As seen in the Tried & True Winter 2021 issue

Ty Sparrow learned at a young age that when opportunity knocks to quickly open the door before the moment might pass him by. Ty, the owner of Dirt Works Drainage & Excavation LLC, was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. As a young man, he launched his first business: lawn care and snow removal. Customers depended year-round on the grade-schooler to keep their yards and driveways pristine. Ty’s drive and passion to keep hustling and moving ahead in business are what led him to become the hardworking, self-made Fratco partner he is today.

Ty was born and raised in Dwight, Illinois. Seventy-five minutes southwest of Chicago and an hour northeast of Bloomington, you’ll find this village in Livingston County, where close to 4,000 people call home. In 1854, railroad surveyors and engineers descended upon the area to establish a section of the Chicago-St. Louis railway. Not only did these men claim three-quarters of the acreage for themselves, but they also gave the small community its name. They chose to name the area Dwight, after Henry Dwight, a New York tycoon who heavily invested in the railway system. The original small-town charm remains, as do the familiar and friendly faces of those who’ve called Dwight home most of their life. It’s also how Ty was able to connect quickly to farmers who required drainage, continue his relationship with Fratco and build his business.

Ty began working in the drainage industry ten years ago. While attending college to earn degrees in automotive technology and engineering, evenings and weekends were spent helping a local contractor install pipe back home. Ty was a fast learner, enjoyed the work, and kept his business-ears open. “I heard him explain to prospective customers that he was at least two years out schedule-wise on installations, and there was no way he could fit the job into an already packed year. That’s when I realized there was money to be made and people who needed help in their fields sooner rather than later.”

Ty launched Dirt Works Drainage & Excavation LLC in 2016. “I started the business with small, simple tile repair jobs and did a lot of juggling to take on bigger projects with very little equipment. Finally, I had enough jobs on the books and collateral in the bank to buy more machinery. My business just blew up from there.”

Ty began building a relationship with Fratco in those early days of working for another contractor. That was when he met Chad, his current sales rep. “My transition from working for someone to becoming my own boss was seamless with Fratco. I was already ordering pipe and making the calls for my former boss, so the day I launched my company and called in my order, I said, ‘Hey, I need pipe. And by the way, you can bill it to me.’” Ty remembers that once Chad’s shock and awe wore off, he congratulated him and quickly set him up with an account as an independent contractor—a milestone to celebrate indeed. “Fratco never misses a beat. They were ready and willing to back my business immediately,” he reflects.

When it comes down to why Fratco is the pipe of choice for Ty, he doesn’t mince words. “They just get it done. No matter what time of day—and it’s always late at night when I call—Fratco gets me exactly what I need, to spec, the next day.” Although he’s worked with farmers who ask about installing pipe manufactured by other companies, Ty is quick to tell them why sticking with Fratco is the way to go—period. “From beginning to end, Fratco always does it right, and when they have to, they make it right. Their reputation means everything to them as it does to me and my business.”

Time is money. Not only for farmers looking for water drainage solutions in their fields but also for the installers waiting on pipe to
be delivered. Ty hears from other drainage company reps frequently, asking him to give their product a shot. “The guarantees and customer service just aren’t there like they are with Fratco. Timelines matter in my business. When someone tells me that it’ll be two weeks or so before I can get delivery on product, that doesn’t work for my customers or me. Fratco always delivers to my jobsite with no guessing about when the truck will be there.”

When it comes to the benefits of working with a tried-and-true company like Fratco, Ty knows that along with longevity and solid construction, his customers are receiving the best pipe in the business. “Fratco’s product is top quality. It’s rare when I have an issue, but when I do, they make it right immediately with no questions asked.” A testament to Fratco’s long-standing truth that the technology and innovation that goes into our line of products matter, and when issues occur, making it right is what we do. “They stand by the integrity of their product. Fratco’s reputation means everything to them. Working with a company like that means they will do whatever they have to do at the end of the day to care for their customers,” Ty testifies.

The relationships Fratco builds with its contractors makes Ty feel like one of the family and not just another job number. Regular business hours are a foreign idea in the drainage industry. Long days in the field and calling in orders late at night are the norm. “When I call Fratco, someone always picks up the phone. I’m not sent to voicemail. I’m not told to call back between 9 and 5. They are ready and willing to fill my order for the next day.”

For customers looking for the best drainage pipe company to partner with, Ty says to look no further than Fratco. “They are straight shooters who have nothing but the best product available. There is no hemming and hawing around with the sales reps. They are friendly people who get the deal done and are happy to do whatever they can to get you what you need. There’s no back and forth. No empty promises.”

Downtime seems laughable to the man who has worked hard to build his company from the literal ground up. When Ty heads into town for dinner, relaxing is the last thing he’s able to do. “Work is always on my mind. Whether I see a customer out who wants to chat or someone who I’d like to do business with, I’m always in work mode and ready for that conversation,” Ty laughs.

With business booming, Ty has decided to add another employee into the mix: his mom. “I needed some help in the office, and it was the perfect time to bring Mom on board to help me clean up the mess in the office that I always seem to make.” Families working together is the thread that has kept many agribusinesses alive through the centuries and a common theme of the contractors Fratco has come to know and build relationships with. Their beginnings are humble, much like our own.

Ty Sparrow has an excellent head for business, is a man of his word and takes the utmost pride in his work. “I’ve been in this business since I was eighteen-years-old. It’s a part of my life, and I’m here to stay.” From a grade-school boy who mowed lawns and plowed snow to the successful businessman we see before us today, Fratco knows nothing is ahead but more opportunity for Ty and Dirt Works Drainage & Excavation. We’re honored to be a part of his story.