Since 1974, the plant in Wil, Switzerland, has been manufacturing chains for chain saws. The subsidiary celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014, and public figures were among the people in attendance. Let’s take a closer look at the plant and its recipe for success.
Heidi Hanselmann, the president of the St. Gallen cantonal government, paid tribute to the chain plant’s performance in her speech: “The company started with six employees and two machines. Today, STIHL is one of the largest and most important private-sector employers in the canton.” Dr. Bertram Kandziora, the Chairman of the Executive Board, emphasised that more and more customers worldwide were choosing STIHL saw chains, including customers of other chain saw brands.
Good conditions, top quality
The constant increase in production volumes has led to investments aimed at supporting expansion. Joachim Zappe, Managing Director in Wil, is particularly pleased this and he attributes the development to a number of factors, including the “excellent conditions for our very special production” in Wil. “Most importantly, we have excellent skilled workers here – and the Swiss are known for their reliability and precision. This is a major plus for the quality of our chain saws.”
More than 40 years of growth
In its 40 years in business, the chain plant has grown from a six-man operation to a company with two sites that employ around 900 people today. The second production site was opened in the nearby town of Bronschhofen (St. Gallen) in 2008. To show its appreciation of its staff, STIHL threw a big employee party on the company premises to commemorate the plant’s 40th anniversary in August 2014. More than 1,000 guests attended the celebration.
The plant’s strategic importance
In his speech, Dr. Nikolas Stihl reiterated the importance of the Swiss subsidiary for the group: “The chain plant is of tremendous strategic importance to STIHL. To this day, we are the only gasoline powered chain saw manufacturer that makes not only the drive, but also the guide bar and the saw chain – the entire cutting attachment. This is a crucial competitive advantage.”
“STIHL Sondermaschine”: developed by STIHL, for STIHL
Many of the machines used in production at the plant in Wil bear a sign reading “STIHL Sondermaschine”. Specially developed in-house by STIHL, these high-performance machines are used to manufacture saw chains. They guarantee top quality and global success. Wil is more than just a manufacturing location. It is also a development and research partner for the company’s headquarters in Germany. “Our chains can only remain the best in the world if we continue to stay one step ahead of the competition and keep producing top-quality chains,” Joachim Zappe says.