Hans Peter Stihl doesn’t get excited easily, even when he is zooming around on his BMW motorcycle or watching lumberjacks compete in the Stihl Timbersports championships. Awards, even the Diesel Medal for innovation, don’t do much for him either.
And when a crew shot a film for the Handelsblatt Hall of Fame of family-owned businesses, the 82-year-old chainsaw tycoon positively relaxed in front of the camera. He’s been there before.
Mr. Stihl is not only a successful businessman who turned his chainsaws into a global brand and near €3 billion ($3.5 billion) business. He has also been a scourge of the unions and has fought many public battles on behalf of German industry.
As the lead negotiator of the state of Baden-Württemberg’s Employers’ Association of the Metal and Electrical Industry, he had a bust-up with unions during wage disputes. “When IG Metall (the metalworkers’ union) wanted to expand the workers’ share of the profits, it became chaotic,” he said as he described his motivation to intervene.
“I am not a friend of the unions,” he explained, but adds that he is a “supporter of free collective bargaining.”