The history of Eco-Drip begins in West Texas with its founder, Hubert Frerich and his wife, Annette.
West Texas in the ‘50s and ‘60s was a barren land where dry land cotton may have produced 1/2 bale per acre, and furrow irrigated was not much more. The ‘70s were not much better. A young man named Hubert Frerich had visions of how to survive.
Hubert grew up on a farm with five siblings. Times were hard and everyone had to chop and pick cotton to help the family survive. His dad used horses to plow until they were finally able to purchase a tractor. The hard work and dedication of the Frerich family helped them make it through the drought of the ‘50s. Enduring through these harsh times instilled in Hubert a survivor’s mentality. Combined with his curiosity, creative genius, and ingenuity, the irrigation industry would be changed forever.
In 1954, Hubert met Annette Hirt. The two married in 1956. In 1958 they moved close to Garden City, Texas where Hubert rented farmland and began working with irrigation. They raised seven children while farming and developing sub surface drip irrigation.
In 1980, Norman Kohls, the local County Extension Agent, talked Hubert into using drip irrigation under 13 acres of watermelons. Hubert thought it was too expensive, but if he could bury it below the ground and get a few more years out of it, it just might work. He decided to give it a try. Immediately, he saw how well it worked and rotated it with cotton the next year. The cotton yield was twice that of furrow irrigation!
These incredible results turned his SDI System into a showpiece where the Texas A&M Extension Service held many field days to show other growers. The farmers began to ask questions about drip, which got Hubert’s attention. He talked it over with Annette and they decided to sell drip irrigation products as a permanent subsurface drip irrigation system. There were a lot of naysayers, but Hubert knew it would work. He contacted Dick Chapin, owner of a dripline manufacturer in upstate New York named Chapin Watermatics, who agreed to sell him products.
Eco-Drip Irrigation was incorporated in 1984, using an old railroad car as a warehouse and the Frerich’s home for an office. Hubert focused on solving technical problems while Annette took care of the business operation. It was not unusual to find Hubert up at 2 a.m. designing systems, all of which were done by hand, including the contour maps. Hubert learned early that customer service required 24/7 availability. He told the farmers they could get him anytime and he responded no matter the hour.
Even though the local county agent sparked Hubert’s imagination, most of the Ag Extension personnel did not believe sub surface drip irrigation would work. Hubert loves to tell how “I must have missed the meeting when they said SDI wouldn’t work.” And make it work he did.
Eco-Drip's growth came with many problems, but Hubert was quick to find solutions. His mechanical ability proved to be his best attribute. Hubert was always thinking years in advance. Together with the help of his first customers, Hubert made advancements in design and operation that increased the life span of SDI to over 25 years and counting. Some of these advancements are things we take for granted today, such as permanently burying flushing manifolds, operating multiple valves at once (allows for operation as irrigation well production decreases), and injecting fertilizer. Hubert’s confidence and determination to see SDI through helped revolutionize the irrigation industry.
The business continued to grow, and much like the Frerichs did in the '50s, the family came together with hard work and dedication. In 1993, the Frerich’s youngest son Brian, graduated from Texas A&M and returned home to help in the business. That same year, Andrea, one of the Frerich’s daughters, started helping part time. As the business grew, Lani, another of the Frerich’s daughters, used her CPA knowledge to help organize the business side of the company. In 1997, it was time to add more help and naturally, the first place to look was family. This time it was David, another of the Frerich’s sons who answered the call and joined the family business. Each of the Frerich children brought a different dimension to the company and together became a well-rounded leadership team. In 2010, they recruited a current employee, Craig Hoelscher, to become the fourth partner and join the leadership team, adding another dimension with his talents. Although he is not a sibling, he is a distant cousin! Today, Brian serves as CEO, Andrea as CFO, David as CIO, and Craig as COO.