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Man of STIHL, and Power Tool Icon, Dies after 45 Years of Service

 
Release Date: 7/10/2017

Press Inquiries: 
Lindsy Shrewsberry 
(757) 486-9286
 

All other inquiries:
STIHL Incorporated
(757) 486-9100

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Fred Whyte with a STIHL chainsaw.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. — Fred Whyte, former president of STIHL Inc., passed away July 7, 2017 surrounded by his family at his home in Virginia Beach, Va. after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer. He was 70 years old.

A Vancouver, British Columbia native, Whyte began his STIHL career in 1971, working as a regional manager for STIHL American, the same company where his father had worked. Whyte moved up the ranks at STIHL in the U.S. and at the age of 34, led STIHL’s expansion and operations in Canada. In 1992, Whyte returned to the United States as president of STIHL Inc. During Whyte’s tenure as president, he led the company from a moderately-known brand to the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America.* After serving STIHL for more than 45 years and leading STIHL Inc. for 23 years, Whyte retired, and was named sole director and chairman of the Board of Directors for STIHL Inc. and influenced STIHL strategy worldwide.

“We, and the larger STIHL family, are very saddened by the news of Fred’s passing,” said Bjoern Fischer, president of STIHL Inc. “He will be remembered for his extraordinary leadership, passion and personal connections he had with both his customers and his employees.”

In addition to Whyte’s service to STIHL, he was also a well-respected leader of both the outdoor power equipment industry nationwide and the local Hampton Roads community. He served as chairman of the board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and president of the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association (PPEMA).

In 2015, the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) recognized Whyte with the Frank Armstrong III Service Award for his contributions to the Virginia manufacturing sector and the association. He was also named honorary member of the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA). In 2016, Whyte was honored by the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates with a joint resolution outlining his successful tenure with STIHL Inc.  

He was a member of Old Dominion University’s Board of Visitors and served as rector from 2013-2014. He also served on the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Children’s Health Foundation Board of Directors.

During his retirement Whyte stated, “I often say history is a great business teacher. And after working for more than four decades in this industry, I can confirm that substance wins out over style, every time.”

According to Fischer, “Fred Whyte was a man who had both substance and style and we are forever thankful for his leadership of our organization.”

Whyte was an avid sports fan, outdoor enthusiast and like man
y true Scotsman, played the bagpipes. He is survived by his wife Karen, their two children, Jean and John (wife Stacy) and their twin granddaughters, Klarise and Isla.

*"Number one selling brand" is based on syndicated Irwin Broh Research as well as independent consumer research of 2009-2016 U.S. sales and market share data for the gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment category combined sales to consumers and commercial landscapers.

About STIHL Inc.

STIHL Inc. manufactures the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America,* as well as the number one selling brand of chain saws in the world. STIHL is also the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment among U.S. landscape professionals.** STIHL products are sold through servicing power equipment retailers from coast to coast – not big box stores. Located in Virginia Beach, Va., STIHL Inc., the headquarters for U.S. operations for the worldwide STIHL Group, exports to over 90 countries around the world; and the majority of STIHL products sold in America are also built in America.*** STIHL products sold through U.S. STIHL dealers are for distribution in the United States only. For more information or for the name of a local STIHL retailer, call toll free 1-800-GO STIHL (1-800-467-8445), visit STIHLusa.com or text your zip code to 78445.

*"Number one selling brand" is based on syndicated Irwin Broh Research as well as independent consumer research of 2009-2016 U.S. sales and market share data for the gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment category combined sales to consumers and commercial landscapers. **“Number one selling” claim based on 2007-2016 syndicated Irwin Broh Research of the U.S. professional landscaper market. ***A majority of STIHL gasoline-powered units are built in the United States from domestic and foreign parts and components.

STIHL is pleased to support the work of Independent We Stand, the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund), International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), National FFA, National Association of Landscape Professionals, the National Recreation and Parks Association, the National Association of State Park Directors and the North American Retail Hardware Association.

For information on job opportunities with STIHL Inc., please go to www.stihlcareers.com. STIHL is an EEO and drug-free work environment. 

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