The world of government relations has experienced a "great loss" with the passing of George W. Koch, an industry leader who served as president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) from 1966 to 1990, the Washington-based trade group said yesterday.
Koch, who passed away over the weekend, was honored this past July with GMA's inaugural Leadership in Public Policy Award. The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner (R-OH), presented the award before more than 350 industry leaders and policymakers at the GMA Leadership in Public Policy Dinner, and the award will henceforth be named the George W. Koch Leadership in Public Policy Award in his honor.
“George Koch’s record of achievement as an industry leader and public policy professional is legendary," noted GMA's current president and CEO, Pamela G. Bailey, in a statement. "GMA and our nation’s capital would not be what they are today without George. The entire CPG industry and the world of government relations have experienced a great loss with the news of his passing."
After graduating from law school, Koch became Cincinnati’s Assistant City Attorney and then Director of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, learning his government relations trade by working the floor of the Ohio legislature. Soon thereafter, Koch was hired by Sears Roebuck & Company to open their Washington, D.C., office.
In 1966, Koch became CEO of GMA and quickly made a name for himself. Koch rebranded and revitalized the organization, changed its focus and turned GMA into a Washington public policy powerhouse.
His greatest legacy is the revolutionary Universal Product Code -- the industry’s and George Koch’s gift to selling, considered one of the greatest advances in retailing history.
Koch is survived by his wife, Helen, their six children, and 14 grandchildren.