The Koch brothers 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 revenues topping $100 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.
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.
We have selected seven 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
Flint Hills is a fuel-producing company. It offers petroleum products, gasoline, diesel fuels, jet fuels and other oil products. 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.
This is a 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 35,000 people in over 200 locations. Georgia-Pacific claims to be environmentally responsible. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia, but markets worldwide.
3. Guardian Industries
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.
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.
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 10,000 employees.
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.
Molex counts nearly 100,000 products in its catalog and has more than 42,000 employees in 39 countries.
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.
8. Time Inc.
Meredith Corp (MDP.N) announced on Nov. 26, 2017, that it will buy TIME Inc, the publisher of magazines like Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and People, in a $1.84 billion all-cash deal backed by the Koch siblings.
The brothers will contribute $650 million in preferred equity via Koch Equity Development (KED), the investment arm of Koch Industries. The press release announcing the acquisition said KED will not have a seat on Meredith's board or any influence over its operations.
The Bottom Line
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.