That’s Koch pronounced “Coke” and it’s the surname of the family that heads one of the — if not the — world’s largest private company, Koch Industries, Inc. Chances are you have never heard of it. If so, that’s no accident. The company does not go in for self-pats on the back or horn-tooting. It doesn’t need to, inasmuch as it does not have to answer to Wall Street’s Greek chorus that sets “expectations” for quarterly earnings for publicly traded companies. It considers itself beholden to its customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders in about equal proportion.
Though publicity shy, Koch Industries now owns, through acquisitions, a number of brand names, such as Stainmaster, Dixie Cups and Northern Tissue (toilet paper and paper towels). It is very big in petroleum refining and transportation and has been for years. Today it does about $90 billion a year in 60 countries with a workforce of 80,000.
Its beginnings were humble. After Fred C. Koch graduated from MIT in 1925, he was invited by a classmate to join forces in a new company they named Winkler-Koch Engineering in Wichita, Kansas. Within two years Fred Koch had developed a thermal-cracking process for converting heavy oil into gasoline. This was an improvement over the process being used at the time by the major producers. The latter engaged in endless lawsuits. Finally, Koch joined a new refinery company and, through growth and mergers, it became in 1967, Koch Industries, Inc. One of his sons, Charles G., then 32, became the chairman and CEO of the company.
Charles Koch now tells the story of this impressive company and the combination of policies, philosophies, and common sense that make up its “secrets” of success in a new book, The Science of Success. Koch wraps all of these elements together into a copyrighted “brand” and an accompanying acronym — in best MBA-course style. It is “Market-Based Management (MBM).”
He almost puts the reader off in the Preface when he writes (about the “five Dimensions of MGM”), “When these dimensions and their underlying concepts are understood holistically and applied in an integrated, mutually reinforcing manner, the effect is continuously transformative.” Huh? Forget this argle-bargle and skip right to the meat of the book, which is written in a clear, straightforward style by a man wholly committed to free enterprise and democratic capitalism. He understands well a business’s responsibilities to both when it wants to adhere to such a commitment.
In distilled form, here are some of his guiding principles:
* Give credit where it is due.
* Experiment. (“The key is to recognize when we are experimenting and limit the bet accordingly.”)
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?