That Preppy Alligator Is An Emblem of the Financial Success of Logo King Robert Koch
updated 11/16/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/16/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST
Koch started Swiss Maid 25 years ago with two embroidery machines and seven employees. Now the firm has a staff of more than 200. In spite of expansion, Swiss Maid remains a family business: Koch's wife, Naomi, is vice-president, his brother is production manager and his sister is an executive vice-president. "It's a pleasure working with your own family," says Koch. "An employee will do some things for you, but a sister or brother will do a little bit more."
The son of a railroad engineer, Koch grew up in West New York, N.J. While working his way through St. Peter's College in Jersey City, Koch got a job as an assistant machine operator in a local embroidery concern. At 26, he bought two machines and set up Swiss Maid. The name, he says, is a tribute to "the best embroiderers in the world."
His machines operate 24 hours a day, 240 days a year. At 51, he has no intention of slowing down. "I enjoy my work," says Koch. "Best of all, when I walk around town, it's awfully hard not to see an alligator—and that sort of alligator doesn't scare me."