The STIHL story, part 1 (1926-1945):
The saw should be carried to the tree,
and not the tree to the saw
When Andreas Stihl developed his first chainsaw in 1926, his aim and vision was to “make life in the outdoors easier“. It’s following that vision that has made STIHL the world’s best-selling chainsaw brand since 1971.
Since the company was founded, it has developed from a one-man operation into an international manufacturer of chainsaws and outdoor power tools. In a series of four blog posts, we’ll give you an insight into the eventful history of the company. Part 1 here, covers the period from 1926 to 1945.
Andreas Stihl, “father of the chainsaw”
When Andreas Stihl opened his engineering office in Stuttgart in 1926, forestry work was a significant challenge – before it was transported to the sawmills, the only way to fell a tree was with an axe or handsaw. Having graduated in mechanical engineering, Stihl often visited sawmills before starting his own business as a dealer for wood-processing machines. However, one day, he struck upon a landmark idea: the saw should be carried to the tree, and not the tree to the saw. This was the key moment that he decided to pursue the dream of designing a transportable, powerful chainsaw.
The idea ultimately lead to the production of a real product. Developed in his small workshop in Stuttgart, the first chainsaw from the “A. Stihl Engineering Office” was a two-man electric saw.
The first petrol saw then followed in 1929. As the suppliers he was using ran into technical issues, he decided to manufacture the parts himself. Success came quickly – in his own words, the saws were “grabbed out of his hands.”
(The first two-man petrol chainsaw (46kg/6 hp), introduced in 1929)
Company expansion and exports abroad
In the years that followed, Andreas Stihl regularly launched new models into the market. What started as a small engineering office rapidly turned into a sizeable factory. A major relocation took place from the centre of Stuttgart to the more industrial suburb of Bad Cannstatt. The business continued to thrive, even during the Great Depression that started in 1929 – as an inventive businessman, Stihl offset the falling sales of chainsaws in the early 1930’s by producing washing machines.
As a pioneer of globalisation, Andreas Stihl also prioritised the export business and entered new markets in the United States and Canada.
STIHL has a long tradition of voluntary employee benefits
Voluntary employee benefits have a long tradition at STIHL, and in 1940 the company set up its own apprentice department and workshop.
By 1941, Andreas Stihl employed 340 people. Even then, the employees benefited from a Christmas bonus (in place since 1935) and a pension fund. Focusing on the wellbeing of his workforce was very important to the entrepreneur.
To this day, the company continues to be strongly committed to its employees, society and the environment. The corporate culture that has grown over decades is built on a foundation of trusting partnerships, respect and fairness.
The Second World War
Unsurprisingly, the outbreak of the Second World War had a serious impact on the company. In October 1944, the factory in Bad Cannstatt was completely destroyed in an air raid. The Allies also detained Andreas Stihl in a labour camp in Bavaria, however, following a denazification tribunal trial, he was successfully discharged.
Continue the journey with Part 2 of our 90 Years of STIHL celebration.
Become part of the STIHL story!
We are celebrating 90 years of STIHL. To celebrate our company’s anniversary, show us what connects you to our brand. Upload a photo of yourself to our campaign page and become part of our history! history.stihl.co.uk