Christopher H. Koch is the fourth generation CEO of the family-owned company New Era. Mr. Koch has exhibited drive and passion while carrying his family name and transforming the New Era brand into an iconic international symbol.
Born in Buffalo, New York, Mr. Koch had a strong interest in his family’s company from a young age. He learned each of the 22 steps to make a perfect 59FIFTY fitted cap – the company’s signature product. He began to fully immerse himself in the family business upon graduating high school, when the company was still in its growth stages, and continued to work at New Era while attending evening college classes.
Determined to master each component of the New Era business, Mr. Koch worked in nearly every department including logistics, distribution, production, sourcing, R & D and engineering. His ability to lead and desire to exceed expectations became apparent when the company saw an annual growth rate of 20% under his direction as Vice President of Sales in the early 1990’s.
Mr. Koch focused his efforts on positioning New Era as a global lifestyle brand upon being named president in 1993. Also that year, he was instrumental in securing the first deal with Major League Baseball to become the exclusive supplier of on-field caps for the league – a first for the industry.
Mr. Koch turned New Era into a fashion statement in 1997 when the iconic “flag” began to appear on all New Era headwear. In 1998 Mr. Koch opened the first New Era office outside of the United States in Canada. Since then he began to spearhead the company’s global expansion, opening 14 offices across the globe. Under his direction, New Era began to see strong growth in key international markets including APAC, EMEA, Japan and Latin America.
In 2002, Mr. Koch was named Chief Executive Officer and continued to deepen relationships with key partners including Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs. In 2009, his strategic thinking to expand New Era beyond headwear led to the acquisition of 5th & Ocean (a woman’s apparel company based in Miami) and MARC4 (a lifestyle brand in Brazil). Mr. Koch led the New Era brand into further growth with New Era branded men’s apparel and a full line of accessories rounding out the global lifestyle brand further.
In 2010, Mr. Koch secured a long term licensing deal with the National Football League giving New Era exclusive distribution and branding rights for all on-field sideline and locker room caps as well as co-exclusive rights for fan headwear worldwide.
In addition to Mr. Koch’s business achievements, he plays an active role in the local Buffalo community and beyond. He was appointed to the University at Buffalo Council by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March 2013. Additionally, he sits on the board of the Buffalo Sabres Foundation and is a trustee at Elmwood Franklin School. He has also been a board member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation since 2009.