Kohler was founded in the city of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in 1873 and was officially named Kohler Co. after John Michael Kohler became a major interest holder in the Union Iron and Street Foundry. The company initially produced cast iron implements for farmers and furniture factories.
In 1899, the company relocated its operations 4 miles outside of the city of Sheboygan after its founder contended that the city had become too congested. Coincidentally, John Michael Kohler died within only days of the new Kohler Co. factory's completion. Three months after John Michael Kohler's death, an accident caused the new factory to burn down.