Stihl Inc.’s U.S. president, sales VP exit company
Memo indicates executive shakeup at Virginia Beach-based operations
The president of Stihl Inc.’s Virginia Beach-based U.S. operations, Bjoern Fischer, is leaving the chainsaw and power equipment manufacturer by mutual agreement Friday, according to an internal company memo obtained by Virginia Business. Also departing the German outdoor power equipment manufacturer is its vice president of U.S. sales and marketing, Nick Jiannas.
The letter sent Thursday from Stihl’s Executive Council leadership quotes correspondence from the Stihl Group’s German headquarters, saying that Fischer and Jiannas “will leave the Stihl Group by mutual agreement on 8th October 2021. The success that our company has enjoyed over the past several years is due in large part to their leadership, dedication and commitment. We wish them both all success in their future endeavors.”
According to the memo, Fischer’s duties will be shared temporarily by Mark Scavillo, vice president of finance and information services, and Lorraine Amesbury Holder, vice president of operations. Jiannas’ job will be filled on an interim basis by Murray Bishop, director of sales.
A spokesman for the company’s U.S. operations confirmed the contents of the memo Friday and said that despite the change in leadership, the company will continue to be based in Virginia Beach, where approximately 1,900 members of Stihl’s 2,100-person U.S. workforce are employed.
“Bjoern and Nick have left to pursue other endeavors,” Stihl spokesman Roger Phelps said Friday. “I know the entire Stihl family thank them. There is a succession plan in place.”
Fischer is also vice president of finance on the Hampton Roads Chamber Board of Trustees and a member of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute board, as well as part of Old Dominion University’s Strome College of Business’ executive advisory council. He did not respond immediately to a request for comment Friday.
A native of South Africa, Fischer was named Stihl’s U.S. president in January 2016 after joining the company in 2012 and has appeared twice in Virginia Business’ annual Virginia 500 list of the most influential business people in the state. His LinkedIn page on Friday showed his tenure as Stihl’s president ending in October.
Jiannas was named vice president in July 2012, having joined the company in 1995. He served in multiple leadership roles both in Europe and Virginia Beach.
The letter does not go into specifics about why Fischer and Jiannas were let go but notes that work has begun to find permanent replacements. Phelps did not specify what was the cause behind the change in leadership. “They agreed mutually to part ways for the good of the company, and all operations continue as normal,” he said. “Changes in management happen all of the time.”
According to the memo, Nikolas Stihl, chairman of the Stihl Group’s advisory and supervisory boards, “made it clear that the company and the Stihl family stand firmly behind the entire Stihl organization in the U.S., including outstanding employees, branches, distributors and the nationwide network of Stihl dealers. He also made it clear that the deep, trust-based collaboration we have with our suppliers is an essential part of the business and we will continue to foster and grow those relationships.”
The memo continues, “The Stihl family and the entire leadership of the Stihl Group see tremendous potential for further growth in the U.S. and continued investment will be made in the U.S. operations going forward.”