The Kohler Co. Board of Directors has elected president and CEO David Kohler to the additional role of chair of the board, following the passing of executive chairman Herbert V. Kohler Jr. on Sept. 3 at age 83. The board of directors had previously undertaken a comprehensive succession planning process to ensure an orderly transition of leadership to guide the global, privately held organization.
Kohler will chair the board of directors and executive committee, in addition to his role as CEO, which will include full scope responsibility for the three business groups of Kohler Co. (Kitchen & Bath, Power, Hospitality) and all enterprise functions.
Kohler has been with Kohler Co. for more than 31 years and was elected to the role of president and CEO 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 past 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,” said the company in a statement. “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. 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 candor and humility, and always driving to innovate,” said Kohler. “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.”
Under David Kohler’s leadership, the company surpassed $8 billion in annual revenues in 2021. The organization 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, as well as 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, the company said, and number-one international brand in India.
Growth in the Power Group
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 Kohler 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.
When it comes to making a commitment to sustainability, Kohler 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 organization has been actively tracking and substantially reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste across operations while investing in renewable energy. Kohler 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 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,” Kohler said.
As chair of the organization’s Executive Leadership Diversity Board, Kohler 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.
David Kohler started at Kohler Co. working in every manufacturing division on the front lines. He rejoined Kohler as director – fixtures marketing in 1993 after working at Dayton Hudson Corp. Since then, he has served in progressive roles at Kohler including vice president sales, sector president – K&B Americas, group president – K&B Group, executive vice president, president and chief operating officer, and president and CEO.