Bill Koch’s relationship with the Sea Scout program pre-dates his career as a successful international businessman and winning America’s Cup skipper. It began more than 50 years ago when the Wichita, Kansas native enrolled in a summer sailing program at Culver Military Academy in Indiana. Modeled after the Sea Scout Program, Koch cites his early sailing experience as one that would alter the course of his life. “I learned then that the true art of sailing required teamwork, discipline and leadership,” he said. “If I could fine tune those skills, then I would be better able to manage the surprises that the sea constantly throws at you.”
Koch has done a fine job of honing those skills. He graduated with honors from Culver Military Academy and received his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As the founder of the Oxbow Carbon LLC, the largest marketer and producer of petroleum and calcined coke in the world, Koch has created a business that Forbes Magazine consistently recognizes as one of the top privately held companies in America.
Using some of the lessons learned from his life-long passion for the sea, Koch created his T3 philosophy – talent, teamwork and technology. Simply put, he encourages employee participation, rewards teamwork and relies on scientific research to make calculated risks. Koch used the T3 approach to win the 1992 America’s Cup, the most coveted prize in sailing. “Ordinary people doing things extraordinarily well as a team will beat – every time – a bunch of superstars with their accompanying egos,” he told his team of amateur sailors when the sailing experts had discounted them at the start of their America’s Cup campaign.
Koch designed, built and created The William I. Koch International Sea Scout Cup to foster the lessons born out of the Sea Scout Program. The biannual regatta recognizes young adults who are willing to learn leadership through seamanship.