The History of Kohler

Designing a Legacy Since 1873

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A Different Kind of Dream 

John Michael Kohler followed his own path. He was a first-generation immigrant who saw the value of entrepreneurship. He was an independent spirit, an artist and a craftsman. His passion to create and innovate is what drove him to build the company that would become the legacy of his family moving forward. 

In 1873, John Michael, an innovator at heart and owner of a small cast-iron farm equipment foundry, saw an opportunity to enhance the lives of his customers, and with white enamel and a cast-iron horse trough, he crafted Kohler’s first bathtub. Gracious living was designed and offered in both form and function.

John Michael’s family built upon his vision, establishing the company as a global leader in craftsmanship and artistry with manufacturing facilities across the globe that produce and service markets all over the world. The company has expanded to include power systems, decorative categories and a portfolio of luxury hospitality resorts, wellness brands and four of the top-100 golf courses in the world. And, in the process, developed an Olmstead-designed community called the Village of Kohler where residents and innovation reside.

Today, the fourth generation of Kohler leaders continue the history of innovation and growth, harnessing the passion of more than 38,000 associates worldwide to fulfill an even greater purpose. The company’s ongoing commitment to design, craftsmanship, and quality is matched by a dedication to sustainable environmental solutions and creating positive social impact.

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Building a Better World

Inspiration, innovation, and a desire to contribute positively to the world are core values that define the Kohler Co. vision. Expressed in every aspect of our operations, these values have helped transform Kohler into a global leader, recognized for the style and quality of our products and our commitment to environmental sustainability. 

History of Kohler

Business success doesn’t matter much if we can’t say we left the world a better place than we found it.


Gracious Living

Everything at Kohler revolves around our commitment to enhancing the lives of all of those who touch our products and services. We want to go beyond the products, delivering on solutions that matter most to you. We’re dedicated to offering everything needed to make a confident decision.

Our promise, our mission, is Gracious Living. As Kohler’s earliest leaders cast the foundation for this ideal, our leadership today contributes to the realization of a broader objective of gracious living for all.

History of Kohler

Gracious Living is marked by qualities of charm, good taste and generosity of spirit, and is further characterized by self-fulfillment and the enhancement of nature. If the recollection of a Kohler experience made you smile, we indeed have raised your level of Gracious Living. Our mission is for all of us to try and do that for thousands of customers every day.

_____Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., Executive Chairman of Kohler Co.

Mutlifaceted Craftsmanship

Kohler Co.’s global footprint lives within four business groups: Kitchen & Bath, Decorative Products, Hospitality, and Power. With a broad portfolio of leading brands, each group offers a valuable perspective to help Kohler Co. better serve our diverse client base.

Our hospitality business gives us the unique opportunity to understand the depth of hospitality projects and the elements that delight guests and keep them coming back. Our KOHLER® products, whether for the kitchen or bath, are thoughtfully designed to offer whole-room solutions to suit any space or needs and are used in our own hospitality properties.

History of Kohler

Our manufacturing diversity and expertise of craft offer uncommon, artistic solutions in a variety of materials and finishes. Additionally, with Kohler facilities all over the world, we are able to streamline supply chains and manufacture products to meet the needs of all of the markets we serve.

Our portfolio of brands leads the way in design, innovation, and craftsmanship. But our recognition as a global leader is soundly attributed to our passion for working with partners like you to provide exceptional products and services for each envisioned space. Guided by a single level of quality, an unequaled sense of aesthetic and an unwavering focus on the end consumer, we are able to bring visions and living environments to life in every corner and culture of the world.​

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