Fred Whyte, former president of Stihl Inc., has died after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Whyte was 70 years old.

A native of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Whyte began his career with Stihl in 1971, working as regional manager for Stihl American, where his father had also worked. Whyte moved up the ranks in the United States and at the age of 34 led Stihl’s expansion and operations in Canada. In 1992, Whyte returned to the U.S. as president of Stihl. During his tenure as president, he led the company from a moderately known brand to becoming the leading seller of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in the U.S., according to several researchers.

After more than 45 years with the company, Whyte recently retired and was named sole director and chairman of the board for Stihl and continued to influence the company’s strategy.

“We and the larger Stihl family are very saddened by the news of Fred’s passing,” said Bjoern Fischer, Stihl president. “He will be remembered for his extraordinary leadership, passion and personal connections he had with both his customers and employees.”

Whyte was also a well-respected leader of the outdoor power equipment industry nationwide, as well as his local community in Hampton Roads, Va. He served as chairman of the board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and president of the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association. In 2015, the Virginia Manufacturers Association recognized Whyte with the Frank Armstrong III Service Award for his contributions to the Virginia manufacturing sector and the association. He was honored by the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates with a joint resolution outlining his successful tenure with Stihl.

During his retirement, Whyte said: “I often say history is a great business teacher. And after working for more than four decades in this industry, I can confirm that substance wins out over style every time.”

Whyte was an avid sports fan, outdoor enthusiast, and like many Scotsmen, played the bagpipes. He is survived by his wife Karen, their two children Jean and John and twin granddaughters.