As seen in the Tried & True Winter 2023 issue

Fratco believes that tomorrow belongs to those who build it, and we’re proud to be among the ranks of those who help move the industry forward every day. We also realize that our more recent accomplishments were only possible thanks to innovators of the past. Here are just a few milestone moments in engineering we’ve been fortunate to build upon, use as inspiration and see our customers benefit from in their businesses. A big thanks to all the brilliant thinkers involved in creating these incredible inventions.

Clay Tile
The Scraggs Patent Tile Machine (1830s)

After a Scottish immigrant named John Johnston proved that burying clay drain tile multiplied his farm’s yield, he wanted a way to share the benefits of this technology with his new country. Importing the Scraggs Patent Tile Machine, already popular in England where water management was better understood, became the solution. By making the mass-production of clay tile possible, this machine allowed the practice of agricultural drainage to increase farm yield across America.

The Buckeye Traction Digger
The Buckeye Traction Digger (1890)

The Scraggs Patent Tile Machine solved the problem of mass-producing early drainage systems, but
getting those systems into the ground was another issue completely. Before the invention of the Buckeye Traction Digger, installing clay tile in fields was a painstaking, laborious process of digging deep trenches by hand. Luckily, this ingenious device greatly lessened the labor required. Inventors would continue to improve upon the concept all the way up to the modern plastic pipe installation rigs our contractors use today.

High-density Polyethylene - HDPE
High-density Polyethylene – HDPE (1951)

Researchers from the Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma revolutionized plastics with the invention of a stiffer, more durable and more heat-resistant plastic called high-density polyethylene. Their discovery led to a multibillion dollar industry on which numerous sectors—including agricultural drainage—now depend on for materials.

Continuous Corrugated Pipe Extruding Machine
The Continuous Corrugated Pipe Extruding Machine (1961)

Europe has often lead the way on drainage technology, and this invention was no exception. Just as the Scraggs Patent Tile Machine made mass-producing clay tile possible, this device did the same for plastic pipe. That’s why Fratco ventured all the way to Germany in the 1970s to purchase this technology in partnership with other industry frontrunners throughout the Midwest.