Meeting of 2 family businesses at Interwire
The show floor at Interwire was the setting for an industry story at Booth 151, where key representatives of two iconic family businesses met for the first time at Interwire since their respective companies founded Morgan-Koch Corporation 30 years ago.
The story of how the joint venture came to be exemplifies the possibilities that exist when companies respond to circumstances and opportunity. In this case, it was Germany’s Ernst Koch & Company, a premier supplier of wire drawing technology, mand Morgan Construction Company, a specialist in rod mills founded in 1888.
A key figure for each company met for the first time at Interwire: Flip Morgan, who was president and CEO of Morgan Construction Co., for 23 years before the fifth-generation business was sold to Siemens in 2008, and Jochen Koch, who for 32 years has worked for the family business, where he serves as managing director.
Flip Morgan said that the venture between the two companies made sense: Morgan thrived on wire rod technology, whereas Ernst Koch had superlative drawing technology. Jochen said that Ernst Koch could supply top-quality wire drawing technology, but its marketing efforts in the U.S. had not been as successful. Merging the technical know-how of Koch and the marketing and connections of Morgan Construction was a concept that worked well for both companies. It was literally a return to old times for Flip Morgan, who was returning to Interwire after a 20-year gap. At Interwire, he and Jochen met with attendees and found time to talk shop. There also was a lot more to talk about because of how the venture—which in 1991 became a subsidiary of Ernst Koch—had evolved. Today, Morgan-Koch Corporation supplies Koch & WiTechs wire drawing machinery and OEM parts for all makes and models of Vaughn & Morgan wire drawing machinery, as well as serving as the U.S. representatives for FIB, Krollman, M+E, R. Lisciani Trafilerie, SKET and Sirio Wire. Jochen observed that the industry culture in Germany has long been a strength for Ernst Koch. The strong focus on engineering and apprentice programs, and partnering with local wiredrawing companies has helped it remain a leader in its field. The added advantage for both it and Morgan-Koch, he believes, is that they remain a family-owned business. “More OEMs now are owned by larger companies that tend to focus on the bottom line, the ROI, whereas we do that, but with a focus on continued innovation.”
For Flip—a Harvard graduate who remains active outside the industry—returning to the show floor after all these years was an enjoyable experience. He ended up taking part in talks with representatives from companies such as Insteel, Taubensee, Leggett & Platt, Davis and Sivaco. “I was impressed by the quality of the customers,” he said. He added that he sees potential, noting that even though the steel sector is in challenging times, it could be feasible for some wire manufacturers to open their own rod mill. Technology will always continues to advance, but Jochen Koch and Flip Morgan agree that having the right culture is essential to a company's long-term success.
Source: WIRE JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL, Interview by Mark Marselli
Jochen Koch (left) and Flip Morgan (right)