Friday, April 4, 2014

Learn How to Build Your Community at Go Local, Grow Local Conference

By Jeff Milchen, Co-director, American Independent Business Alliance

Note from STIHL: We are pleased to announce that we are sponsoring two scholarships for business owners to attend the Go Local, Grow Local conference in Minneapolis, May 8-11, 2014. To be considered, fill out this brief form by Wednesday, April 9; winners will be announced April 15. (Seven meals are included; travel and lodging are the responsibility of participants.)   STIHL is proud to team with AMIBA to spread many great resources that are helping local independent businesses thrive in the face of ever-greater challenges

The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) is a non-profit organization helping

people implement grassroots initiatives to support community-based businesses, build local wealth and prevent the loss of independent businesses. While AMIBA made its name providing comprehensive support for communities seeking to execute high-impact "buy local" campaigns, they also help communities develop cooperative branding, group purchasing and other activities to help independent businesses gain economies of scale and compete successfully.

Every two years, AMIBA hosts a national conference to connect the more than eighty Independent Business Alliances around the country, as well as leading independent business champions and people seeking to instigate action in their city or town. This year, the Go Local, Grow Local Conference hits Minneapolis from May 8-11. The event is filled with highly-interactive sessions

designed to give participants actionable ideas and the tools needed to implement them in their business or community.

Featured speakers include Michael Shuman, author of The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition; Becky McCray of the popular Small Biz Survival blog and Jeff Milchen, AMIBA's co-founder and author of "Building Buy Local Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending" (now freely available in pdf format).

The gathering will explore topics such as:
·  Turning your customers into evangelists;
·  Building opportunities to invest in Main St., not Wall St.;
·  Localizing institutional and government purchasing;
·  Developing an effective "buy local" campaign or Independent Business Alliance; and much more.

If you're not free to travel at that time, consider arranging a local presentation and workshop for your own community. Uniquely, all AMIBA's workshops are led by people with years of experience actually organizing local Alliances and assisting many more communities since to implement pro-local business initiatives.

AMIBA exists to promote the prosperity of independent businesses by providing resources and guidance in building and strengthening “buy local” initiatives in local communities across the country. Please contact us to discuss how we can help your community.












These window decals are two of many ready-to-use "buy local" materials for business owners available from AMIBA. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Into Shopping Local

By: Sarah McIntosh, Project Coordinator, Independent We Stand

 Spring is in the air, and in the hardware and home improvement industry, that means busy season is upon us. Thanks to continued support from STIHL and its independent dealers, Independent We Stand is introducing a new Locals Only search engine and mobile apps – just in time for the spring fix-it season. Throughout this season and beyond, small business owners and customers can take advantage of these powerful new tools to connect with one another and help support their local community.

A growing number of consumers want to shop local, and an overwhelming majority of these potential customers go online to find places to do so. The Locals Only search engine is the only tool of its kind for millions of independent businesses. If you are a small business owner, you can make the most of this opportunity by registering your business for free in this ever-growing database of small businesses. This will get you in front of thousands of consumers hungry to ‘buy local’.  To help your business stand out in the crowded marketplace, consider upgrading to a more robust premium membership listing to reach even more consumers during the spring-cleaning season and all year long.

When local-conscious customers aren’t searching on their desktop or laptop computers for small businesses, they’re looking on the go. While these customers navigate the sea of chain stores on a busy day of errands, the Independent We Stand mobile apps point them in the direction of the nearest local business that has what they’re looking for. As a member of Independent We Stand, your business will automatically be listed in the apps. Download the iPhone or Android app for free to find locally owned businesses in your community for all your personal and professional needs.

Whether you’re a consumer or a small business owner, make the most of the busy spring season. Start taking advantage of Independent We Stand’s Locals Only search and mobile apps to get the best lawn in the neighborhood, the perfect paint color for your renovation, and most importantly, find love in all the local places.

 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hands-on Experience & Classroom Training with “Dual Style” Apprenticeship Model



By Josh Moon, Apprentice Instructor, STIHL Inc. 
There’s a shortage of skilled workers across the United States and according to Economic Modeling Specialists International, more than half of the current workforce is over the age of 45. That means in a few decades, the demand for skilled workers will be even greater, as the current workforce hits retirement.

At STIHL Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va., we teach current employees new skills that broaden their qualifications and prepare them for a variety of new skilled worker positions. Our apprenticeship program is adapted from the German model of vocational training. In this “dual system,” trainees split their time between hands-on training and classroom education.

Since 2012, the German Embassy in the U.S. has been working with German and American businesses to spread the word about dual-style training systems like the program at STIHL Inc. The program, called the Skills Initiative, is designed to provide local training and education on reinvigorating workforce training systems to better match Germany’s successful dual training style. The success of our apprenticeship program is one of the many reasons STIHL Inc. was asked to participate in the Skills Initiative.

Recently, STIHL Inc. apprentice Daniel Swartzel and I went on the road with The Skills Initiative Road Show. Also along for the ride were several members of the Department of Economics at the German Embassy, as well as Norbert Fuhrmann, an educator from Germany.



Our goal during the Skills Initiative Road Show was to showcase this dual system to key leadership and students across the East Coast and Midwest. Through a series of roundtable discussions, we spoke with business leaders, government officials, education representatives and students in six different cities from Georgia to New York. We told them about the German dual-style training system and how we adapted it to fit our needs.

It’s a system that works quite well at STIHL Inc. Apprentices gain exposure to many different job skills and receive broad training. They work with a variety of machines including PLC’s, pneumatics circuits, electrical circuits, robotics and close-tolerance production machining. This hands-on education takes longer, but definitely pays off in the long run. A partnership with a local community college provides apprentices with an opportunity to receive their associate degree.

At STIHL Inc., the apprenticeship prepares our future employees to handle the many different tasks and high expectations that we have. Hopefully, it will help prepare us for the predicted shortage of skilled workers that could cause problems for other companies in the coming years.
To learn more about The Skills Initiative Road Show visit: http://www.germany.info/skillsroadshow or watch the video.

To learn about employment opportunities at STIHL Inc., visit: http://www.stihlcareers.com




Friday, March 7, 2014

Advice on Choosing Your STIHL Chain Saw.


Whether you want to cut up firewood, do tree maintenance or just go about some creative do-it-yourself (DIY), a chain saw can be a great tool to help get the job done.  But how do you choose the right saw for your needs from the wide variety available? Is it always better to have more power? What features are right for you? In this article we have outlined some things for you to consider before purchasing your saw. You can also use our online chainsaw selectoror you can watch our video on how to choose the right chainsaw for you. Of course your STIHL Dealer is still your best resource for advice.  And for expert advice on the proper and safe use of your chain saw watch our video on chain saw safety, operations and maintenance.

Basics: 
A chain saw consists of three basic elements: the powerhead (or engine), a guide bar and a saw chain. For optimal performance it is important to match these three elements.  You should know that not only does STIHL design and manufacture our powerheads, but we also produce our own guidebars, and we are the only gasoline-powered chainsaw manufacturer that manufactures our own saw chain.  You can learn more about why we produce our own saw chain on our website.  Because these three elements are designed to work together, we recommend that you only use STIHL manufactured guidebars and chain for your STIHL chainsaw.

The powerhead: Type and level of performance

When considering what model of chainsaw you want to purchase, first you have to think about what it will be used for. Will you be doing light cutting close to your home? That could mean an electric socket would be nearby, and an electric model might be the right choice. For small gardens, a battery-powered model might be ideal, combining the quiet, zero-emission properties of an electric motor with the cordless advantages of a gasoline-powered saw. If you plan to use the saw for heavier cutting on larger wooded property, then a gasoline-powered model offers the necessary flexibility.     

STIHL has a wide range of different saws for a variety of applications. In general we categorize them into three categories; Homeowner, Farm and Ranch, and Professional.  Each category has a range of models to choose from so that you can get the right mix of power, and features.  And you can choose from a variety of optional features like STIHL Easy2Start™, or the STIHL M-Tronic™ Engine Management SystemFor a side-by-side comparison of our models take a look at our chain saw comparison chart.

The guide bar: longer is not always better


A standard piece of "advice" that you get at a “big box” store is to get a saw with certain length guide bar as if somehow that indicates the power and quality of a saw.  The truth is that the length of the bar is no indication of the power of the saw, and while a long guide bar may look impressive – it may not be right for your model saw and in fact may negatively impact your performance. The longer the bar the more power is required to keep the saw chain moving.  For maximum effectiveness the cutting length of the guide bar has to suit the cutting application and, more importantly, the power of the engine.  Most homeowner applications can be done with a guide bar from 12” to 16”.  STIHL guide bars are designed and manufactured specifically for STIHL chain saws and all come standard with STIHL's Ematic™ Bar Lubrication System. To be sure you have the right sized guide bar for your unit you can refer to the individual chain saw model page on our website.

The saw chain: where the bark meets the bar.

Just like a good set of tires enhances your car’s performance, the right chain can make all the difference in how your saw performs.  STIHL produces all of our saw chain at our facility in Switzerland.  There is a real difference in the way we make our chain as compared to our competitors.  Whether it is the type of steel alloy, chromed cutters, hardened rivets, or pre-stretching, STIHL chains are designed to deliver maximum performance and comfort.  Homeowner and Farm and Ranch models are designed to work with reduced vibration and low kickback chain. That makes the saw more comfortable to use and improves safety. If you are working in very dirty conditions then you may want to consider carbide-tipped chains. They stay sharp up to four times longer than standard chains.  You can learn more about how STIHL saw chain is identified on our website.

Personal Protective Equipment: Don’t leave home without it.


Watch the video on how protective chaps work
It is a great privilege being the number one selling brand of chain saws worldwide. But we view it as an even greater responsibility to help keep our customers protected while using them. So whether you’re cutting at home or on the job, stay sharp and suit up with STIHL chain saw protective apparel. Our chain saw protective apparel is made with multiple layers of Engtex®, a cut-retardant material designed to clog up the sprocket to stop the chain on a gasoline-powered chain saw. This reduces the risk or severity of injury to the body parts covered by the Engtex® layers in the event of contact with the rotating saw chain.  STIHL also has protective forestry boots, gloves that provide good grip and great comfort while working, head and face protection, hearing protection and eye protection, all in a variety of styles to match your personal needs. 

Slick Advice:

When you own a STIHL, you care about quality and demand the best performance. Keep your 2-cycle engine in peak condition with a regular maintenance routine and premium-quality STIHL oils, premixed fuels and lubricants

For more information and advice visit www.stihlusa.com