Companies that prosper over time show a clear sense of purpose and core values. They translate them into action and ensure that they are reflected consistently throughout the organization in everything it does.
At Kohler Co., adherence to their corporate mission…”to improve the level of gracious living in the lives of all who are touched by our products and services”…identifies a clear sense of purpose for the more than 31,000 Kohler associates around the world.
Continued success springs from a clear sense of purpose and a corporate culture which promotes:
- Living on the leading edge, meshing art and advances technology to create new products, new markets and new niches within existing markets.
- Maintaining a single high standard of quality in all products and services to make them capable of delighting the senses and sensibility of end users consistently.
- Continually reinvesting the majority of their earnings in operational excellence. These principles have been powerful in driving the long-term success and character of the Kohler organization. Yet, a company cannot be explained in terms of mission or principles alone. Human energy is required to give life and direction to a mission.
Leaders: Taking the Long-Term Perspective
What they have accomplished can be credited, in part, to company leadership that has had the leeway to think long-term and for whom relationships matter. Their leaders have been strong, self-reliant, never wanting for original ideas, and possessing the courage to expand. Diversify, and take necessary risks to achieve their objectives. That courage is evident in such unconventional decisions as:
- Moving the Kohler factory to the Wisconsin countryside in 1899 to provide an improved quality of life for employees
- Branching out into the generator business in the 1920s
- Rolling out a host of products in bold new colors and shapes, beginning in the 1960s, that forever changed the face of the American bath
- Developing a second 50-year plan for the controlled growth of the Village of Kohler in the 1970s