Historical records matching Fred Chase Koch
About Fred Chase Koch
Fred Chase Koch (/ˈkoʊk/; September 23, 1900 – November 17, 1967) was an American chemical engineer and entrepreneur who founded the oil refinery firm that later became Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States.
Fred Koch was born in Quanah, Texas, the son of Mattie B. (née Mixson) and a Dutch immigrant, Harry Koch. Harry began working as a printer’s apprentice in Workum, Netherlands. He worked over a year at printers shops in The Hague and in Germany before coming to the U.S. in 1888, and owned the Tribune-Chief newspaper. Fred attended Rice Institute in Houston from 1917 to 1919, and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1922, where he obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering Practice.
Koch started his career with the Texas Company in Port Arthur, Texas, and later became chief engineer with the Medway Oil & Storage Company on the Isle of Grain in Kent, England. In 1925 he joined a fellow MIT classmate, P.C. Keith, at Keith-Winkler Engineering in Wichita, Kansas. Following the departure of Keith in 1925, the firm became Winkler-Koch Engineering Company.
In 1927, Koch developed a more efficient thermal cracking process for turning crude oil into gasoline which allowed smaller players in the industry to better compete with the oil majors. The larger oil companies quickly sued in response, filing 44 different lawsuits against Koch, and embroiling him in litigation for years. Koch was to prevail in all but one of the suits (which was later over-turned due to the fact that the judge had been bribed).
This extended litigation effectively put Winkler-Koch out of business in the U.S. for several years. Koch turned his focus to foreign markets, including the Soviet Union, where Winkler-Koch built 15 cracking units between 1929 and 1932. The company also built installations in countries throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In the early 1930s, Winkler-Koch hosted Soviet technicians for training.
Having succeeded in securing the family fortune, Koch joined new partners in 1940 to create the Wood River Oil and Refining Company, which is today known as Koch Industries. In 1946 the firm acquired the Rock Island refinery and crude oil gathering system near Duncan, Oklahoma. Wood River was later renamed the Rock Island Oil and Refining Company. In 1966 he turned over day-to-day management of the company to his son, Charles Koch.
During his time in the Soviet Union, Koch came to despise communism and Joseph Stalin's regime, writing in his 1960 book, A Business Man Looks at Communism, that he found the Soviet Union to be "a land of hunger, misery, and terror". He toured the countryside with his handler Jerome Livshitz. Livshitz gave Fred Koch what he would call a "liberal education in Communist techniques and methods" and Koch grew persuaded that the Soviet threat needed to be countered in America.
According to his son, Charles, “Many of the Soviet engineers he worked with were longtime Bolsheviks who had helped bring on the revolution.” It deeply bothered Fred Koch that so many of those so committed to the Communist cause were later purged.
He was one of the founding members of the John Birch Society.
He claimed that the Democratic and Republican Parties were infiltrated by the Communist Party, and he supported Mussolini's suppression of communists. He wrote that "The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America," and that public welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks and Puerto Ricans to Eastern cities to vote for Communist causes and "getting a vicious race war started."
In 1932, Koch married Mary Clementine Robinson in Kansas City, Missouri. Mary was the daughter of a prominent Kansas City physician, Ernest Franklin Robinson, who helped to found the University of Kansas School of Medicine and Mary Burnet Kip who died at an early age. Her mother, Mary Burnet Kip was the paternal granddaughter of William Ingraham Kip, the Episcopal missionary bishop to California; and the maternal granddaughter of William Burnet Kinney, ambassador to Italy, and his wife, author Elizabeth Stedman (née Dodge). The Kochs had four sons: Frederick (b. 1933), Charles (b. 1935), and twins David (b. 1940) and William (b. 1940).