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STIHL Distributor Stan Crader Delivers Landmark Executive-in-Residence Lecture

By Noell Saunders

"Maintain your integrity at all times, even if it costs you a job. If you lose your integrity, that's the one thing you can't buy."

That was the advice that Stan Crader, an author and president of Crader Distributing, recently gave students during the Landmark Executive-in-Residence speaker series at Old Dominion University on Feb 13.

Crader, a Missouri native, held a number of jobs during his childhood, including delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, sawmilling and maintenance. Ultimately, he found a passion for manufacturing with his father's company, Crader Distributing.

"One of the big points in Stan's story was how important integrity is," said Jeff Tanner, dean of the Strome College of Business. "That exemplifies the meaning behind the Landmark Executive-in-Residence series: How can we bring successful businesses with integrity to our students?"

Crader Distributing began in 1944 as an international harvester selling agricultural machinery. It eventually became one of the oldest distributors of STIHL products. STIHL Inc.'s U.S. headquarters is in Virginia Beach.

"We sold about five chainsaws a year, and now we're close to selling 600,000 this year," Crader said.

Crader's career aspirations and childhood experiences inspired his newest book, "STIHL American," which covers the humble beginnings of the German manufacturer and its rise to one of the world's leading sellers of outdoor power equipment.

"STIHL American" is on sale at the University Village Bookstore. The proceeds will go to the Fred Whyte Memorial Scholarship. Whyte, who died in July 2017, was a former rector of ODU's Board of Visitors and former president of STIHL.

"I was five years old when we became a distributor," Crader said. "I remember seeing the chainsaws come in on the train. I also had a chance to visit the STIHL headquarters in Germany when I was 10. I watched the company grow to what it is today."

The Landmark Executive-in-Residence speaker series is designed to enrich students' entrepreneurial spirit, their awareness of the success that can be built on their academic experience and their understanding of the importance of leading with integrity.

The series is dedicated to bringing accomplished business leaders, authors and internationally known speakers to campus to share their history and vision, giving students the opportunity to learn firsthand the strategies and experiences that forge great ethical global leaders.

Established in 2001, the series is funded by an endowment from a group of former Landmark Communications executives in honor of Frank Batten Sr., Landmark's founder and the first rector of the ODU Board of Visitors.

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