Meet Adrianna Tiede

Algona Plant Office Manager

Building relationships with coworkers and customers is at the heart of Adrianna Tiede’s work ethic. Investing in people and taking a leap of faith when the opportunity presented itself is what brought her to Fratco in June 2020.

Born and raised in Le Center, Minnesota, Tiede came on board as an assistant. Months later, she was promoted to Office Manager. Her position keeps her on her toes as the days fly by in the blink of an eye. “There are phones to answer, sales orders to create and I love greeting the delivery drivers as the team loads pipe on the trucks before we send them on their way,” Tiede shares.

Tiede is no stranger to ag. Raised on a dairy farm, she was more than familiar with the importance of being a good steward of the ag world, including drainage solutions. She began her career as a truck-driving road warrior delivering pipe for another company. When Tiede learned Fratco was seeking office help in Algona, she was ready for a new challenge—one that married her farming and logistics knowledge while helping her branch out into a new skill set.

Learning the ropes of a new job can prove challenging. Tiede is quick to thank those who stepped in to help her learn her new role. “So many people were willing to help me. Other office managers would spend the day with me at the plant, helping me get my feet wet. The salespeople have been approachable when I had questions. I’ve never been afraid to pick up the phone to learn more about the pipe we produce or about Fratco,” she explains.

Tiede takes great pride in sharing and being a part of Fratco’s vision and values. She sees nothing ahead for the company but growth and opportunity. “There is nothing slow about Fratco. New business is picking up as we retain loyal customers. It’s a good thing: it speaks to the quality of pipe we produce and the level of respect we show to our clients,” Tiede states. She sees only growth and opportunity ahead for the company. “Everyone here is invested in Fratco because they invest in their employees.”

When Tiede talks to others in her community about Fratco, the quick turnaround of product surprises them the most. “People have asked how long some coils of pipe have been sitting on the property as if the stock has been there forever. They don’t realize our production capacity, nor how quickly we ship it out. They’re shocked to learn the coils catching their eye are brand new and probably on the next truck out,” she laughs.

For those considering Fratco as a potential employer, Tiede is nothing but encouraging. “There is so much potential here. There’s room to grow, knowledge to gain and a support system in place for you. When you work hard at Fratco, it does not go unnoticed. That’s encouraging when you’re looking for a place to build a career.”

Farm & Family

The Business of Family Business

For decades, Hollywood has shaped our view of agriculture through their storytelling lenses of what rural farm-living looks like. If you loved Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert’s 1965 sitcom Green Acres, then you witnessed a socialite uprooted from NYC when her lawyer- husband yearned for a simpler life. Children of the 1970s were convinced Little House on the Prairie was the real deal: outhouses, Nellie Olson- types and lemon verbena perfume. In the 1990s, we lived vicariously through Kevin Costner’s film Field of Dreams with the infamous line: “If you build it, he will come.” Life on the farm seems easy when storylines tie neatly into a bow at the end, don’t they?

These nostalgic and feel-good portrayals of ag families make for great cinema yet are not reality. What makes family farms tick, remain operational and keep generations of growers together is built upon the shoulders of others who came before them and a dedication to continuing the legacy. Although there are many Americans who have never stepped foot on a farm, growers are central to how we identify ourselves as a country: hard-working, roll- up-our-sleeves types—an image as Americana as the gold rush days and apple pie. Fratco knows that we help another farm, another family, invest in their livelihood when pipe rolls off our production line. That’s something we never take for granted.

Families who farm are invaluable and the largest food-sourcing contributor. 70% of the world’s food products come from family farms. They also make up 98% of the farming industry and 88% of overall ag production. According to the USDA, smaller operations tend to produce mainly poultry—along with eggs—and hay. Mid- to large-scale farms plant cotton, grains and oilseed. Dairy is what you’ll find on larger farms. Non-family and mega operations dominate beef and high-dollar crops like vegetables, fruit, tree nuts and nursery or greenhouse products.

Not all family farms are small operations. Many are prospering, super-sized empires. They’ve pivoted production during rough economic spells and drought. There’s enormous respect for the fresh-out-of-college faces returning home to help modernize and embrace ag tech, identify inefficiencies and make shifts towards more profitability. Cost and efficiency are constantly analyzed, and additional money makers—like agritourism, family farm days and pumpkin picking—help carry on the farming heritage while adding to the bottom line. This legacy and lifestyle is not for the faint of heart: it’s blood, sweat and tears around the clock.

The Family Farming Advantages

Those who stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the field reap what they sowed together. Children who grow up in the family ag business have early exposure to skills and life lessons others do not: cause and effect, input and output, distribution and profit and what physical labor and time-sensitive tasks genuinely mean. The responsibility modeled and learned is something little ones carry with them for a lifetime along with other lessons that follow.

HONORING COMMITMENTS

The Musketeer pledge of “all for one and one for all” applies to families working together. Families share a bond and an understanding of one another. Their beliefs and goals are usually aligned, meaning forecasting together can be a less bumpy road. A massive sense of pride stems from knowing you hail from something greater established by ancestors and carries on through the family.

STABILITY

Having an aligned vision for the future matters. Long-term success depends on meeting future goals while remaining agile and open to change. Have a current business plan with objectives and parameters everyone can agree upon and update when necessary helps future scaling. Whether disagreements arise or changes must be made, guidelines and processes in place can make it easier for everyone.

LOYALTY

Trust is the basis of a business. Families who face adversity find themselves stronger together on the other side. It’s a competitive advantage that helps generations survive and build. No matter how dedicated other employees may be, those that share a kinship add instant dimension with their powerful bond.

COMMON VALUES

Family is family. That doesn’t mean 100% agreement on every facet of farm operations. Friends and acquaintances will come and go on to other things. Yet families share a sense of purpose and pride while framing the bigger picture of the values and history that hold them together.

COST EFFICIENCY

Liability, red tape and regulations. These parameters are a bit different inside a family businesses than they are inside corporate operations. Sunup to sundown hours is part of the job. Children learn everything from operating machinery to handling livestock. Functions and responsibilities that would leave corporate human resource departments scratching their heads give family farms an edge in performance.

Generational farming family

The Family Farming Challenges

Though the benefits are aplenty, the stressors of the family business are ten-fold. Profits are at the mercy of local and global market prices. Access to vendors and the market isn’t always equitable. Mother Nature? She’s fickle. The up-and-down costs for fuel and equipment upkeep can flux week by week, season after season. Consumer demand and competitors round out just some of the industry woes farmers experience. These pressures have been around for decades, yet the combined dedication to making the business work is the silver lining.

CONFLICT

No one loves harder or knows the buttons to push better than family. Being in business together can become personal and lead to unanticipated issues. Death, retirement, divorce or bankruptcy can cripple operations and mean the end of the farm. Everyone’s role is vital. A business that runs smoothly must have all players working well together side-by-side and communicating.

SKILLS VS. EXPERIENCE

We all have different skillsets and experiences that round out our personal and professional lives. Placing family members into roles strictly due to keeping conflict at bay, hierarchy, entitlement or fear of offending is not moving your business forward. Policies and a clear understanding when placing family members in positions they are best suited for can save time, heartache and relationships.

DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITIES

Making decisions must be business- based, not emotional. What’s best for the longevity of the family business means what’s best for operations and not one individual. That can prove challenging when it comes to family. Objectivity matters when promoting, hiring or sliding family members into certain positions.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Not all family businesses can support multiple households. If you have children that “want in” as adults, will the margin cleared each month meet payroll expectations for everyone? Facing the economic reality and honest conversations about farms transitioning through the generations will save everyone hardship and misunderstandings in the long run.

WHO’S NEXT IN LINE?

As with any job, people come and people go. Not everyone raised in a generational family business takes over one day. Children who feel pressured to step into a role they do not want can bring about tension and unhappiness. Hold honest conversations about expectations. Parents may envision their child taking over the business and have no idea that other dreams consume their child’s thoughts. Open dialogue is the only way to know future expectations and ambitions.

As a four-generation-strong family operation, Fratco understands. The reality is being part of a family business is tough work. Each business is as unique as the challenges they face together. At the end of the day, business remains business. Family is what binds us together.

Dry Spell

Navigating Drainage

Farming seems like a pretty simple process, right? Till the soil, plant seeds, nurture plants and, finally, it’s harvest time. If farming were that easy, growers would be delighted, and their yields would thrive no matter the climate, weather or terrain; a little piece of heaven on earth.

The world of agriculture is complex. The last thing farmers want is all their hard work happening in vain if the ground is not up to par to meet crop needs. From operational logistics and keeping an eye on changing weather to the science of growing and best commodity choices for the year, it’s complicated. One of those complications is soil conditions, and understanding what your soil is composed of means working smarter, not harder.

There are six soil types: sand, clay, silt, peat, chalky and loam. Although the earth provides natural resources and vital nutrients for plants, challenges and limitations can abound without proper drainage. Installing pipe is the logical step for sites and areas contending with wetter soil conditions. But why would pipe be necessary for areas of the US where retaining groundwater seems more critical than whisking it away? That’s where Fratco drainage solutions come in.

Drainage systems can benefit sites even during dry years. It may seem counterintuitive, yet parched fields surviving a season of drought can flourish and benefit from having the correct drainage in place. Groundwater stored beneath pipe installation remains untouched— reserves at the ready when needed.

Pipe removes excess water only, not every drop, so plenty remains for healthy plant growth. In addition, advancements in controlled drainage allow farmers to utilize their pipe for potential water storage.

Adding pipe to your infrastructure when a dry summer is forecasted
is a plus. It’s a solid investment in the property and future business. When you have the perfect pipe for your soil type, plant root systems thrive, meaning better yields and an excellent return at market. Fratco hears time and again how farmers have recouped their investment—and then some—after installing drainage. It matters most at market time when there’s more product to sell and increased productivity adds value to land too. For growers and their businesses, that means everything.

Poor drainage can be a problem in humid and dry areas of the country, and both nature and humans play a major role. Layers of soil can be semi- permeable or impermeable, meaning water is partially or entirely blocked from passing through to water root systems. Overwatering and improper irrigation cause issues too. If your property is close to a water source— like a reservoir or along the coast—it affects natural drainage capacity. Canal seepage loss happens when adjacent land experiences downward and lateral water movement into the soil, then rendered useless for irrigation. All of these situations present major problems. Access to water stores means everything whether you’re in the business of ag or not.

Living in coastal areas and southern states means high water tables
with ranges falling between 10 to 100 feet above sea level. Area farms, residences and commercial construction benefit from installing drainage. Water table management allows the water supply to be maintained and controlled. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to change the overall water table
height. However, you can change the conditions underground so crops flourish. Drainage makes a big difference when you’re battling the elements. Stay a step ahead of problems before they become major issues with Fratco. We’re here to help!

Sentimental Journey

Rob Ash & Kyle Tressler

Hoeing Supply, Inc

Pennsylvania civic leader Dr. Benjamin Rush was a physician, politician, humanitarian, educator and one of the historymakers who helped pen then added his signature to the Declaration of Independence. Born in 1746, Dr. Rush was the figurehead Rush County and the town of Rushville, Indiana were named for. It’s also where you’ll find Hoeing Supply, Inc.

While in high school, Kevin Hoeing began working at what was once
a neighborhood plumbing supply shop. In the 1980s, Hoeing had the opportunity to purchase the business from his predecessor. A new business was born, and what a metamorphosis it’s had over the last thiry years. The company now serves Southcentral and Southeastern Indiana with product lines including plumbing, electrical, HVAC, cabinets, countertops, appliances, lighting, fans and—of course—drainage.

Rob Ash began his career at the shop thirty-five years ago by stocking shelves and delivering products to customers. Kyle Tressler joined the team in 2006. “I married into the family business,” Tressler laughs referring to his wife, Anne, Hoeing’s daughter. In 2012, Mr. Hoeing hung up his sales hat and Ash and Tressler took over the business. It’s been the perfect match for the resourceful duo who have a relationship that’s based on respect, loyalty and camaraderie.

Company responsibilities are divided not by rank and employee number, but by the philosophy that if you have time to lean, then you have time to clean. “We all do a little bit of everything at Hoeing Supply. We don’t consider ourselves experts in one area because we’re all willing to do a little bit of everything when customers walk through the door,” Ash shares. He adds, “Things like stocking and sweeping aren’t delegated here. If you’re not busy, then it’s time to stock shelves or grab a broom.”

Business is bustling and booming for these Fratco supply partners with stores in Rushville and Greensburg. There’s a sentimentality when the duo speak about the simultaneous growth of their business and Fratco’s. It’s a journey they are proud of. “Steve Overmyer visited several times to check in with us, make sure all was well and the pipe being delivered was up to par. That evolved into Chris taking over the family business and investing in its growth. Fratco remains a practical company that continually introduces new and innovative products, with a focus on customers. At Hoeing Supply, Inc., we listened to customers’ needs and grew our business yet remained a name you can depend upon. It’s a journey we understand and know quite well, just like Fratco,” says Ash.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when the partners discuss why they remain loyal Fratco customers. They trust the product and the company that crafts it. “Fratco is a premier brand,” Tressler shares. “It doesn’t matter who we talk to—contractors buying product or farmers with pipe installed on their land—they know the Fratco name, they understand the quality and that makes our jobs a lot easier.

“There’s a mutual respect between us and Fratco,” Ash adds when asked why Fratco is the brand he trusts.

Kyle Tressler
Rob Ash

“We try to provide the best customer service possible. If there’s an issue or problem, Fratco is the first to stand behind what they sell and make it right.”

As a manufacturing leader, Fratco retains that personal touch their clients have relied on for decades. From their humble beginnings in Francesville, Indiana, to expanding into four locations dotted along the Midwest, it’s important they maintain that hometown-feel. That comes with building relationships, and sometimes finding ways to surprise clients—in a good way. “Our Fratco sales rep is a magician!” Ash laughs. “When we have an emergency or what I call a ‘need-pipe-now’ order, Fratco always makes pipe appear. Once, we had a Friday morning order that was slated for Monday delivery because that was the fastest they could make it happen. Friday afternoon, hours after hanging up the phone, in rolls the Fratco truck with our Monday order. We don’t question how they make things happen, but they definitely know how to pull off surprises.”

From their regular delivery driver who always stays for a cup of joe before hitting the road, to their sales rep, Brendan, who grew up in the ag and water drainage industries, the knowledge, generosity and pride the Fratco team has shown Ash and Tressler are attributes they carry into their work ethic and company values too. “When I think about what stands out about Fratco—the attributes that make them who they are—I just hope our customers would say the same things about us,” Tressler says. From the longevity of their business and unlimited potential ahead, cheers to a blue-skied journey ahead for the entire team at Hoeing Supply, Inc and the communities they serve.

Meet Willie Parish

Manufacturing Superintendent

Since 1987, Willie Parish has been part of the Fratco family. Recently promoted to Manufacturing Superintendent, Willie began where so many start their careers at the four-generation strong business. “What did I do previously?” he laughs, recalling all the stops along the way, “A little bit of everything.”

Parish knows the ins and outs of what goes into a day’s work within the manufacturing giant, from running the line to maintaining safety plant-wide. He understands the ingenuity and technology behind every inch of pipe produced and appreciates the hands that craft it. Now, he takes that experience with him traveling between Fratco’s plants, logging a lot of miles since taking this new position in January 2021.

When asked about what’s most interesting about his work, Parish passionately details the way Fratco hums on the production line. Installing innovative equipment, testing the latest product and seeing it all come together is what he loves most. “When new lines launch and we get them up to speed…that’s a definite joy of my job,” he beams.

Hard work, determination and growth are kindred themes for both Fratco and Parish. When he stepped into the Francesville plant as a new employee nearly thirty-five years ago, there was one production facility. Four now dot the Midwest: the flagship Indiana location, one in Illinois and two in Iowa. As the company has grown, so has Parish. “Before, I saw my job as more day-to- day. Now, I look at the big picture for the company, where we’ve come since the early days and the road ahead.”

Whether it’s one plant or four, CEO Chris Overmyer and the leaders before him have always worked to ensure employees feel like family. Parish cherished this atmosphere from the very beginning. He is also quick to applaud Fratco for supporting education and job advancement as an extension of their investment in people. “If you work hard, show up and take the initiative, Fratco wants to see you succeed,” he heartily affirms.

Parish sees superior product and quality pipe as two reasons customers continue choosing Fratco. As he drives along the countryside—even during hunting season on his day off—he’ll stop when he sees pipe going into the ground. He can’t help himself. He knows customers trust Fratco and wants to connect with contractors every chance he gets. That customer service aspect is what it all comes down to for Parish. He’s grateful for the loyalty, commitment and trust customers have built with the company through the years, especially this last one. “I want to thank our customers for their patience this year. Between the pandemic and the current resin issues,
I want them to know we’re going to continue doing everything we can to bring them the pipe they rely on us to provide.”
Because for Parish and Fratco, only the best will do—always.

New Fratco Spaces & Places

Employee Break Room

When you work in manufacturing, adding extra sunshine into the day makes everything brighter. That was one of the ambitious goals Fratco brought to the design table when planning the new employee break room at its Francesville location. Wrapped in windows, the break room is warm and inviting with thoughtful touches throughout. New tables and chairs, a big-screen television, vending machines and a large refrigerator to store lunches are just a few of the amenities you’ll find.

More attentive details abound, including a computer station with a two-fold purpose. To change the dynamic of internet equity in rural areas, Fratco decided to make a difference. “We understand that not everyone has access to the internet at home,” comments Fratco’s Human Resources Team. “That’s why we decided it was important to install a computer in the break room.” It also provides access to Fratco’s online tools, such as the Employee Support Fund. “Providing an employee-specific computer breaks any barriers to accessing information or applying for financial assistance when our work-family needs it the most.”

The Wellness Center

The Wellness Center gives any fitness center a run for their money: 24-hour access for employees and their families, state-of-the-art elliptical machines, treadmills and rows of free-weights. New restrooms, complete with showers, make it easier for team members to hit the treadmill before work, jump on the elliptical during their lunch break or pump iron and then rinse off at the end of the day. Fratco employees agree, with one commenting, “Chris Overmyer, Bill Champion, Craig Douglas and the team who planned and executed this new area went above and beyond. Their commitment to and appreciation for their employees shines through in both of these new spaces. They knocked it out of the park.”

Greener Fairways & Good Deeds

How drainage made a big difference for a golf course and their community

When it comes to golf course planning, a developer’s focus is location, location, location. For landscape architects and contractors creating a scenically manicured 18 hole experience, their mantra is drainage, drainage, drainage.

Having the right pipe in place for specific terrains and soil types saves a substantial amount of water. Perfect conditions on the greens are critical, much like they are in the agricultural fields. Both require solutions for heavy downpours, standing water and drainage reliability. The water footprints left behind in both golf and ag industries impose on the planet’s resources. That’s why Fratco takes sustainability seriously. Soggy fields do not allow seeds to grow well. Golf course managers cannot book tee times on flooded or desert-dry courses. Farmers cannot have adequate crop growth if their soil is dehydrated. Players cringe at teeing off on ground reminiscent of concrete floors. Finding the perfect balance with the proper drainage makes all the difference.

WATER USAGE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Claiming the golf industry uses a hefty amount of water to maintain its aesthetic is an understatement. Private and municipal courses around the US pump a total of 2.08 billion gallons of water daily to irrigate turfs. That’s 130,000 gallons per course, per day, which is a lot in terms of output. It can make it even more challenging in areas with considerable drought or water restrictions. Golf course drainage and efficient watering go hand-in-hand. Watering plants and greens by manually, not full-blast systems on timers, is time consuming yet saves water. Groundskeepers know turning on a deluge of sprinklers is not always necessary nor efficient watering. Measuring water amounts is a precise science all its own, consisting of soil measurements, moisture readings and adjustments for rain showers or even blazing heat. Too much water on the greens kills grass. Without enough watering, the grass dies. Finding the perfect balance takes time and patience—just another day at the office for those in the greens business.

WATER ISSUES AT EXTREMES

Investing in the environment— installing drainage—keeps resource vulnerability low and negative impact at bay so operations can harmonize and work within their habitat. There is a purpose behind shaping and constructing golf course drainage layouts. They consider the area’s soil conditions, the best turf for the climate and whether grass dormancy is a good thing in the regions experiencing intense seasons. Grounds that consist of constantly shifting soil due to weather or climate require meticulous surveying, a hindrance to busy maintenance schedules that could be served elsewhere.

In golf, saving and redirecting water matters. Courses with water issues tend to lean towards extremes: unplayable, deluged fairways and greens or arid, desert-like conditions. Nowhere for the water to retreat to or mounting watering bills to keep it playable. This is why having the right pipe in place matters, whether a course is located in Nevada’s mountains or a Midwestern valley. Lush, carpeted greens must be the norm, not the exception, to keep tee times on the books. Sloping hills, waterways, rock formations and intricate landscapes are all part of watershed planning. Whether they are artificial or natural features, watersheds are drainage basins that channel water towards outflow points. These catchments whisk water away from the greens towards larger pools to draw upon later.

KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO IMPROVE THE GREENS

Facility managers know the pressure of keeping courses ready for play. Days with golfers scheduled to tee off back-to-back along with inclement weather can pose a challenge. When the soil under the turf is compacted from foot traffic pressure or overloaded by saturation, it needs as much intervention as it can receive.

When course managers and groundskeepers have aerated, reseeded, reduced watering and tried every trick in the turf management book on saturated or dehydrated grounds, it’s time to invest in new drainage. Installing pipe removes groundwater that inhibits play, builds up water stores and provides golfers those coveted greens they dream of playing on. Although golf course drainage projects can vary in size and scope, not all greens require a complete demo of the property to improve. For smaller installs, areas are player-ready a day or so after pipe installation.

The process of installing pipe is simple. First, the site is visited. The greens and fairways are surveyed to note valleys, slopes and other natural or manmade characteristics. It’s imperative to establish the best direction for drainage design from the tee box to the sand traps. Next, the sod is cut and carefully rolled to replace later. Once the pipe is installed, a greens mix is applied. Its job is to direct water towards the pipe and the water stores. The sod is replaced precisely and tamped until level. Once the greens are blown and debris is removed, it’s game time. Players can tee off and grounds managers can rest easy knowing the rainiest or driest of days are no match for Fratco products.

Installing pipe is a win-win. Drainage means the courses are available for play even after the heaviest of storms and the clouds are long gone. When turf managers consider the price of having to cancel tee times due to oversaturated courses versus the investment in drainage solutions, contractors hear from clients they wish they had made the leap sooner.

HOW FRATCO IS HELPING MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Dow Dellinger is one of the general managers of Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello, Indiana. Golf has been one of the loves of his life for over 45 years. Dellinger has played many courses and knows what makes good turf. When you ask about his ideal day on the greens, he laughs. “With my game, there is no perfect day anymore.” With his busy schedule, Dellinger is just happy to get out and play from time-to- time. Yet the perfect day and the perfect course eluded him in Monticello.

For years, the Tippecanoe Country Club’s golf course experienced multiple water issues. This golf course is essential to area residents who love to play and whose children attend affordable camps and learn to play the game. On the back nine, where the drainage system met the pond, flooding ruined turf and would render several holes unplayable for days after torrential rains. Drainage was not happening efficiently. The galvanized pipe installed decades before was filled with mud. There was definitely a need for improvement.

Always ready to lend a hand in the community, Fratco worked with Dellinger and the country club’s team in 2019 by donating pipe to improve drainage. “We could never have completed the work without Fratco,” Dellinger quickly adds as he recalls the story. He also mentions a relic unearthed as repairs were underway. “After we took away the galvanized steel drainage, we noticed original clay tile underneath. It was practically pristine. After wiping the dirt from the company imprint, we realized it was Fratco’s.” Estimated that it was installed in the 1950s, it was a fantastic find and no surprise to Fratco that 70 years later, it remained in like-new condition.

Once the new Fratco pipe was in place, the change was immediate. No more flooding. No more damaged turf. Lots of players on the course. There was another surprising benefit Dellinger mentioned. “There are homes built along the back nine of the course that had experienced water issues for years.” Flooded basements. Standing water in yards. A real mess for neighbors. This Fratco fix on the course became an unforeseen solution. “The homeowners were thrilled,” Dellinger shares. “Without Fratco, this would’ve never happened, and our project wouldn’t have been completed.” A thirty-year problem for those with homes on the county roads behind the club was now over. It’s incredible how one random act of kindness led to something greater for the neighborhood at-large.

Yet the giving didn’t stop with Fratco’s donation two years ago. The Tippecanoe Country Club continues passing it on. During the summer days of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, when golf courses could once again open to players, the club welcomed children to play for free. “We are a part of a community that believes in giving back to others,” Dellinger shares. “Fratco made that possible, and we will never forget it.”

Fratco drainage installation at Tippecanoe Country Club

Growing Hometown Roots with Eads & Son Bulldozing

The Wabash River snakes through a series of towns and cities that generations of Midwestern families have called home. Where it branches into the Salamonie River, you’ll find Lagro, Indiana. Founded in 1835, Lagro is a cozy community made up of generations of residents who love their tight-knit hometown. It is also where you’ll find Eads & Son Bulldozing, owned by Fratco partners and cousins Tadd and Scott Eads.

Established in 1968, Eads & Son began with one bulldozer and the determination of Ronnie Eads. If you ask Scott what inspired his father to become his own boss and launch the family business, you’ll hear the word “opportunity.” Something Fratco is no stranger to as a business who loves partnering with entrepreneurs. “My dad started in the ag business as a farmer and also filled silos,” Scott shares. “My dad saw an opportunity to branch into other areas of agriculture and take on construction as well.” Scott grew up working alongside his father and saw the potential in helping run the family business. When you look at the services Eads offers their customers, one would wonder what the dynamic duo of Scott and Tadd does not provide. Their list includes construction site prep, excavation, backhoe services, trucking material to and from sites, retention ponds, wood clearing, septic repair, new and resurfaced driveways, and last yet never least—farm drainage.

When asked when he came to work alongside his uncle and cousin, Tadd shares, “It’s been so long since I’ve been here, and Eads is such a big part of my history, that I have no idea when I came on board,” he laughs.

Scott adds, “Tadd showed up to help one day, and my dad wouldn’t let him leave.” As radio personality and storyteller Paul Harvey once coined, now you know the rest of the story regarding these cousins and entrepreneurs.

Scott and Todd Eads

Closeness is a huge component of what makes their combined efforts in business flourish. It’s also what Scott and Tadd admire about Fratco. The businessmen appreciate and value the way the company attends to their needs. Customers since the late ‘80s, the camaraderie the Eads feel with their current Fratco sales rep, Chris Calisto, makes their jobs installing pipe that much easier. To add a little more humor to the story, the Eadses report that, conveniently, all of their Fratco representatives through the years have been named “Chris.” “I think we are on Chris 3.0 by now,” they laugh.

When asked how the cousins were introduced to Fratco products, they were investigating different lines of pipe and took a long hard look at several manufacturers. The cost was a key factor, yet other items were essential to check off the list when choosing a partner. “We were comparing costs for a job,” Tadd shares, “and when it came down to price, value and customer service, Fratco was the only choice for us.”

The list of benefits stemming from the Eads’ relationship with Fratco is miles long, a lot like the pipe they’ve installed for customers over the years. Trust is built and earned in any relationship, whether it’s business or personal. Tadd is quick to interject what it is about Fratco and why they keep coming back for more pipe. “Fratco always stands behind their products—100%. That’s something we do in our business too. Those are the kind of people we want to work with.”

There is a reason family businesses tend to partner with one another. The thread of hard work and knowing that at the end of the day your name is above the door means everything to small businesses continuing to flourish. When the Eads ponder the Fratco qualities that keep them loyal customers, dependability is at the top of their list. “You can always count on your product showing up and to spec,” Scott testifies. “It’s rare, but when we need replacement pipe, they’re on it. If you have a problem, they make it right.”

Being vital contributors to your hometown is something both Fratco and the Eads family believe in. That’s why the business partners take
great pride in their work. They also care deeply about their community and giving back. They donate their time and talents to The Community Foundation of Wabash County to help revitalize their hometown. As with many other small towns, Lagro is going through a historical rehabilitation downtown. In the 1960s, 750 people called Lagro home. The last census showed that this town, which lies between Huntington and Wabash, reports just over 400 residents. Once prosperous as a transportation hub on the Wabash and Erie Canal, today’s Lagro advocates are dedicated to seeing the area resurge. Members who are passionate about improving the area have seen it happen in other small towns in Indiana and beyond. They believe Lagro is no exception. Scott, Tadd and their crews have installed new water and sewer lines and hauled gravel to the new River Walk site. While construction of some areas remains underway, a new public pavilion, biking trail, boat ramp and public restrooms are complete.

When you’re trusted and well known in your community, there is a sense of pride that permeates everything you do. From how Scott and Tadd divide work responsibilities to their equipment always being ready to go and in top form, they care about how they represent themselves to their customers. “When you’re around in business for a long time, it’s because you’re trusted in your community,” Scott shares. With each having their roles—Tadd handles farm drainage while Scott takes commercial and residential calls—it keeps them twice as productive in the town of Lagro they both love and call home.

2021 Trends

Keep your eyes on these areas of agribusiness

Agriculture’s influence is global. Local and international growers and producers have a strong voice that sets the industry’s tone for the year. From career changes to choosing new crops to invest in, here are trends to keep an eye on in 2021.

NEW PEOPLE

Clock-punchers are leaving their 9-to-5 jobs for more meaningful careers, and ag will continue welcoming new employees and entrepreneurs into the fold. As established agribusiness owners—farmers and installers—begin eyeing retirement, this influx of industry newcomers fares well for both parties. Owners can mentor the next generation while workers gain both business and hands-on skills.

MORE ROI FOR SMALL FARMERS

Less than half of all farms in the U.S. are categorized as large operations. Compared to 2020, experts predict a 9% jump in growth and income for small farms. This bottom-line increase may leave room for investment
in new equipment, land improvements—such as drainage—and more employees. Expanding business opportunities, like agritourism or new product production, are also on the rise, adding to end-of-year profits.

HEMP FARMING

What’s the buzz? The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill legalized hemp as a viable crop, leaving nothing but opportunity when it comes to growing, selling and storing this booming crop. Needing less water and fewer pesticides to flourish than cotton, hemp fiber is a sustainable product to consider adding to growers’ portfolios. By 2025, hemp is expected to blossom into a $26.6B business, which can mean huge returns for Fratco contractors and their customers when it comes to additional field drainage.

TECH BOOM

When it comes to the advantages of tech, we have three highlights worth mentioning. Ag drones are here to stay: Their data is beneficial to farmers and installers who—literally—need to see the bigger picture out in the fields. Also, pinpointed weather forecasting is becoming increasingly more accurate, allowing better weather predictions locally so installs and harvests can beat the rain. Lastly, lightweight graphene is providing soil condition data to farmers relying on science to choose the best future crop for their soil conditions while monitoring current seedling growth.

SOCIAL MEDIA

If you’re not connected, you should be. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok help agribusinesses speak to their customer-base directly. Currently, 40% of all farmers are on Facebook, and they acknowledge that interacting on platforms connects people to their work’s importance and reaps marketing results. From posting videos of pipe installs to promoting a family farm day event, social media provides a look into farm and field life that many never see up close.

WATER USAGE

Agriculture uses 80% of all water in the United States. That’s why customers will continue installing pipe for long-term drainage solutions in tandem with water-saving practices. From creating eco-friendly water-routing systems to optimizing the time between planting and harvesting, Fratco knows agribusinesses are looking for ways to respect water sustainability while maintaining profitability. When customers are ready to put our pipe to work, we’re here to help!

New to Fratco – The UC 5XX

Innovation is the name of the game here at Fratco. That’s why we’ve partnered with Unicor to bring their newest technology to our production line. The UC 5XX is a flexible, powerful and efficient tool that allows a new level of throughputs and quality in flexible, small diameter, dual-wall pipe.

The UC 5XX is a marvel in corrugated pipe manufacturing. Compatible with the wide range of products Fratco offers our customers, this machine can pivot production quickly and easily, cutting turnaround time in half. It also gives Fratco total control of pressure and temperature, making it energy and time efficient.

Our partnership with Unicor is just another way Fratco is ramping up production and providing the high-quality, lasting drainage solutions you’ve come to expect.