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A day in Kohler history … 100 years since breaking ground at The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin

At the turn of the 20th century, many Kohler Co. associates immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life. Leaving behind their homeland and families, these men didn’t speak English and rented unsuitable houses just to make ends meet.

Kohler history

Workers at the Kohler factory in the early 20th century – many of them immigrants from Europe.

Walter J. Kohler Sr., President of Kohler Co., envisioned an elaborate establishment for these associates that would not only provide affordable accommodations, but would create a support system for the immigrant workers so they could thrive both personally and professionally.
On May 17, 1917, builders broke ground on this vision. The construction of The American Club® would forever change the physical and ideological landscape of the Village of Kohler and Kohler Co.

Located across from the factory gates, the building would include bedrooms, dining areas for daily meals, reading rooms, a tap room, barber shop and bowling alley. While its future residents would live there to save money, they also would participate in English grammar, civic and citizenship classes.
But it was more than a dormitory. According to Walter himself, “The name ‘American Club’ was decided upon as it was thought that, with high standards of living and clean healthful recreation, it would be a factor in inculcating in the men of foreign
antecedents a love for their adopted country.”

The American Club opened in June 1918 and was quickly filled with more than 250 hopeful associates dreaming of a new and better life. One hundred years after its groundbreaking, The American Club continues to emulate gracious living to those who enter its doors. Transformed into a five-diamond resort in 1981, the spirit and courage of those who dared to charter the unknown will always remain a part of its legacy.

To learn more from Kohler’s history – visit our Kohler History page.

Australia’s Jason Day wins 2015 PGA on Kohler Whistling Straits course

Australia’s Jason Day wins 2015 PGA on Kohler Whistling Straits course

Kohler Australia would like to congratulate our very own Jason Day on his record-setting 2015 PGA championship victory. In this, the third time Kohler has hosted the PGA at its spectacular Whistling Straits Championship Golf Course in its home-town of Wisconsin, it is especially exciting to have an Australian – Jason Day – take out the trophy with a record-breaking major championship score of 20 under par.

PGA winner Jason Day with Kohler Executive Chairman Herb Kohler and his wife Natalie Black Kohler.

PGA winner Jason Day with Kohler Executive Chairman Herb Kohler and his wife Natalie Black Kohler.

President and CEO of Kohler, David Kohler, his wife Nina and winner of the 2015 PGA – Jason Day.

President and CEO of Kohler, David Kohler, his wife Nina and winner of the 2015 PGA – Jason Day.

President and CEO of Kohler Co., David Kohler, says this is the sixth major golf championship to be held at its Whistling Straits course, each one putting the company and its brand in the international spotlight.

“The 2015 PGA Championship attracted more than 1000 members of the media and 500 million viewers worldwide. The event not only showcases the breathtaking views of the course, perched on the sand dunes at the edge of Lake Michigan but it also spotlights the quality of the Kohler brand and its mission to enhance the level of gracious living to all those who are touched by the Kohler product and its services.”

Sunset over Whistling Straits, Kohler.

Sunset over Whistling Straits, Kohler.

David Kohler credits his father, Executive Chairman Herb Kohler, with the vision of putting Wisconsin on the map as a golf destination – even though he knew very little about the game in the beginning.

“He would use his father’s old hickory shafts just once a year, to play at a local golf event. But he partnered with one of the world’s best golf course architects – Pete Dye – to create the now legendary Whistling Straits. It’s been a great enhancement in terms of driving tourism to the State, and the 2015 PGA championship is expected to have an economic impact of more than $100 million on Wisconsin.”

Read on to find out more about Kohler, the PGA and Sustainability.

And other recent tournaments on Kohler courses around the world.

Kohler and the Arts Exhibition – South East Asia

Kohler and the Arts Exhibition – South East Asia

Last month a special Kohler and the Arts Bold. Art. exhibition featuring a collaboration of the six rising artists from six countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines, was held in Bangkok.

At Kohler Co. our artistic roots run deep. In 1974, the world renowned Artists-in- residence program was introduced at Kohler’s head office in Wisconsin, to support aspiring artists in the US. Over 40 years later, more than 500 residencies have participated in this program creating a stunning range of unique one-of-a-kind artistic pieces for the bathroom.

One of the most popular Artist Edition collections in Australia and New Zealand is the Empress Bouquet. The collection includes the Conical Bell Vessel, a rectangular undercounter and an oval undercounter.

Kohler Artist-in-residence program

An artist working on an Artist Edition basin during his residency at Kohler, Wisconsin.

Passing the artistic tradition to Asia, the equivalent of this Artists program debuted in China in 2010 with a program titled “Bold. Art.”

Following the success in China, the program was later extended to include Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea during 2013-2014. Participating artists were invited to create artistic pieces from similar materials used to produce Kohler’s products under the theme “Asian Contemporary Art: Rooted in the Past, Looking into the Future”.

Kohler Artist-in-residence program

An artist-in-residence at Kohler’s Southeast Asia Artist Residency Program.

Kohler artists

Artists in residence as part of the Southeast Asia Bold. Art. collaboration.

Kohler Co’s president and CEO Mr David Kohler attended the opening ceremony. In addition, a special showcase of exclusive items from the Artist Editions collection, an elegant and elaborately designed product line that was first introduced by Kohler Co. in 1985, was also on display.

Kohler Co. Bold. Art. Exhibition

KOHLER Co. Bold. Art. exhibition in Bangkok. Left – Peter Oesch (Director Marketing Communications APAC)
Right – David Kohler, President and CEO, Kohler Co.

KOHLER Bold. Art. exhibition

KOHLER Bold. Art. exhibition in Bangkok

50 years ago – Kohler makes a colourful introduction

50 years ago – Kohler makes a colourful introduction

The February 11, 1965, issue of Kohler People may have been printed in black and white, but the story was quite colorful. Fifty years ago, Kohler introduced a new trend in plumbing fixtures—the accent color.

Kohler pastel bathroom 1920s

1920s Kohler Pastel Bathroom

Since the 1920s, Kohler had been producing fixtures in an assortment of pastel colors, but it was not until 1965 that they unveiled five bold hues to be used as accents—Espresso, Jade, Citron, Blueberry and Antique red.

Kohler Accent Colors - Espresso and Antique Red

Kohler Accent Colors – Espresso and Antique Red

According to the newsletter, “The introduction of Accent colors comes at a time when decorators are using much deeper colors and more striking combinations of colors than ever … Kohler Co. is the first to find a way to fit plumbing fixture into that trend.”

Kohler History_coloured fittings

Kohler first introduced colour into the bathroom 50 years ago

And even today, Kohler continues to lead the way with it’s bold and innovative design. Watch this space to find out what we’re launching next …