Water Analysis Industry Leader, Philanthropist Kitty Hach-Darrow Dies At 97

June 12, 2020
Hach Company co-founder Kitty Hach-Darrow dies at her home in Loveland, Colorado.

Hach Company announces co-founder Kitty Hach-Darrow has died at her home in Loveland, Colorado. She was 97.

Kathryn “Kitty” Carter was born in Bucklin, Missouri in 1922, the only child of a Ford car dealer and a teacher. Her family survived the Great Depression, but then struggled to recover. Her father lost his business and moved the family to a farm. Times were tough, but Kitty was determined to go to college. Before her freshman year she raised and sold a flock of turkeys to pay for her tuition. She began her education at what is now Columbia College, but later transferred to Iowa State University where she met her future husband, a chemist named Clifford Hach. They married in 1943 and had three children.

In 1947, Cliff and Kitty founded their company with $15,000 that Clifford had earned from the sale of a patent describing a new way to generate carbon dioxide to fight fires. When Cliff Hach developed a simplified titration test to measure water hardness, Kitty figured out how to sell it. She assembled lists of cities with large populations and sent out mailings that included information on Hach products with instructions on how to buy them.

“Kitty most likely can be credited with inventing modern-day direct mail-order marketing in the water analysis industry,” says Liz Veghte, sr. director of omni-channel marketing for Hach. “She created targeted lists from an atlas and really got to know her customer base. She hand-delivered products to customers all over the country. Although most of us aren’t pilots today, we certainly strive to meet her example when it comes to delivering the best products and delighting our customers.” 

In 1966, the company reached a milestone, reportedly generating $1 million in revenue. Over the next three years, the company grew 30% per year and in 1968, Hach went public. The Hach family kept at least 51% of the stock to retain controlling interest. 

In 1977, the passage of the Clean Water Act intensified demand for Hach’s analysis products, including portable water quality test kits, according to the company. That year, the Hach Chemical Company moved its headquarters from Ames, Iowa to Loveland, Colorado, on land near the airport, and changed its name to the Hach Company. After Clifford’s death in 1990, Hach-Darrow became the CEO, and Hach Corporation grew to become the largest woman-operated business in the state of Colorado, according to the company, with annual sales in excess of $100 million.

Before retiring, Hach-Darrow guided the company to global leadership in water analysis, and in 1999 it was sold to the Danaher Corporation for $355 million. Today, Hach employs several thousand global associates in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

A devoted philanthropist, Kitty endowed many causes, including $35 million to the American Chemical Society for scholarships for chemistry teachers, $10 million to the Northwood University business school in Michigan for a new student union, and $10 million toward the construction of Hach Hall, a state-of-the art chemistry building on the Iowa State University campus. She paved the way for other women to serve important roles in influential trade groups like the American Water Works Association and others across our industry.  She served as AWWA’s first woman director and sat on numerous committees, including the President’s Advisory Council.

For more information, visit: www.hach.com

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