Kohler Co. was co-founded in 1873 by Austrian immigrant John Michael Kohler and Charles Silberzahn with the purchase of the Sheboygan Union Iron and Steel Foundry from Kohler's father-in-law, Jacob Vollrath, for $5,000. Early products included cast iron and steel farm implements, castings for furniture factories and ornamental iron pieces including cemetery crosses and settees. A breakthrough came in 1883 when John Michael applied enamel to a cast-iron horse trough to create the company's first bathtub. The company has been primarily in the plumbing business ever since and is known for its plumbing fixtures.
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