Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

gordon williams

The Whiz Kid

Response to full-page ads running every month in Chainsaw Age, starting in 1959 by Tull-Williams and subsequently Stihl America continued to pay rich dividends. The single warehouse phone virtually rang off the wall with calls from established Stihl distributors placing orders and those wishing to become distributors for Stihl. Joe Minarik, Mock, by then working part-time for Stihl America took the initiative to have a second phone line installed. Gordon, then being held accountable to a budget with the Stihl’s, a 40% partner, fired Joe for what he thought an extravagant expense. The following day a container of saws arrived… Continue reading

The First Man of Stihl – Sort of

ErnieRoger Maris had recently broken Babe Ruth’s record, much to the dismay of most Yankee fans, they’d preferred that the record stand, and if it was to be broken, let Mantle be the one. Cassius Clay, after cruising to the Gold at the 1960 Olympics, was beginning the long-lasting spar with Howard Cosell, the Russians were building a missile base in Cuba, Bob Dylan was inspired to pen the lyrics to “The Times They are a Changin,’ and Stihl American needed someone focused on sales.

Years later, when a Stihl salesman walked through a dealer’s door, he’d often times be… Continue reading

Stihl in America – Blog 5 – Joe

Joe’s story is important for two reasons—Joe was an essential member of the foundational team of Stihl American, and Joe’s story is typical of the time. People worked hard, adapted, and made their own success. Joe’s story is significant but not necessarily unique. Most Americans are descendants of people who immigrated to America from another country. America is a filtered melting pot of people looking to build a better life for themselves and their family.

Joseph John Mlnarik was born 1896 in the small village of Zilina, state of Trencin, Slovakia. Joe’s family operated a small flour mill and had… Continue reading

Stihl in America – Blog 4 – Persistence

It was men such as Gordon Williams who inspired Norman Vincent Peale to pen “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Gordon, the positive thinker and quintessential relationship builder, immediately reached out to those with whom he was familiar from his days at Estate Equipment and certain to be interested in handling a fine line of precision crafted chainsaws–Stihls. He proudly informed them that he had officially been appointed Stihl’s agent for America. Al Tull, their mentor and silent business partner, provided the operation with temporary warehouse space and walked them through the filings necessary to import product from Germany. Al, near… Continue reading

Stihl in America – Blog 3

1958 – The Dodgers leave Brooklyn, America launches its first satellite, Elvis joins the Army, and two Jersey business partners board a plane at New York’s Idlewild International Airport bound for Germany. Millions were captivated by the first three events; few, other than family, noticed the latter. Gordon Williams and his life-long friend, Harding Smith, had high hopes, charisma, and a business plan. It would take all they had to offer in order to make the deal with Andreas Stihl, the father of the chainsaw.

Idlewild International Airport

Together, Gordon and Harding had more than hope, charisma, and a plan;… Continue reading

Stihl in America Blog 2

At possibly the same time that Andreas Stihl was making his trek across Canada, Gordon Williams was playing football at Ridgewood High in Ridgewood, NJ. His teammates included several who would eventually join him selling Stihl at Stihl America, but that would be nearly twenty years later. Much would occur between Gordon’s high school football days, Andreas’ tenacious trek across Canada, and Stihl America–the most significant being WWII.

Ridgewood High Football Team

Ridgewood High Football Team

In the meantime, Andreas’ many successful sales trips resulted in dramatic growth for A. Stihl Manufacturing in Stuttgart, Germany. Pictured is Andreas standing proudly with his team of… Continue reading

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