Fred C. Koch formed the Winkler-Koch Engineering Firm with MIT classmate, Lewis E. Winkler. The partners developed a more efficient thermal cracking process for turning crude oil into gasoline. They were sued for patent infringement and were unable to continue to work in the United States. The partners opened 15 cracking units in Russia between 1929 and 1932.
In 1940 Koch joined new partners to form the company Wood River Oil Company. Fred’s son Frank joined the company in 1961 and became president the next year following the death of his father.
The company changed its name to Koch Industries to honor Frank Koch after his death.
In 1969 Koch Industries acquired a majority interest in Great Northern Oil Company.
In 1980 Koch Chemical Technology Group is formed.
In 1992 Koch acquired a $100 million portfolio from Chrysler, putting Koch in the municipal finance business. By the end of the decade, Koch Financial Corp. had #1 billion in assets.
Today Koch Industries operates in diverse industries, including refining and chemicals, process and pollution control equipment, and technologies, fibers and polymers, commodity and financial trading, and forest and consumer products. Its Flint Hills Resources subsidiary owns three refineries that together process more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
Koch Industries is #2 on the Forbes list of America’s Largest Private Companies. Koch has 67,000 employees and had $100 billion in revenue in 2011.