The Kohler Co. Board of Directors has elected President and Chief Executive Officer David Kohler to the additional role of Chair of the Board, following the passing of Executive Chairman Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. on 3 September at age 83.
The off-highway machine engine maker's Board of Directors had previously undertaken a comprehensive succession planning process to ensure an orderly transition of leadership to guide the global, privately held organisation.
David will Chair the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, in addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer, which will include full-scope responsibility for the three business groups of Kohler Co. (Kitchen & Bath, Power, Hospitality) and all enterprise functions.
A Kohler Co. employee for over 31 years, David was elected to the role of President and Chief Executive Officer in 2015, having previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer since 2009. He is the fourth generation of Kohler family leadership since the company's inception in 1873 and only the ninth person to lead the company over the last 149 years.
"The Board is confident in David's deep experience, strong leadership, and passion for bold innovation to continue driving our company forward well into the future. David has proven to be an inspiring and forward-thinking leader for our associates around the world, including in times of uncertainty throughout the global financial crisis, the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and a variety of other challenges," the company stated.
"David understands the importance of developing a strong culture of dedicated associates passionate about innovating, inspiring, and delighting our customers. He draws upon the legacy of past Kohler leaders and our company's established framework – grounded in our mission and guiding principles – to ensure company stability, sustained growth, and long-term success."
"I learned so much from my father, including a tireless strong work ethic, leading with candour and humility, and always driving to innovate. He believed that you must have passion for whatever you do in life if you want to be successful. Working alongside him for decades showcased the impact of embracing an entrepreneurial spirit, not being afraid to fail, and always striving for accuracy and consistency. He left an indelible mark on me personally and professionally," David said of his father Herbert V. Kohler, Jr.
Under David's leadership, the company surpassed US$8 billion in annual revenues in 2021. The organisation has experienced substantial global expansion in both cutting-edge manufacturing facilities and immersive kitchen and bath showrooms, including the global portfolio of KOHLER Experience Centers and significant growth in e-commerce and digital capabilities. His leadership has helped KOHLER become the number-one kitchen and bath brand in the U.S. and China and the number-one international brand in India.
The Power Group has experienced sustained growth globally – both organic and through M&A, including the acquisition of U.K.-based Clarke Energy in 2015. The company continues to broaden its expansion of clean energy and distributed energy options with new products and the 2021 acquisitions of Curtis Instruments (electric vehicle controls) and Heila Technologies (microgrid software controls).
David has also overseen the increased focus and investment in the company's digital transformation and its foray into the Smart Home space with a robust roster of connected products for kitchen and bath spaces.
While David appropriately credits his father Herb and hall-of-fame golf designer Pete Dye for putting the State of Wisconsin on the map as a global golf destination, he continues to broaden the company's influence on the game on an international scale. He served as General Chair of the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which at the time was the highest revenue championship in history. David also served as General Chair of the 43rd Ryder Cup in 2021 also at Whistling Straits, which many golf experts have proclaimed as the best-ever in the international event's storied 94-year history.
When it comes to making a commitment to sustainability, David led the company to be among the first to establish a Net Zero 2035 goal across its operations in 2008. In the years since, the organisation has been actively tracking and substantially reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste across operations while investing in renewable energy.
David believes strongly that companies and economies must advance both industry and the environment, and managing this balance is critical. In June of this year, the company issued its first-ever Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Report highlighting the company's increased reporting transparency, goals, and progress across environmental sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, and social impact. "Even as a private company, we are accountable for the promises we make and achieving a global standard of excellence in everything we do," David said.
As chair of the organisation's Executive Leadership Diversity Board, David oversees the objectives and progress toward achieving them. "Every associate must have the opportunity to achieve their full potential in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment. It requires our ongoing investment, focus, and commitment to continue leading boldly," he said.