Born in Ankara in 1901, he studied at the Ankara High School. He began his business life in 1917.
In 1926, he took over his father's firm and registered it as "Koçzade Ahmet Vehbi" with the Ankara Chamber of Commerce. While dealing with commerce on one hand, he also became the representatives of foreign companies such as Ford and Standard Oil in Turkey and expanded his business. Later, he entered in contractual businesses.
In 1938 he took the first step towards institutionalization and founded Koç Ticaret A.?. in Istanbul.
Convincing General electric in 1948 to establish a bulb factory in Turkey, he entered into a joint venture and the factory commenced production in 1952. Considering charity works as a social responsibility, Koç started his attempts in the social field by institutions such as Vehbi Koç Student Dormitory (1946), Vehbi Koç Eye Bank at Ankara University, Faculty of Medicine (1963); Cardiology Institute at Istanbul University, Faculty of Medicine (1964), Turkish Education Foundation (1967), and METU Vehbi Koç Student Dormitory (1968).
Koç took crucial steps in industry during 1950s and made investments in local industry that would substitute imported goods. He realized local manufacture of many goods such as automotive, white goods, radiators, electronic appliances, textile, matches, etc.
In 1955, he established Arçelik, Turkey's largest private industrial company, and Türk Demir Döküm was established in 1954. Otosan, the first establishment in the Turkish automotive industry, commenced production in 1959; in 1962, Aygaz was established. He set up many more businesses and industries afterwards.
As the number of industrial establishments increased gradually, believing that private enterprises could only survive through institutionalization, Vehbi Koç founded Koç Holding, the first holding in Turkey, in 1963 to direct these from one center and to make the best source allocation for them. After foundation of the holding, establishment of new companies followed one after the other. Anadol, the first domestic car of Turkey, was released into the market in 1966.
Aiming to make investments in the agriculture sector, Vehbi Koç surveyed the opportunities in this sector for a long time. In 1967 he established TAT Tomato Paste Factory, the pioneer company which directed the agricultural potential of Turkey to import through contracted farm model.
In 1968 the biggest step was taken in Turkish Automotive Industry, FIAT and Tofa? were founded. In 1971, Tofa? commenced production of cars branded Murat named after Sultan Murat.
Having perceived the importance of export for the national economy very early, Vehbi Koç founded Ram which is the first exporter equity company of Turkey in 1970.
Vehbi Koç focused his attention on social services and foundation activities while he handed over the businesses he intended to do to the professional managers through the Holding.
With the inspiration he got in a trip abroad in 1967, he pioneered foundation of Turkish Educational Foundation in order to forward wreath donations to education.
In 1969, he founded Vehbi Koç Foundation to get into the act in the fields of education, health and culture. This foundation has realized numerous cultural, health and educational projects.
In 1976, Atatürk Library in Taksim was donated to Istanbul Municipality.
In 1980, Sadberk Han?m Museum, Turkey's first serious private museum was opened in memory of Mrs. Sadberk, the deceased wife of Vehbi Koç.
In 1987, Vehbi Koç Foundation The Koç High School teaching in English and in 1993 Vehbi Koç Foundation The Koç University commenced education.
In 1984, he retired and focused more on social activities.
Perceiving the importance of the population and family health issue of Turkey, Vehbi Koç founded Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation in 1985 and carried on its presidency until his decease.
In 1987, the International Chamber of Commerce declared Vehbi Koç the World Businessman of the Year. Mr.Rajiv Ghandi, the Prime Minister of India in person presented the plaquette to Mr.Koç in the ceremony held in New Delhi.
In 1994, the United Nations Organization awarded the Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation and its President due to their successful works. In 1973, the World Family Planning Award was given to Vehbi Koç by Boutros Gali, the U.N.General Secretary.
Among his that many pursuits, Vehbi Koç did not neglect to write book for the purpose of transferring his experiences to the future generations. His two books, “My Life Story” was published in 1973, and “My Memories, Vision, Advice” in 1987. Both of them were translated to English.
He described his own constitution in "Targets and Principles", a document he published for his companies, as following:
"My constitutional law is this: I exist if my country and my state exist. We all exist if there is democracy. We must put in our best efforts into strengthening the economy of our country. As our economy strengthens, democracy will take a stronger hold and our credibility in the world will increase".
Vehbi Koç lived 95 years passed full of the industrial, commercial and international partnerships, foundations, social services and education.
He established about 100 companies, created the turnover of 7,3 quadrillion TL in the combined sales of year 2000, employed about 46,000 direct employees, an establishment which exports around 1 billion Dollars in 75 years.
He is an exemplary businessman in industrialization, institutionalization and professional management by means of private sector as well as in education, health and social services through foundations.
For further information please refer to www.vehbikoc.gen.tr