STIHL Incorporated recently broke ground on its newest manufacturing facility in Virginia Beach, Va., continuing a two-phase, $78.4 million capital investment that is part of an overall corporate plan to add up to 400 new positions in 2006.

Initially announced in December 2005, the 60,000-square-foot, $20 million structure on London Bridge Road will house manufacturing operations for STIHL chain saw guide bars.

“We are pleased to be able to continue to add jobs here in support of the local and national economies in lieu of outsourcing,” stated Fred Whyte, president of STIHL Inc. “Although we export to over 80 countries, the United States is still the largest single market for our products. Consequently, expanding manufacturing here in Virginia Beach has repeatedly proven to be a sound business decision for STIHL.”

The new factory in Virginia Beach represents the latest step in STIHL’s global manufacturing location strategy that was launched some three decades ago, and complements STIHL existing production units in Brazil, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and a new facility in China, as well as the recently announced addition of a new saw chain plant in Switzerland. “This international network of facilities enables us to offer highly competitive products that deliver excellent value for the money, while at the same time securing jobs,” said Dr. Bertram Kandziora, STIHL’s chairman of the executive board from his office in Waiblingen, Germany.

“The new plants in China and Switzerland and the expansion of our own facility in the U.S. play a key role in optimizing STIHL’s global locations strategy, and in strengthening the competitiveness of the entire STIHL Group” said Whyte. “In the past year, encouraging growth in virtually all of the STIHL group’s markets boosted STIHL employment worldwide by almost 9 percent, and worldwide sales rose 12 percent to EUR 1.8 billion. Obviously, global production capacity needs to increase to keep pace with demand.”

Production at all STIHL manufacturing locations worldwide is conducted by wholly-owned STIHL subsidiaries and uses manufacturing expertise from Germany and local sources.

“We have been very fortunate to hire quality personnel from other areas of the U.S. where the economy has caused manufacturing shutdowns and layoffs,” said Whyte. “New positions created by the guide bar expansion include stamping machine operators, maintenance mechanics and tool & die makers, as well as a unit manager and engineers.”

STIHL Inc. opened its first manufacturing plant in Virginia Beach in 1974 with 50 employees. Today, STIHL Inc. has more than 1,700 employees locally and 1,900 nationwide. The STIHL Group has more than 9,000 employees worldwide.

STIHL Inc. manufactures the world’s largest selling brand of chain saws and produces a full line of powerful, lightweight, and versatile handheld outdoor power equipment for homeowners and professional users.