Charles Koch

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DEFINITION of 'Charles Koch'

Charles Koch is the multi-billionaire chairman and CEO of Koch Supply and Trading and co-owns Koch Industries with his brother, David. Forbes named Charles Koch one of the world’s wealthiest people in 2014 with an estimated net worth of $41.4 billion. Like his brother, he owns 42% of the company, according to Bloomberg.

Koch was born in 1935 in Wichita, Kansas, where he grew up. He earned his undergraduate degree in engineering in 1957 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and two master’s degrees, one in mechanical engineering and one in chemical engineering, from MIT in 1958 and 1959, respectively.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Charles Koch'

Koch worked as an engineer at Arthur D. Little until 1961, when he became vice president of Koch Engineering Company. In 1963 he became the company’s president, a position he held until 1971. He became chairman and CEO of Koch Industries in 1967, which he helped grow to 2,000 times its original size into one of the world’s largest private companies. Koch Industries owns companies in refining, chemicals and biofuels; forest and consumer products; fertilizers; polymers and fibers; process and pollution control equipment and technologies; electronic components; commodity trading; minerals; energy; ranching; glass; and investments.

Since 1982, Koch has been a director of Intrust Financial Corporation, a bank holding company based in Wichita. He has also served as director of Georgia Pacific (owned by Koch Industries) and INVISTA, a Koch subsidiary that produces nylon, spandex, polyester and specialty materials.

In 2007, Wiley published his book, “The Science of Success,” describing his market-based management philosophy, which he has developed over 50 years. MBM “is the engine that powers Koch companies,” according to the Koch Industries website. Based on the science of human action, MBM “is a holistic approach to management that integrates theory and practice, and prepares organizations to deal successfully with the challenges of growth and change,” the site states. One of MBM’s key goals is to create real and lasting value for customers, communities and companies.

Koch has received more than two dozen awards, and Babson College, George Mason University and Washburn University have all awarded him honorary doctorates. He is an ardent defender of free markets, small government and low taxes and an opponent of wealth redistribution and cronyism. He supports free-market public policy research through several organizations including the Institute for Humane Studies, the Cato Institute and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Koch has also been a major donor to various political campaigns, and Koch, his brother, their foundations and companies have together donated nearly $1 billion to charity.

He has three children and has been married to his wife, Liz, since 1968.

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