After high school, George Kochheiser enlisted in the Army infantry during World War II. He served three years in the European and Pacific theaters, earning a bronze star and Purple Heart. After the War, he graduated from Drake University in 1949 and began working in EMC’s Home Office File Department. Within weeks, he was an accident prevention engineer trainee, traveling in eastern Iowa. Kochheiser gained experience working in branch offices: he was transferred to the Chicago office, then to St. Louis as a safety engineer, later he moved to marketing as field supervisor in 1952. In 1956, at age 30, he moved into management as he opened the Milwaukee Branch as manager. By 1958, the office generated $1 million in premium volume.
In 1962, Robb Kelley, then superintendent of agents and vice president, was instrumental in creating a marketing administrator position to oversee reorganization and set company goals. He called on Kochheiser from Milwaukee to fill the position. Kelley believed Kochheiser’s excellent memory, organized mind, ability to articulate, and proficiency in judging the character and capabilities of others equipped him well for the task. The two leaders formed a visionary team that carried the company into the 1990s.
In 1973, Kochheiser directed a successful advertising campaign, “When You’ve Got Misery, You’ll Love Our Company.” In 1974, he was a founding member of the insurance industry’s Agency-Company Operations Research Development (ACORD), with a major focus on streamlining work, and simplifying and standardizing forms. He also initiated the EMC Agency Profit Sharing plan, and spearheaded introduction of errors and omissions coverage for school boards and municipalities.
In 1982, Kochheiser took over the presidency from Kelley, although the two continued to work together for the next decade, providing a sound philosophy and solid business practices. Kochheiser retired in 1991 with 41 years of employment with EMC. His only regret was that EMC didn’t top $1 billion in assets during his presidency. However, within months of his retirement, the 10-digit goal was reached. Kochheiser remained on the Board and affiliated boards for 17 more years, until 2008. He was inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame in 2009.