A Tribute to David A. Koch

The Purpose of Business Is To Serve People

That was the calling card of David A. Koch, known for his commitment to his faith, family, friends, profession and community. David A. Koch passed away on January 1, 2015.

David’s contemporaries reflected on what he meant to them: “Dave was the model for all that is good in a civil and capital society” said Jim Secord of Lakewood Publications and one of eight in David’s Monday Morning Group. “He challenged us to think about our higher calling.” David was a “role model and mentor” to Dick McFarland of Dain Rauscher, reminding him that “with every title comes a responsibility to the community.”

Jim Renier of Honeywell described David as “the model for the kind of value system and behavior a CEO should have.” Chuck Denny of ADC spoke of David’s confidence in the goodness of humankind. “He was rock solid in his sense of values and as a result, his behavior was predictable 100% of the time.”

Ken Melrose of Toro shared a nickname for David: “coacher.” “David’s wisdom exceeded himself and contributed to his ability to coach others to excel. And his thinking was not short term, but building for the future.”

David A. Koch and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures

David A. Koch embodied the spirit of the Center for Ethical Business Cultures. He joined fellow business leaders at a retreat in Spring Hill in 1977, subsequently forming the center’s predecessor, the Minnesota Project on Corporate Responsibility. David stressed business’s responsibility beyond the bottom line in serving customers, employees, shareholders and the community.

David was generous with his time, talent and treasure, serving on the CEBC board for 18 years over multiple terms. Judy Corson, a long time but now former CEBC board member recalls Dave “as a kind person with a twinkle in his eye. His unwavering devotion to the community and doing the right thing in every situation served as a role model for all who knew him. Minnesota is better because of Dave.” David Andreas, a former CEBC board member, marveled at “the impact one person can make in the lives of others. You valued being in the boardroom with him and wanted more.”

David A. Koch’s Lessons in Life and Business

In 2009, David A. Koch shared his personal reflections on business in a book, Lessons in Life and Business … Dialogues with David A. Koch, capturing a dialogue with seven “smart, energetic students” in the MBA program at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.

While David’s business life reflected taking appropriate risks and achieving business success, he felt strongly that character counts. “The more complex world markets become, the more important it will be for business leaders to act out of integrity. Laws and regulations will matter, but they will matter less than personal conscience.”

David believed that “businesses could be both good and profitable. The primary goal of every business is to be a good business. If you run a good business, profit is the reward.”

David’s message to the students is a fitting one to everyone: “Aim high; give yourself credit; take chances; substitute fear of failure with optimism; keep your values intact; be relentlessly curious; and have the time of your life.”