Charles de Ganahl Koch was born November 1, 1935, and is an American Billionaire businessman. As of November 2022, he was ranked the 13th richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with an estimated net worth of $66 billion.
Charles Koch was born and lives in Wichita, Kansas, one of four sons of Clementine Mary and Fred Chase Koch. Koch’s grandfather, Harry Koch, was a Dutch immigrant who settled in West Texas and founded the Quanah Tribune-Chief newspaper. He was also a founding shareholder of Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway.
In an interview with Warren Cassel Jr., which was recorded on February 16, Koch said that as a child, he didn’t live a privileged lifestyle despite growing up in a wealthy family. Koch said, “My father wanted me to work as if I was the poorest person in the world.”
After attending several private high schools, Koch received his education through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He received a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering in 1957, a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering in 1958, and a second Master of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1960. The focus of his education was to find ways to refine oil. After College, Koch started work at Arthur D. Little, Inc.
Charles Koch has been the co-owner, chairman, and chief executive officer of Koch Industries since 1967. While his late brother David Koch served as executive vice president. Charles and David each owned 42% of the conglomerate. The brothers inherited the business from their father, Fred C. Koch before expanding the business. Originally involved exclusively in oil refining and chemicals, Koch Industries now includes process and pollution control equipment technologies, polymers, fibers, minerals, fertilizers, commodity trading and services, forest and consumer products, and ranching. The businesses produce a wide variety of well-known brands, including Stainmaster carpet, the Lycra brand of spandex fiber, Quilted Northern Tissue, and Dixie Cup.
In 1961 he moved back to Wichita to join his father’s business, Rock Island Oil & Refining Company (now known as Koch Industries). In 1967, he became the president of the business, which was then just a medium-sized oil firm. In the same year, he renamed the firm Koch Industries in honour of his father. Charles’ brothers, Frederick and Bill had inherited stock in Koch Industries. In June 1983, after a legal and boardroom battle, the stakes of Frederick and Bill were bought out for $1.1 billion, making Charles and his younger brother David become majority owners in the company. Despite the settlement, legal disputes continued until May 2001, when CBS News reported that Koch Industries settled for $25 million.
In 2006, Koch Industries generated $90 billion in revenue, a 2000x growth, representing an annual compounded return of 18%. As of 2014, Koch was worth approximately $41.3 billion according to the Forbes 400 list. It’s reported that Koch would regularly work 12-hour days (and spent more time working at home, on weekends, and expected executives at Koch Industries to work weekends as well, allegedly. Koch has been a director of INTRUST Financial Corp since 1982 and a director of Koch Industries Inc. since 1982.
He is the director of resin and fiber company Invista and director of Georgia-Pacific LLC, paper and pulp products. Koch founded/helped found multiple organizations, including the Cato Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Bill of Rights Institute, and the Market-Based Management Institute. He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society.
Koch Industries is the largest privately held company by revenue in the US, according to Forbes. In 2014, Koch was ranked as the ninth richest person in the world by the Hurun Report with an estimated net worth of $36 billion.
Koch also supports a number of libertarian think tanks, including the Institute for Humane Studies and the Ayn Rand Institute, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He also contributes to the Republican Party and Candidates, libertarian groups, and other various charitable and cultural institutions.
Through the Koch Cultural Trust, founded by Charles Koch’s wife, Elizabeth, the Koch family has also funded artistic projects and creative artists. Along with his brother, Koch has been an important founder of think tanks that lobby against environmental regulation.
1. Honorary Doctor of Science, from George Mason University, for his continued support of the economics program at GMU
2. Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Washburn University
3. Honorary Doctor of Laws from Babson College
4. President’s Medal from Wichita State University in 2004
5. The Adam Smith Award from the American Legislative Exchange Council
6. The 1999 Directors’ Award for Global Vision in Energy from the New York Mercantile Exchange
7. The 1999 Governor’s Arts Patrons Award from the Kansas Arts Commission
8. The 2000 National Distinguished Service Award from The Tax Foundation
9. The Spirit of Justice Award from The Heritage Foundation
10. The Entrepreneurial Leadership Award from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
11. The Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews
12. The Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America
13. The Free Enterprise Award from The Council for National Policy
14. The Herman W. Lay Memorial Award from the Association of Private Enterprise Education
15. The Distinguished Service Citation from the University of Kansas
16. Honorary Life Member in the Washburn Law School Association
17. The Distinguished Citizen Award from Kansas State University
18. Induction into the Kansas Oil and Gas Hall of Fame
19. Induction into the Wichita and Kansas Business Halls of Fame
20. Spirit of Excellence Award from The Urban League of Wichita
21. Outstanding Humanitarian Award from the Greater Wichita Chapter of the National Society of Fundraising Executives
22. Wichita City Medallion
23. Wichita State University Entrepreneur in Residence
24. Wichita District Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year
25. The Individual Recognition Award from the Wichita/Sedgwick County Arts and Humanities Council
26. The Uncommon Citizen Award from the Wichita Chamber of Commerce
27. The 2011 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership from the Philanthropy Roundtable
28. The 2011 Defender of Justice award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
29. In 2013, AdvisoryCloud ranked him number two on their Top Chief Executive List
30. In 2022, Ellis Island Honors Society presented Charles Koch with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.