Photo:  The Beaverton
Photo: The Beaverton

Who is Charles Koch - Biography?

In Kansas, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch is by far the richest resident with $60.6 billion to his name.

Charles de Ganahl Koch (born November 1, 1935) is an American billionaire businessman and philanthropist. As of August 2021, he was ranked as the 20th-richest person in the world on Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with an estimated net worth of $61.1 billion. Koch has been 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, then expanded the business. Originally involved exclusively in oil refining and chemicals, Koch Industries now includes process and pollution control equipment and technologies, polymers and fibers, minerals, fertilizers, commodity trading and services, forest and consumer products, and ranching.

The businesses produce a wide variety of well-known brands, such as Stainmaster carpet, the Lycra brand of spandex fiber, Quilted Northern tissue, and Dixie Cup.

Charles Koch: Childhood & Early Life

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Koch was born and lives in Wichita, Kansas, one of four sons of Clementine Mary (née Robinson) and Fred Chase Koch. Koch's grandfather, Harry Koch, was a Dutch immigrant who settled in West Texas, founded the Quanah Tribune-Chief newspaper, and was a founding shareholder of Quanah, Acme, and Pacific Railway. Among his maternal great-great-grandparents were William Ingraham Kip, an Episcopal bishop, William Burnet Kinney, a politician, and Elizabeth Clementine Stedman, a writer.

Charles has three brothers: Frederick, David, and William. He went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study engineering. He earned his Bachelor of Science in general engineering in 1957, and a Master of Science (M.S.) in mechanical engineering in 1958. He then completed another Master’s degree and received his M.S. in chemical engineering in 1960.

Charles Koch: Career

After graduation, he joined Arthur D. Little, Inc. However, this job lasted for a very short while as he moved back to Wichita in 1961 in order to join his father’s business, Rock Island Oil & Refining Company. He was a hard-working young man, determined to expand the family business which had become a medium-sized oil firm by the late 1960s.

He became the president of the business in 1967 and renamed it Koch Industries in his father’s honor. He has also been serving as the Chairman of the Board and CEO since then.

A highly competitive businessman, he worked tirelessly to grow the business which is today involved in diverse fields such as the manufacturing, refining, and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fiber, intermediates and polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper.

Photo:  Tim Ferriss
Photo: Tim Ferriss

He became the Director of Koch Industries in 1982 and also serves, or has served, as the Director of other corporations including Entrust Financial Corp. and Georgia-Pacific LLC, paper and pulp products.

Under the leadership of Charles Koch, the Koch Industries saw an unprecedented rate of expansion and at present has its presence in around 60 countries around the world and employs more than 100,000 people worldwide.

Over the recent years, Koch Industries have invested more than $70 billion in acquisitions and other capital expenditures and own Invista, Georgia-Pacific, Molex, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Pipeline, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Minerals, and Matador Cattle Company.

Charles Koch credits his phenomenal success to the business philosophy of Market Based Management (MBM), a concept which he developed. He describes this philosophy in detail in his 2007 book, ‘The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World's Largest Private Company’.

Photo: Wall Street Journal
Photo: Wall Street Journal

The principles of MBM are taught to students, educators, community leaders, and government officials by the Market-Based Management Institute, an educational non-profit, through their partnership with the Wichita State University (WSU). He is a libertarian and is in favor of free-enterprise policy and advocacy organizations. He supports a number of free market-oriented educational organizations, including Cato Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies, Bill of Rights Institute, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

As the co-owner, chairman of the board, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Koch Industries, Charles Koch, has played a pivotal role in transforming the company from a medium-sized firm to one of the largest privately held companies in the United States. Koch Industries is also the recipient of more than 930 awards for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation, and customer service.


Charles and David Koch shared the conservative political outlook of their father, who was a founding member of the John Birch Society. In 1980 David was the vice-presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, which received slightly more than 1 percent of the popular vote. The brothers subsequently focused their political energies on promoting libertarian ideas and policies among academics, journalists, politicians, and the public.

To this end, they contributed millions of dollars annually to scores of think tanks, foundations, and nonprofit groups, several of which they created or controlled.

Photo:  Charles Koch Institute
Photo: Charles Koch Institute

In the mid-2000s the Koch brothers eclipsed the Exxon Mobil Corporation as the major financial sponsor of groups that questioned the reality, severity, or human origins of global climate change. Koch Industries and its subsidiaries, as well as the brothers individually and through the organizations they funded, also spent large sums on campaign contributions, lobbying, and state ballot measures.

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, meanwhile, aided the growth of the anti-government Tea Party movement from 2009 by organizing rallies, mobilizing voters, funding advertisements, and formulating policy. Starting in 2003 the Koch brothers hosted biannual national conferences at which industry executives, Republican Party leaders, and conservative activists and journalists gathered to discuss political issues, fundraising, and electoral strategy.

Liberal critics of the Koch brothers accused them of using their enormous wealth to manipulate the political process and public discourse in their company’s interest and to advance policies that harmed the middle class and the poor and undermined public health, workers’ rights, and the environment. Defenders claimed that the extent of the brothers’ influence was exaggerated and that their political activities were motivated by their desire to increase economic freedom and prosperity for all Americans, according to Britannica.

Charles Koch: Personal Life

Koch has been married to his wife Liz since 1972. He has two children, Chase Koch and Elizabeth Koch. Charles and his three brothers have all suffered from prostate cancer. Koch "rarely grants media interviews and prefers to keep a low profile". Time magazine included Charles and David Koch among the most influential people of 2011. According to the magazine, the list includes "activists, reformers and researchers, heads of state and captains of industry." The article describes the brothers' commitment to free-market principles, the growth and development of their business, and their support for Tea Party organizations and political candidates. Koch lives in Wichita, Kansas, and has homes in Indian Wells, California, and Aspen, Colorado.

Charles Koch: Awards & Achievements

He was presented with the Adam Smith Award by American Legislative Exchange Council in 1994.

In 1999, he won the Directors’ Award for Global Vision in Energy from the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Heritage Foundation bestowed upon him the Spirit of Justice Award in 2003.

In 2005 he won the Herman W. Lay Memorial Award by the Association of Private Enterprise Education. He was honored with the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership by Philanthropy Roundtable in 2011.

Charles Koch: Net Worth

Charles Koch is an American businessman who has a net worth of $62 billion dollars. Koch has been ranked as high as the fourth richest person in the world. Today he is one of the 20 richest people in the world.

With annual revenues of $100+ billion, today Koch Industries is the second-largest privately held company by revenue in the United States, behind Cargill. Charles holds a 42 percent stake in Koch Industries and has also invested in several companies, including Georgia-Pacific, Invista, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Pipelines, Molex, and more. He also holds a stake in his family's private equity fund, Koch Equity Development, and has around $2 billion worth of cash investments. Koch has written three books about his business philosophy: "Good Profit," "The Science of Success," and "Market Based Management."

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