Outdoor hand-held power equipment producer Stihl Inc. will expand injection molding capacity as part of a massive enlargement of its Virginia Beach, Va., operation.
In total, Stihl will spend $78.4 million on its Virginia Beach expansion, the largest-ever single investment for the company and its German parent. The project will add 150 jobs in Virginia Beach, pushing the company's total U.S. employment to about 1,800.
Stihl will spend about $3.5 million to $4 million to add at least 12 injection molding presses, estimated Peter Mueller, executive vice president of operations, in a telephone interview. The firm expects to buy a mix of Engel and Milacron machines with clamping forces of about 400-500 tons.
Mueller said his firm also will build a molding area with 40,000 square feet of space to complement its 70,000-square-foot molding facility. The addition will cost more than $3 million and will be configured for further expansion, he said. In addition, Stihl will add extrusion capacity to make nylon lines for weed and grass trimmers.
Stihl's U.S. business is growing in existing hand-held equipment product lines and through new chain saws and trimmers. Growth is split between U.S. sales and exports to more than 80 countries. It makes the world's most popular brand of chain saws.
Assistance from state and local agencies, including worker training assistance, helped the Virginia Beach plant win out over potential expansion sites in Brazil, Germany and Switzerland. Stihl will break ground on the expansion this quarter and complete it by November or December, Mueller said.
Stihl does most of its molding in-house to save costs and control quality. It does, however, rely on outside molders for as much as 20 percent of its general molding demands. Stihl is the U.S. subsidiary of Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG of Waiblingen, Germany.