Stihl Inc. has kicked off the new year by paying homage to and dedicating its U.S. headquarters’ auditorium to former president Fred J. Whyte. On January 10, 2023, Whyte’s wife, Karen Whyte, and Stihl Inc. president and CEO Terry Horan unveiled the newly named Fred J. Whyte auditorium during an afternoon ceremony.
“Since joining Stihl 10 months ago, I have been overwhelmed by the positive impact Fred Whyte had on this great organization,” expressed Horan. “From Stihl associates to distributors to dealers nationwide, there has never been anything but good things said to me about this man. I strongly believe that his legacy should live on in a more prominent way for all who enter this building, especially those like myself, who never had the good fortune to meet him.”
The Fred J. Whyte Auditorium is located in the 80,000-square-foot Stihl Inc. administration building in Virginia Beach, which opened in October 2019.
Whyte began his Stihl career in 1971 as a regional manager for Stihl American, the same company where his father had worked for nearly two decades. In 1982, the Stihl family asked him to establish Canadian operations for Stihl. After 10 years with Stihl Limited in Canada, he was named Stihl Inc. president in 1992. Whyte served in this role for 23 years and managed the Stihl U.S. operations headquartered in Virginia Beach. Under Whyte’s presidential tenure at Stihl Inc., the company experienced 22 years of annual increases in sales and revenue and became the number-one-selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America, the company notes. He retired from this position in December 2015.
During retirement, he served as sole director and chairman of the board of directors for Stihl Inc. In this advisory role, Whyte provided strategic counsel to the company’s executive council and reported to Stihl International, where he worked closely with the Stihl family in Germany. Whyte passed away in July 2017 at age 70.
“Fred truly enjoyed connecting with people, but when it came to interactions with people at Stihl, it went another level,” Karen Whyte shared. “Fred realized that the success of Stihl depended on the success of the employees, the distributors and Stihl dealers. It was important to him to build relationships with them, to understand their businesses and what they needed to be successful.”
“The year 2023 marks a new chapter in the phenomenal growth of our company and the unique people that contribute to that growth. Mr. Fred Whyte was certainly one of those people throughout his career. This auditorium will forever remind all who enter of who he was and the extraordinary contributions he made to our company’s success,” Horan added.