The Koch brothers, Charles and David, have become well-known for their libertarian and conservative politics and are often portrayed as significant personalities that impact elections and government decisions. However, despite the Koch brothers’ fame as political influencers, their primary activities are centered around running Koch Industries Inc., of which they own 84%. This is a private company that has annual revenues topping $115 billion. However, it is not really a single company, but a conglomerate of companies the brothers own. On June 5, 2018, David Koch retired from all roles related to the Koch Industries and Koch-affiliated group due to health reasons.
Koch Industries' Revenue Growth
Because Koch Industries' is not a publicly traded company, some of its key financial information is not typically available to the public. However, per an SEC fact sheet, the conglomerate has seen its value grow by 16 times that of the S&P 500 for some of its history.
The industries under the Koch umbrella are diverse, ranging from companies that deal with energy to spandex. Koch companies manufacture paper, process minerals, create fertilizers, and refine oil, among many other things. We have selected eight top companies owned by the Koch brothers so that you can have a glimpse of the scope and nature of their business holdings.
1. Flint Hills Resources
[Fast Fact: Flint Hills Resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries and an independent company.]
Flint Hills is a fuel-producing company. It offers petroleum products, gasoline, diesel fuels, jet fuels and other oil products, as well as those related to polymers and other chemicals. The company's ethanol plants have a combined production capacity of more than 800 million gallons per year.
The company also explores biofuels. Flint Hills markets a variety of chemical applications, coatings, automotive parts, and asphalt. Flint Hills markets and sells on a worldwide basis, including the United States, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, Central America and New Zealand.
[Fast Fact: Koch Industries acquired Georgia Pacific on December 23, 2005 for $21 billion.]
Originally known as Georgia Hardwood Lumber Co, Georgia-Pacific is a pulp and paper company that produces paper, tissue, toilet paper, and building products and includes the well-known brands Quilted Northern tissue, Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups. Aside from these products, wallboard napkins, boxes, paper dispensers, and pulp round out the company’s offerings.
The company employs more than 40,000 people in over 200 locations. Georgia-Pacific claims to be environmentally responsible. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia, but markets worldwide.
3. Guardian Industries
[Fast Fact: Koch Industries completed its full acquisition of Guardian Industries on February 1, 2017 after earlier buying a 44.5% stake in the company.]
Think of Guardian Industries as a glass company. It manufactures glass for automobiles, building applications, fiberglass insulation and coated glass for architectural needs. The company is known for its research and development of new applications for glass, such as energy-efficient windows.
Based in Michigan, Guardian Industries employees 18,000 people in the United States, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
[Fast Fact: Koch Industries acquired Invista for an undisclosed amount in April 2004.]
Invista makes spandex, resins, chemicals, and polymers. It is a spin-off of DuPont, now owned by the Koch brothers. The company concentrates on textiles and owns numerous brands such as Lycra, Tactel and Thermolite, as well as brands for outdoor gear, carpet (Stainmaster) and luggage. When Koch Industries purchased Invista in 2004, the conglomerate merged the polymers subsidiary with its preexisting KoSa subsidiary in order to create a new company under the Invista name.
In total, Invista owns 23 brands and is involved in fabrics, fibers, plastics, polymers, chemicals, and the licensing of technology. The company operates in 20 countries and has about 10,000 employees.
[Fast Fact: Koch Industries paid $7.2 billion to acquire Molex in September, 2013.]
Molex creates electronics to solve technical problems in electric cars, robotic surgery, and even the Mars Rover. The company is also involved in fiber optics, smartphones, and defense applications. With about 80 years of history, Molex has been a critical part of the development of some of the most prominent technologies of today, including the first cell phones, HDTVs and car radios.
Molex counts nearly 100,000 products in its catalog and has more than 42,000 employees in 39 countries. For the year ending June 30, 2013, Molex had about $3.6 billion in revenue.
6. Koch Ag & Energy Solutions
Koch Ag and Energy Solutions operate three Koch Industries companies. Koch Fertilizer manufactures and markets a wide variety of fertilizer products used in the agriculture industry. It operates a global distribution network with terminals in North America, South America, and Europe. Koch Energy Services markets electricity and natural gas in North American markets.
It uses its expertise in market analysis, purchasing, hedging, and energy logistics to provide comprehensive services to other companies. Koch Methanol is a methanol supplier. It was originally established to fulfill the needs of Koch Industries subsidiaries, but it now works with other companies as well.
7. Koch Pipeline Company
This company owns pipelines throughout Texas, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. The pipelines transport oil and refined petroleum, as well as natural gas. Some of the pipelines are associated with Flint Hills Resources.
Koch Pipeline Company operates approximately 4,000 miles of pipeline in six U.S. states, the longest of which include the 580-mile Wood River Pipeline in Missouri and a 540-mile pipeline system in South Texas, both of which transport crude oil.
Lesser Known Companies
Koch Industries also holds a variety of smaller subsidiaries as well as the major brands listed above. The Matador Cattle Company operates three ranches with 12,000 head of cattle, for instance, while the Koch brothers have their name on a variety of other subsidiary brands as well. These include the Koch Chemical Technology Group, Koch Disruptive Technologies, Koch Minerals and more.
Koch Industries Inc. is so vast it is hard to grasp its full reach. Because Koch Industries is a private company, it is not required to publish the kinds of financial information that publicly-traded companies publish. Figures about the size of Koch Industries and the companies it owns are not as reliable as figures for public companies. Nonetheless, the company has made several key strategic acquisitions throughout its decades of history, each of which provides insight into the business strategy of the Koch brothers. While Koch Industries is not the most aggressive buyer of other businesses, it doesn't hesitate to make acquisitions when company leaders feel that the move will be mutually beneficial for all parties.