The Kohler family has built four significant businesses since founder John Michael Kohler purchased the Sheboygan Union Iron and Steel Foundry in 1873. Construction people know Kohler for its kitchen and bath fixtures. And Golfers know the name because of CEO Herb Kohler’s wonderful golf experiences in Wisconsin and St. Andrew’s in Scotland.
Kohler is the 70th largest private company in America, with 30,000 employees and an annual revenue of $5 billion. One of its newest businesses making gourmet chocolates began with Herb Kohler’s search for the perfect chocolate turtle. Anyone who’s owned a bathroom tap from Kohler knows the company has exacting standards; Kohler applied those same standards to chocolates in 2007, and today it has 55 varieties all approved by Kohler himself.
Of the five companies I’d like to see go public, this would be my favorite because of its diversity of businesses as well as its great history.