University Relations and Communications

College of Business hosts STIHL president as Executive in Residence

March 15, 2011



Brenda Dockery, College of Business, 657-2212
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


Fred J. Whyte to present talk on business strategies and success on Wednesday, March 23 at MSU Billings


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Fred J. Whyte, president of STIHL Inc., the top-selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America, will be at Montana State University Billings next week serving as Executive in Residence for the College of Business.


Fred WhyteAs part of Whyte’s visit and work with the university, Whyte will give a free public lecture about business strategies and his company on Wednesday, March 23. The talk, open to all students, faculty, staff and the Billings business community, will be at 10:30 a.m. in Library 231 on the MSU Billings main campus.


Dr. Tim Wilkinson, interim dean for the MSU Billings College of Business, is familiar with Whyte and the success of STIHL. The company was featured prominently in the award-winning book “The Distribution Trap: Keeping Your Innovations from Becoming Commodities” that Wilkinson co-wrote with Andrew R. Thomas.


Aside from his public presentation on Wednesday, Whyte will also attend different classes at MSU Billings to talk with students and faculty.


Whyte is responsible for the overall management of STIHL’s U.S. operation, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va.  Prior to his appointment in 1992, he was the president of STIHL Limited, the company’s Canadian affiliate.


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 Inc., which experienced 17 consecutive years of annual increases in sales and revenue prior to the recent recession.


Also, under Whyte’s leadership, STIHL achieved the status as the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld  outdoor power equipment in America.


A native of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Whyte graduated magna cum laude from Seattle University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Iowa.


Presently, Whyte is the chairman of the board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and serves on the Old Dominon University Board of Visitors, as well as the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Children’s Health Foundation board of directors.


Previously, he served as president of the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association (PPEMA).

For more information on the Executive in Residence speech, contact Brenda Dockery at 657-2212 or by e-mail at


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