There are those who eventually find their way to human resources, and then there is the story of a young Ginger King. King’s father, a manufacturing plant manager, would occasionally bring his young daughter to work. While waiting for her father to finish his workday, King read through résumés of potential applicants and stacked them for her father in order of who she thought would make the best hire. Little did King know, her passion for identifying strong talent was here to stay.
While she wouldn’t embrace the traditional HR path until college, King has been building out expertise in privately held businesses her entire life: from her mom’s business, which was run from the family home, to her current employer, Kohler Company, where she is the vice president of human resources for the Kitchen and Bath Group.
Throughout her career, King has believed in taking chances and championing change for the better. This belief would take her many places, including two separate stints at Kohler. After twelve years at Kohler, King accepted a position outside of the company leading a human resources function at a mid-sized manufacturing company. As she transitioned, the words of her leader at the time, ‘I’m just telling myself that we’re outsourcing your next development opportunity,’ stayed with King.
For the next three years, King would transform a HR function into a trusted business partner, from helping align the employee experience to the core values to ensuring all processes and programs were tailored to the organization’s people and culture vision.
King was eventually asked to take on a general management role within the same company, broadening her leadership skills and experience. But not too long after that, “Kohler Company started calling again,” King says, laughing.
Since 2019, King has been promoted twice at Kohler Company. In her first two years back, King was able to help enable a continued cultural transformation by partnering with leaders across the company.
“We are a brand that’s known for being on the leading edge of product innovation, so how do we stay true to that in all areas of the business?”
Kohler was also prepping a global operating model reset, which King helped to lead by redesigning the organization. This effort inadvertently coincided with the pandemic shutdown of 2020.
“It’s a testament to a business like Kohler that has come so far but is dedicated to taking time to rethink how we want to structure our business to accelerate growth into the future,” King says. “We are a brand that’s known for being on the leading edge of product innovation, so how do we stay true to that in all areas of the business?”
Part of that new approach involves creating a culture that empowers people to thrive in a more agile and efficient way. “We want to align work and decisions closest to the customer and ensure that we’re utilizing technology to its fullest,” the VP explains. “We’re looking at everything from how we work to how we develop the skills and capabilities necessary to continue to delight our customers.”
During this transformation period, King says she’s been impressed by just how blank the drawing board was allowed to be when strategizing the future organizational design.
And throughout all of this innovation and evolution, King has found her own skill set consistently growing. The VP is a pragmatic yet optimistic leader who has mastered the art of communicating with leaders and employees.
“One of the things that you find in privately owned businesses is that many times, individuals will just try and tell [the business] what they want to hear,” King explains. “It’s incredibly important to be clear with them about the reality of what’s going on and remind them of their influence in those environments.”
From reviewing résumés at her dad’s desk to championing a transformative culture, King’s approach to her role makes her a trusted partner for honesty, transparency, and authentic leadership.
Congratulations to Ginger King and Kohler Company for this recognition. Ginger exemplifies how HR helps to build and support culture in a family corporation—where culture is the heartbeat. Stranberg Resource Group serves family businesses through comprehensive executive search, succession planning, and facilitation services. Check us out at stranberg.com.