David Kohler

President & CEO | Kohler Co.

CSQ&A: David Kohler on Consumer Trends

On the occasion of the opening of the Kohler Experience Center in West Hollywood, CSQ sat down with the fourth-generation president and CEO of Kohler Co. to discuss Kohler’s ambitious foray into brick-and-mortar retail with Experience Centers

CSQ Before we get to the incredible Kohler Experience Center we’re sitting in, what are you most proud of accomplishing professionally as a member of the company?
David Kohler Playing a role in significantly growing the company over the last 20 years, navigating through the worst decline in the U.S. housing market since the Great Depression, and transitioning the company leadership from my father to me as president and CEO. 

CSQ Speaking of navigating, how have shifting consumer trends affected the way you and the team think about your business and
DK Consumer trends are always changing—especially in the retail space where we are seeing significant transitions in the face of serious ecommerce growth. We recognize that a lot of inspiration for the home renovation process begins in the digital space but when it comes time to transition from inspiration to the purchase, that doesn’t translate as well in the digital space. That is why we believe strongly in our Kohler Experience Centers (KEC). When homeowners are investing in something for their kitchens or baths, they connect with it every day. We feel it’s a game-changer to touch and see the product in person. KEC LAX provides an elevated, unparalleled customer service experience for everyone who comes into the space. It’s the ultimate try-before-you-buy for the home and design space.

CSQ How many Kohler Experience Centers are there globally? Do they vary at all? If so, based upon what?
DK There are seven KECs across the globe­­— two of which are in the U.S. The aesthetic of each reflects the city’s own design, culture, and architectural spirit. For instance, KEC LAX  in West Hollywood was designed by renowned local architecture firm Marmol Radziner—the space evokes Southern California’s mid-century modern vibe inside and out.

CSQ Do you see this as a continued area of growth?
DK Absolutely. We entered the retail space in 2012 with the launch of our Kohler Signature Store concept. Six years later, we have 21 Kohler Signature Stores in the U.S., and our presence continues to grow with Kohler Experience Centers. We are incredibly committed to brick and mortar retail as a core component of our business and plan to launch a total of ten KECs in 2017 and 2018 in order to meet global demand.