Rising Stars: Kevin Koch, of New Revolution Tools

Kevin Koch, with Revolution Lightboards, is a 2020 Rising Star. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly Telegraph Herald

Kevin Koch, 34, always has been a problem solver.

Growing up on a farm near Farley, Iowa, he enjoyed working with his hands, either to do a needed repair or just tinkering for fun. But his creative mind also would think of ideas that he didn’t know how to build — at least, not yet.

“I would daydream about a lot of stuff,” said Koch, the founder of New Revolution Tools and Revolution Lightboards. “My imagination was ahead of my hands.”

Degrees from Northwestern University gave him the skills to realize those ideas. He began working at FarmTek in Dyersville, Iowa, soon after graduation, and he rose to a management position in research and development.

Koch also started to explore his projects in his free time at home. One of those led to New Revolution Tools’ flagship product: A series of power drill drivers that latch onto the head of a screw to keep it firmly in place. The driver then automatically releases the screw as the component nears the surface.

The groundwork for Revolution Lightboards began around the same time. Koch began working with a professor at Northwestern who came up with a concept of a transparent whiteboard for video lectures.

Revolution Lightboards evolved from building and selling separate components, for customers to assemble, to also offering complete lightboards and studio recording equipment.

Koch launched both endeavors while continuing his full-time role with FarmTek. Eventually, he decided to focus full-time on his new businesses.

Koch has a small team of employees, and he encourages them to speak up about their ideas and ask questions to ensure the best solutions for their clients.

“The best idea must win,” he said. “It’s not about my ideas or what I prefer. If someone else on the team has a better idea, it will wipe out what I was thinking.”

His nominator, Trent Moeller, said Koch’s intelligence, leadership style and passionate work ethic make him a role model for anyone he meets.

“His character is unmatched when it comes to being kind, honest, responsible, respectful and hard-working,” Moeller wrote.

In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Koch has also been active in the Dubuque Jaycees, helping with several community outreach efforts.

“I just think the Jaycees have a fun mission, where there is a lot of personal development and there’s a lot of community involvement — volunteering, helping nonprofits, (and) putting on events that the community enjoys,” he said.

“I have a very solution-focused mindset, and I approach my team (of employees) in the same fashion. There’s always respect for the team, and I think that’s No. 1. You have to have that to be effective.”