Business Icon And Heir To The Kohler Faucet Fortune Dies At 83

CBS 58

Back in 1873, the Kohler company was founded by an Austrian immigrant named John Michael Kohler and his business partner Charles Silberzahn. Silberzahn eventually sold his minority share in the company to Kohler, and it has remained a privately held family business ever since.

Herb Kohler was the great-grandson of John Michael Kohler, and he was also the third member of the Kohler family to serve at the company’s CEO. Herb was CEO of Kohler for 43 years. After that, he served as executive chairman of the company.

Herb grew an already profitable business into much more. When he first became CEO, the company made about $133 million in revenue each year. When he retired in 2015, the revenue was up to about $6 billion, and in 2021, it reached $8 billion. He also acquired other competitor companies including Sterling Faucet, McGuire Furniture and Baker Furniture. In addition, he’s responsible for the advertising campaign “The Bold Look of Kohler.”

Herb Kohler died this past Saturday. He was 83 years old. His cause of death has not been disclosed.

Watch the video below to learn more about Kohler’s life and career.

Besides golf courses and business deals, Herb Kohler also opened a five-diamond, five-star resort in Wisconsin back in 1981. The resort is called the American Club Resort, and it was built where company employees used to live during the 20th century.

Kohler didn’t just make business deals. He also tried out everything from whirlpools to golf courses. He even imported black sheep from Ireland to make one of his golf courses feel authentic.

Herb attended Yale University, and shortly after graduation, he joined the family business. He started as a research and development technician. In 1967, he became the company’s director, and in 1968, after his father passed away, he became VP of operations. In 1971, he became the company’s executive vice president, and he was promoted to CEO in 1972. In addition, he became the company’s president in 1974. In all, he worked for Kohler for 61 years. When he retired in 2015, his son, David, replaced him as president and CEO.

In a statement, Herb’s family said, “His zest for life, adventure, and impact inspires all of us. We traveled together, celebrated together and worked together. He was all in, all the time, leaving an indelible mark on how we live our lives today and carry on his legacy.”