Just last week Crain’s Chicago Business featured a company that’s located more than 6,000 miles away in South Korea, but whose chief executive officer graduated only 130 miles away – here at Gies College of Business.
Koo Ban-hak, ’95 ACCY, now runs Cuckoo Holdings, which is the company his father started in 1978. Its recipe for success is based on the most instrumental ingredient to Korean cooking.
As the Crain’s article states, “Rice is a staple for Koreans but … the connections is deeper, almost spiritual.” That’s one reason why Cuckoo gained about 70 percent of the country’s market share for rice cookers, easily outselling the competition.
With a distinctive sound during the cooking process, and now that its product is exported to more than two dozen countries, Cuckoo made its place in the niche market.
Still, challenges remain, as the article details. Rice consumption in South Korea reduced by about half in the past three decades, as other ingredients found acceptance. Also, the convenience of microwavable rice is more appealing to families on the go.
This Gies Business alumnus has kept a steady hand over the company though, as recent success shows. The Crain’s article showed that Cuckoo shares “returned 127 percent, including reinvested dividends, since its 2014 initial public offering in Seoul, outpacing the 20 percent return of the Kospi Index of 780 Korean companies.”