Fred J. Whyte, president of Stihl Incorporated, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., was honored by his peers at the Virginia Industry Forum at the Boar’s Head Inn, Charlottesville, Va. 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.
Whyte began his career with Stihl in 1971, working as a regional manager for Stihl American, the same company where his father had worked for nearly two decades. He became product manager for Stihl Inc. in 1975 and was promoted to national sales manager just four years later. At the age of 34, Whyte became president of Stihl Limited, where he founded the Canadian operation in 1982 and served until he became president of Stihl Incorporated. During his 10 years at Stihl Ltd., the Canadian company achieved increases in sales each year. The tradition of achievement continued under Whyte’s presidential tenure at Stihl Incorporated, including seven consecutive years as the number one-selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America.
During Whyte’s tenure in Virginia Beach, Stihl has led numerous initiatives that have improved the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector and generated innovative workforce development programs. In particular, Whyte’s leadership was instrumental in Virginia Beach becoming the first locality in the Commonwealth to eliminate the machinery and tools tax. Whyte is an industry leader in the area of robotics and automation technology. He also provided an “incubator/laboratory,” where the Dream It Do It Virginia Summer Camp was invented and continues to serve parents, teachers and students statewide.
Whyte serves as board rector on the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors and is on the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Children’s Health Foundation board of directors. Previously, 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).
Whyte will retire at the end of 2015 after 44 plus years with Stihl. He will be remembered for his service to the manufacturing sector, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Manufacturers Association.