Kathryn “Kitty” Hach Darrow
March 22nd marks international observance of the UN’s World Water Day – which has been described as an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others, and take action to make a difference.
One business that has been at the forefront of making better water through better chemistry is the Hach Chemical Company. Started in 1947 by Kathryn and Clifford Hach, the company was a pioneer in creating easy to use standardized testing water purification kits. Kathryn, known as “Kitty” and Clifford met at Iowa State University while she was studying to be a home economics teacher and he a chemist.
After selling the rights to a patent, the newly married couple bought a small piece of land in Ames, Iowa and built their chemical plant, eventually adding a second building that included a small apartment for the couple and their three children. The company thrived under the joint leadership of Kitty and Clifford with the development of their water testing kits and powdered reagents.
Kitty, a licensed pilot, would fly them to trade shows as well as flying samples to potential customers around the country. Their original customers were medium size municipalities that needed simple procedures and easy to follow instructions for their water testing. The biggest drive in their new-style marketing was direct to the consumer mailings that would include color photos and sometimes a product sample.
In 1982 the Hach Scientific Foundation was created to support chemistry in the classroom awarding both scholarships to future chemistry teachers as well as grants to current high school chemistry teachers. In 2009 the American Chemical Society began handling the administration of these funds. Kitty, who served as the President, COO and CEO of Hach Chemical was also the first female director of the American Water Works Association, a non-profit group working to improve water quality around the world. She has stated that “the water we have on this planet is all that we have. It needs to be cared for.”
Suggested By: Madeleine Jacobs
Written by Angela Goad