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Former ODU President to Discuss His Book, “The Caterpillar Way,” at Friends of the Libraries Program

jkoch-james-kochJames V. Koch

James V. Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics and President Emeritus of Old Dominion University, will be the guest speaker at a Friends of the Old Dominion University Libraries event on Friday, April 25, discussing his latest book, "The Caterpillar Way: Lessons in Leadership, Growth and Shareholder Value."

The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Learning Commons @ Perry Library. It is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Call Nicole Justice at 683-4141 to RSVP.

A book signing by Koch, ODU's sixth president, will follow the talk.

"The Caterpillar Way," co-authored by Koch and Craig T. Bouchard, explains how Caterpillar, the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment and diesel and natural gas engines, transformed from losing $1 million a day for three years in the early 1980s into, the authors argue, the best-managed company in the United States.

The book is based on an inside look at the company, and features exclusive interviews with top executives, board members, union officials and Wall Street analysts. It theorizes that analysts have consistently undervalued the company, and looks at long-term trends in mining and global resource trends, which offer an optimistic view for Caterpillar's future.

"The Caterpillar Way" chronicles how the company bounced back from its perilous financial situation with a dramatic reorganization and how its emphasis on core values edged up its margins even through difficult times.

Among Caterpillar's accomplishments was its rapid adoption of the Six Sigma approach, a method that provides organizations tools to improve the capability of their business processes. Other distinctions for the company included achieving success in labor negotiations and advancing globalization plans. Today, 70 percent of the company's revenue is earned from outside the United States.

Koch and Bouchard, who spent two years researching and writing "The Caterpillar Way," have a professional association going back 30 years. Bouchard met Koch when Bouchard was a student and varsity baseball player for Illinois State. Koch was then chairman of the school's economics department. "He's been my mentor my entire career," Bouchard said of Koch, who later served as college president at the University of Montana before coming to ODU.

Bouchard went on to a successful career in business, and is currently CEO and chairman of the board of Signature Group Holdings.

Koch served as president of ODU from 1990 to 2001. During his tenure, the university's annual contracts, grants and strategic alliances with regional organizations grew markedly. Between these regional efforts and other initiatives, ODU created more jobs than any other school in the state and added millions of dollars to the Hampton Roads economy.

After leaving the ODU presidency, Koch took a sabbatical and returned to the university in 2002 to teach economics. Since 2000, he has served as editor of the influential, annual State of the Region Report for the ODU Regional Studies Institute.

Koch is also the co-author of "America for Sale" and "Born Not Made: The Entrepreneurial Personality."