Kohler Co. named SCEDC ‘Economic Driver of the Year’

At its Annual Meeting Nov. 18, the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) presented its annual “Sheboygan County Economic Driver of the Year” Award to Kohler Co.

Upon accepting the award President and CEO David Kohler stated, “Kohler’s business success and longevity is due to our focus on meeting the needs of our customers with quality products and services that are second to none. That focus has allowed us to grow and persevere for 142 years to become the global company we are today, and we are proud to be headquartered in Sheboygan County.”

The ‘Sheboygan County Economic Driver of the Year’ Award reflects the Kohler family’s economic and philanthropic impact to the region; the company is the largest employer in the Sheboygan MSA. Founded in 1873 Kohler Co. founder, John Michael Kohler, was an Austrian immigrant, a businessman and a visionary.

He purchased a foundry that produced a variety of cast-iron and steel products. Ten years later, Kohler took a product in his line, heated it to 1700°F and sprinkled it with enamel powder. Placing a picture of it in the center of his one-page catalog, he called it “a horse trough/hog scalder . . . when furnished with four legs will serve as a bathtub.” From that beginning, Kohler was then in the plumbing business. They have grown into one of the world’s premier suppliers of kitchen and bathroom products, tile, furniture and power systems.

Kohler Co. employs over 32,000 worldwide with 50 manufacturing locations across the globe.

Recently, Kohler Co. had phenomenal success of the recent PGA Championship, which broke all previous attendance records and was estimated to have had a $100 million economic impact on the Sheboygan area; expanded the generator and engine manufacturing facilities in the town of Mosel; led innovation in water efficient products to encourage consumers to reduce water use; and planned hospitality business expansions with planned Lodge Kohler hotel in the Green Bay Packer Lambeau Field development project and a fifth world-class golf course in Sheboygan County.

According to Dave Aldag, SCEDC Board Chair, “Kohler Co. is an integral part of the county’s business community. For over a century the Kohler family has distinguished themselves as respected business leaders as well as giving a great deal back to the community. They set the bar high for those that seek to achieve such a positive and lasting impact on our area.”

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