President of Oxbow
William "Bill" Koch excels at many things. He is recognized as an entrepreneur, world-class sailor, art collector, and philanthropist, but he is, first and foremost, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Oxbow Carbon LLC. Mr. Koch's business acumen has set the stage for the company's unprecedented growth, making it the world's largest marketing company of fuel grade and calcined petroleum coke. With annual sales of $4 billion, and offices across the globe, Oxbow Carbon is the world's largest producer of calcined coke, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of aluminum, and a key supplier of sulphur, sulphuric acid and fertilizers.
Mr. Koch's successes extend beyond the boardroom and into the realms of philanthropy, art, education and the community. He assisted the state of Kansas in formulating an independent crime commission devoted to studying the root causes of juvenile crime; he has founded an innovative private high school where 80 percent of the student body receives academic scholarships; and he has loaned his world class art collection to museums around the globe.
An American Businessman
Mr. Koch comes from a family steeped in entrepreneurship. His grandfather, Harry Koch, a Dutch immigrant, settled in the town of Quanah, Texas, where he started his own newspaper, the Quanah Tribune Chief. Mr. Koch's father, Fred, with the help of a local businessman, went off to study chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and subsequently invented a more efficient way of converting petroleum into gasoline.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Mr. Koch graduated from Culver Military Academy before following in his father's footsteps by attending MIT, where he earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering. While a student at MIT, he was the recipient of the prestigious Roger de Friez Hunneman Prize awarded for outstanding scholarship and research in chemical engineering.
In 1968, Mr. Koch joined his family's business, running the carbon trading group and the chemical and venture capital divisions. He left in 1983 to start his own company in Dedham, Massachusetts which became the basis for Oxbow Carbon LLC. Through the years, Mr. Koch has created a multi-national business which has generated an annual rate of return of nearly 30 percent.
A Strategic Business Approach
Mr. Koch's approach to business stems from his "T3" philosophy - teamwork, technology and talent - to which he credits his victory in the 1992 America's Cup, the most coveted prize in professional sailing. This approach of building employee participation, rewarding teamwork and relying on scientific research to take calculated risks has helped Oxbow Carbon to become a market leader.
In 2003, Mr. Koch led Oxbow through a series of acquisitions, including Applied Industrial Materials Corporation ("AIMCOR"), SSM Coal BV, Great Lakes Carbon LLC and the International Commodities Export Corporation ("ICEC"). Under his guidance, Oxbow Carbon LLC is consistently ranked as one of the top 500 privately held companies in the United States by Forbes Magazine.
Ranked as one of the 25 most generous individuals in the United States by The Journal of Philanthropy in 2011, Mr. Koch may be best remembered for his mission to help less fortunate children receive a high-level education. Mr. Koch's dream began as a child when he learned that a local Quanah businessman had financed his father's college education at MIT. Over the years, Mr. Koch has contributed money, time, and energy to help individuals, teachers and classrooms get the support they have needed. He has donated musical instruments and tutoring help to disadvantaged children in Palm Beach County, and computers and software for children with learning disabilities, funded science programs around the world, and opens his home to hundreds of art students annually, giving them access to his unparalleled art collection.
With a donation of $60 million to start Oxbridge Academy, a private high school in West Palm Beach, Mr. Koch's greatest satisfaction was seeing the doors open in 2011. Nearly 80 percent of the students at Oxbridge receive some form of financial assistance.
Mr. Koch's art collection includes masterpieces by Modigliani, Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Remington and Russell. He is particularly fond of maritime paintings and the art of the American West. Mr. Koch has amassed one of the country's largest collections of western artifacts, including the only surviving tin-type of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid. Works from his collections have been featured in exhibitions, and many masterpieces have been loaned to museums around the world. He is a strong supporter of art programs in the public schools and has served on the boards of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian Museum for American Art and The President's Circle for the National Academy of Arts, Science and Medicine.
Additional Philanthropic Activities
As a companywide initiative, the employees of Oxbow Carbon LLC share Mr. Koch's commitment to philanthropy. Each year, employees contribute countless hours and financial support to a variety of organizations, scholarships, events and community projects including fire and police departments, public schools, hospitals, youth athletics, and more.
Mr. Koch and his wife Bridget Rooney Koch reside in Palm Beach, Florida, along with their six children.