to more than 10,000 authorized local STIHL Dealers across the country. Virginia’s infrastructure will be secured for years to come thanks to $27 billion in fully funded investment currently underway.
In 1974, STIHL Inc. began assembling one model of chainsaw in a rented 20,000-square-foot facility in Virginia Beach with 50 employees. The manufacturing area was expanded in 1983 and again in 1990. In 1996, STIHL continued its growth with the opening of a new 50,000-square-foot storage facility to house finished goods for worldwide distribution. In 2003, the company announced a 228,000-square-foot addition, followed by another $78.4 million expansion in 2005.
In 2019, STIHL completed a $30 million expansion of its U.S. headquarters operation, constructing a state-of-the-art, 80,000-square-foot administration facility to combine the finance and controlling, sales and marketing, legal, and customer and technical service teams under one roof, as well as the addition of a new museum and brand experience center.
Today, more than 2,100 employees work in over 1 million square feet of operating space, manufacturing millions of powerheads a year on the sprawling 150-acre campus located at Oceana West Corporate Park in Virginia Beach. The advanced manufacturing facility uses highly automated technology to produce more than 80 models of STIHL equipment through vertically integrated processes with extensive quality assurance checks.
The quality of a workforce reflects the quality of a company, and STIHL is committed to excellence in its products, people, and dealers. As the headquarters for STIHL Group’s entire U.S. operations, the Virginia Beach facility depends on a strong, consistent pipeline of employees with diverse specialties.
Virginia prides itself on offering one of the top workforces in the country, including a robust working veteran population. Each year, thousands exit the military and enter the civilian workforce in Virginia, providing a steady stream of dedicated talent to a variety of industries. The Commonwealth is known for its world-class post-secondary education system that consists of more than 45 local and regional universities and 23 public community colleges with 40 campuses around the state. Ranked the No.2 State for Higher Education (SmartAsset, 2022), Virginia has continuously provided STIHL with a premier labor pool that can effectively fill all machining, product assembly, molding, engineering, sales and marketing, and finance positions.
The Next 49 Years Begins with a $49M Investment
In 2022, STIHL announced plans to invest $49 million to expand its chain saw guide bar manufacturing facility in Virginia Beach. The expansion will add 26,000 square feet of space to an existing building, totaling 86,000 square feet upon completion. The new project will allow for a third chain saw guide bar production line to be added, increasing production capacity. Currently, most chain saw guide bar production takes place at other STIHL locations overseas, and this expansion allows additional manufacturing activity to be moved to the company's Virginia Beach location. In addition to increasing its footprint, STIHL plans to invest in state-of-the-art equipment and add 15 highly skilled positions to its team, including maintenance mechatronic technicians, process engineers, tool and die makers, project coordinators, and machine operators.
Virginia is home to all facets of the manufacturing industry, and securing STIHL’s U.S. headquarters and manufacturing operation nearly five decades ago continues to bring far-reaching benefits. STIHL repeatedly demonstrates a commitment to longevity in the Commonwealth with forward thought, expansion, and job creation. Virginia is proud to be the home of STIHL’s largest manufacturing location worldwide, and looks forward to supporting the company’s growth for the next 50 years.