Kathryn “Kitty” Hach-Darrow, the 2003 Pittcon Heritage Award winner, grew up in Missouri during the Great Depression. She studied at Christian College before transferring to Iowa State University, where she met Clifford Hach. They were married in 1943. In 1947 she and Clifford founded the Hach Chemical Company as a small reagent supplier in Ames, Iowa.
Clifford, a chemist, oversaw all the company’s R&D while Kitty dealt with business operations, marketing, and other general management. Over the next half century she guided the company’s growth into a global leader in water purification technology. An avid flyer, she logged thousands of hours flying around the country on marketing and research trips.
By the time Hach Chemical went public in 1968, it had annual sales in excess of $1.5 million. The timing of its public offering was auspicious; environmental concerns were high on the public agenda. The company was instrumental in standardizing water-purification tests and pioneered titration test kits and many world-standard water-testing instruments. The company’s tests were designed to be simple and effective, using visual comparisons against color standards and nontechnical directions; according to the company mottos they could “be used by anyone who can read.”
Hach Corporation moved its headquarters to Loveland, Colorado, in 1977. In the 1990s, after her husband's death in 1990, Hach-Darrow was the company’s sole CEO, and Hach Corporation was the largest woman-operated business in the state, with annual sales in excess of $100 million. Hach Corporation was sold to the Danaher Corporation in 1999 for $355 million.
Hach-Darrow was the first woman director of the American Water Works Association. In 1982 she and Clifford established the Hach Scientific Foundation to support science education by sponsoring student tuition and teacher education.