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Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow

Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow
  • Born: October 20, 1922, Bucklin, Missouri

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0255
Interview Dates: July 20, 2002 and October 2, 2003 and February 8, 2004
Location: Loveland, Colorado; Seattle, Colorado
Interviewers: Arthur Daemmrich and Arnold Thackray
No. of pages: 103
Sponsor: Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation
Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow begins the interview* with anecdotes of Clifford C. Hach as a young, inquisitive child growing up on a farm and the effects of the Great Depression on the Hach family. Despite financial difficulties, the Hach family encouraged Clifford to attend Iowa State University where he met his future wife, Kathryn Carter. Similar to Clifford Hach, Hach-Darrow grew up on a farm during the Great Depression, but spent much of her early childhood riding in and flying her father's Eagle Rock biplane. Raising turkeys in order to finance her college education, Hach-Darrow decided to pursue home economics at Iowa State. Clifford and Kathryn were married in June 1943 after a yearlong courtship. Hach-Darrow discusses the responsibilities of raising their three children—Mary, Bruce, and Paul—maintaining a steady income, and developing a company.

In 1947 Clifford and Kathryn started the Hach Chemical and Oxygen Company, which eventually became Hach Company, one of the most innovative, influential, and well-known companies in the world. Hach-Darrow relays her thoughts on and her memories of the key events surrounding the start of the company, the creation of the Hach Model 5B Hardness Test Kit, the decision to enter the water testing market, the incorporation of the company in 1951, and the importance and need for instrumentation. Moreover, Hach-Darrow discusses the company's initial public offering in 1968, innovation, the company's international pursuits, Bruce J. Hach's involvement with the company, and the importance of quality control and customer service standards. Throughout the interview, Bruce Hach appends his memories and reflections of Clifford Hach as a father, an entrepreneur, and an innovator.

Hach-Darrow concludes the interview by recounting the effect of Clifford's death on his family and the Hach Company in the early 1990s. In 1999, Hach-Darrow sold the company to Danaher Corporation. Along with her family and other dedicated workers, Hach-Darrow now focuses her efforts on the Hach Scientific Foundation, known for its support of chemical education in the form of scholarships. Hach-Darrow is also an avid supporter of female entrepreneurship and was one of the founding members of The Committee of 200.

* This oral history also records the recollections of Bruce J. Hach, son of Kathryn and Clifford Hach, as he was present during all interview sessions.


1944 Iowa State University
1998 Doctor of Laws (honorary) Northwood University
2004 Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary) Colorado State University

  Professional Experience

Hach Chemical Company

1947 - 1968 Cofounder and Partner

Hach Chemical Company

1968 - 1978 Vice President

Hach Chemical Company

1978 - 1980 President and Chief Operating Officer

Hach Company

1980 - 1988 President and Chief Operating Officer

Hach Company

1988 - 1999 Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer


1957 George Fuller Award (shared with Clifford C. Hach), American Water Works Association
1982 Founding member, The Committee of 200
1992 Outstanding Business Leader Award, Northwood University
1993 Outstanding Business Woman of the Year, Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce
1998 Distinguished Service Award, College of Liberal Arts, Iowa State University
2000 Inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame
2000 Establishment of the Kathryn Hach Scholarship for Women, Northwood University
2003 Pittcon Heritage Award, Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy and the Chemical Heritage Foundation

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Clifford C. Hach's Family History and Early Life Experiences 1

The Hach family history, illustrated with anecdotes of Clifford Hach as a young boy on the farm. The effect of the Great Depression on the Hach family. The importance of education and Clifford's first years at Iowa State University. World War II, draft deferment, Harvey C. Diehl Jr., and Clifford's work on the Manhattan Project.

Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow's Family History and Early Life Experiences 5

The beginnings of a love for aviation. The Carter family of Virginia. The effect of the Great Depression on the Carter family. Wheat farming in Missouri. The road to college: raising turkeys. Decision to enroll in Iowa State University.

Iowa State University and the War Effort 8

Meeting Clifford Hach. Origins of interest in business and entrepreneurship. Clifford's association with Harvey Diehl. Marriage to Clifford in June of 1943. The Carters and the Hachs. Clifford's patent on carbon dioxide, the Walter Kidde & Company Inc., and the move to New Jersey. The births of Mary and Bruce Hach. Returning to Ames, Iowa, in pursuit of Clifford's degree.

Building a Company 14

The Standard Sample Company. Partnership with Harvey Diehl. A loan from Charles Goetz. At home in the plant. Thoughts on starting a company. Raising children in the plant. EDTA, Eriochrome Black T, and the Model 5B Hardness Test Kit. The beginnings of a marketing department.

Hach Chemical Company and Water Analysis 24

Decision to enter the water testing market. Generating customers. The early stages of advertising. Ralston Purina Company and fish farming. Use of color cards. Hach's first employee, Victor Geibelstein. The American Public Health Association. Spiking. Becoming incorporated in 1951. Corporate structure.

Instrumentation 33

Creation of the DC-DR in 1955. Conductivity meters, chemical oxygen demand meters, and portable turbidimeters. Clifford's mechanical expertise. Manufacturing for Betz Laboratories Inc. and Nalco Chemical Company. The competition. Winning the American Water Works Association's George Fuller Award in 1957. The importance of good customer service.

Corporate Atmosphere and Structure 36

Hach employees. The story of Roger Haas. Hiring practices. Creation of human resources department. Computers in the workplace.

Mary, Bruce, and Paul Hach 39

Working in the plant: Bruce makes powder pillows at the age of twelve. Bruce Hach reflects on his childhood. Bruce's contribution to the company. Mary's family and career. Bruce's family and career. Paul's family and career.

Financing a Company 40

Arthur Lucht. Initial public offering in 1968. Product and manufacturing costs. The State of Iowa and the land use movement. Clifford's thoughts on going public. The board: Barney Cunningham, Fredrick Leydig, Robert Case, Arthur Lucht, Clifford, and Kathryn. Accounting practices.

Running a Company 45

Reflections on Clifford's management style. Research and development. Clifford's "magic touch." Innovation. The motivation to branch out into soil, food, and agricultural analysis. The creation of the DREL. Taking business overseas. The Environmental Protection Agency. Hach Technical Training Center. Customer base.

Move to Loveland, Colorado 54

The search for electrical engineers. Instrumentation at the Loveland plant; chemistry at the Ames plant. Company's use of aviation. Kathryn takes the pilot's seat. Quality control and the use of the Demming principles.

Conclusion 59

The death of Clifford Hach. The effect of Clifford's death on the company and his family. The decision to sell Hach to Danaher Corporation. Dan Terra of the Lawter Chemical Company. Hach Scientific Foundation and the Clifford C. Hach Memorial Scholarship. The importance of scholarship opportunities for chemistry students. The Committee of 200. Reflections on Hach's scientific contributions. Great men of science and entrepreneurship: Clifford C. Hach and Arnold O. Beckman.

Notes 68

Appendix 69

"I. The experiences of Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow presented through photographs

  • Family
  • Hach Company through the Years

II. Patents issued to Clifford C. Hach

Index 92

  About the Interviewers

Arthur Daemmrich

Arthur Daemmrich is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School and a senior research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. His research examines science, medicine, and the state, with a focus on advancing theories of risk and regulation through empirical research on the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical sectors. At HBS he also plays an active role in an interdisciplinary Healthcare Initiative, advancing scholarship and developing applied lessons for the business of creating and delivering health services and health-related technologies. Daemmrich was previously the director of the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He earned a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University in 2002 and has held fellowships at the Social Science Research Council/Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He has published widely on pharmaceutical and chemical regulation, biotechnology business and policy, innovation, and history of science.

Arnold Thackray

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.

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