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Photograph of Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow

Oral history interview with Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow

  • 2002-Jul-20 (First session)
  • 2003-Oct-02 (Second session)
  • 2004-Feb-08 (Third session)

Oral history interview with Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow

  • 2002-Jul-20 (First session)
  • 2003-Oct-02 (Second session)
  • 2004-Feb-08 (Third session)

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.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 103 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewers

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 PhD 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 founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD 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.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0255

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Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • October 20, 1922
  • Bucklin, Missouri, United States
  • June 04, 2020
  • Loveland, Colorado, United States


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

Professional Experience

Hach Chemical Company

  • 1947 to 1968 Co-Founder and Partner
  • 1968 to 1978 Vice President
  • 1978 to 1980 President and Chief Operating Officer

Hach Company

  • 1980 to 1988 President and Chief Operating Officer
  • 1988 to 1999 Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer


Year(s) Award
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

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PDF — 8.4 MB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

12 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads