WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

Do you know of a great woman in engineering that should be recognized? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add her to the blog. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow (1922-)

Posted October 04, 2012 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

Kathryn Hach-Darrow grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. Prior to the depression her father had been a car dealer. He was interested in planes and Kathryn grew up flying them. That changed and Kathryn raised turkeys to finance her college education. She started out at Christian College and transferred to Iowa State where she studied home economics from 1941-1944. Nellie Taylor, a chemist in the home economics department, was an inspiration to Hach-Darrow.

Clifford Hach was studying electrical engineering and chemistry at Iowa State when he met Kathryn. They married in 1943 and started Hach Chemical and Oxygen Company in 1947. Clifford oversaw research and development while Kathryn handled business operations and marketing. The company later became known as Hach Company and it remains a manufacturer of analytical instruments and reagents used to test the hardness of water.

Hach-Darrow began marketing by direct mail to promote the company's products to municipal drinking water plants. The company's policy of providing exceptional customer service was initiated by Kathryn. She and husband Clifford created a 10-item list of criteria for each of the company's products. The first was "Can be used by anyone who can read," a rule that enabled people without technical backgrounds to conduct tests.

The couple took the company public in 1968 and Kathryn held various offices; she remained chairman and CEO until the company was acquired by Danaher in 1999.

Kathryn was the first woman director of the American Water Works Association. She received numerous awards as an outstanding business woman. In 2000, she established the Kathryn Hach Scholarship for Women at Northwood University. She gave $10 million to Iowa State for a new chemistry building.

Two honorary doctoral degrees were awarded to Kathryn:

  • Doctor of Laws from Northwood University (1998)
  • Doctor of Humane Letters from Colorado State University (2004)

View a video of an interview with Kathryn.


Chemical Heritage Foundation - Clifford C. Hach and Kathryn Hach-Darrow

Chemical Heritage Foundation - Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow

Iowa State University

Wikipedia - Hach Company

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