As seen in the Tried & True Summer 2022 issue

A lot can happen in 24 years —that’s enough time for a newborn to grow into adulthood, for technology to progress leaps and bounds or for an entire world order to be shaken up by changing norms and circumstances. In John Danford’s case, 24 years is more than enough time to become a respected and valuable member of the ever-growing Fratco family. “It’d be 34 years if I hadn’t left and then come back,” notes Danford, referring to the decade he spent at another company before being asked to return by former Fratco CEO, Steve Overmyer. “As far as the actual technical name of what I do,” laughs Danford, “I’m not sure what you’d specify it as—but I run the dispatch for in-house sales here in the office yard.”

Perhaps Danford’s varied roles throughout his quarter-century with Fratco is why he doesn’t pay much mind to the detail of titles. Previously, Danford was loading trucks for Fratco himself, and he also worked in the office for nearly eight years as an assistant dispatcher. “Nothing’s the same. Everything’s always different in the day-to-day business of working with people,” reflects Danford when asked what he likes about working for Fratco. “You get all kinds of different types—different viewpoints and perspectives —from the employees you work with.”

In addition to all the variety, Danford cites Fratco’s recent and on-going expansion as a benefit of working at the company, with new opportunities for employee advancement created as Fratco continues to grow. Danford also alluded to Fratco’s generous retirement package as an important perk he’s looking forward to on the horizon. Retirement doesn’t seem to be in Danford’s immediate future, however, with his mind clearly focused on the here and now of the drainage pipe industry. When asked about the recent resin shortage, Danford had a lot to say about how it’s shaken up the sector, as well as the world overall.

“People don’t think about how much plastic impacts their day-to-day lives, how it’s constantly around them and constantly being consumed. You look at almost every industry, any product, and right from the manufacturing line all the way to packaging, it takes plastic to make it happen.”

Danford may have been one of the first in the industry to come face-to-face with the challenges of fluctuating resin prices. But as an old pro, he doesn’t begrudge the circumstances. Instead, Danford makes the most of the hand he’s been dealt.

“Of course the medical field is the top priority for the little resin supply there is,” he explains, “but we’re still pushing on and still making top quality product. That’s just life.”

When it comes to life in general, Danford shares Fratco’s top priority: family. Luckily, John’s many years with the company have made his coworkers feel like family, too.

“Everybody I deal with in the company feels like family,” says Danford. “The drivers and I, we all work hand-in-hand to get things done.”

Countless farms across the midwest—as well as Fratco itself—are grateful for the work Danford puts into drainage. One can only hope he plans to stay in the business for another decade or two.