Drip nips drought
Some 32 years ago, Hubert Frerich was diversified with a few watermelons on the farm at Garden City, Texas. The local Texas Agricultural Extension Service office back then suggested he try some drip irrigation on melons. Hubert did. The rest was history.
Hubert and wife Annette had a nice roadside watermelon stand on the highway. While many folks wanted to visit and talk with the couple about their fresh melons, just as many stopped to ask about their drip irrigation system.
• Eco-Drip Subsurface Drip Irrigation had a simple start on family farm.
• The irrigation business expanded to five locations in three states.
• Drip irrigation matched up against the historic drought.
Hubert’s friendly roadside consultations would lead to many farmers trying drip irrigation. “People kept stopping all the time and wanting to know about it,” Hubert, now a spry 79, quips. “I told my wife: ‘We’re selling drip; we might as well make some money off of it.’ ”
After their own start with drip in 1980, they launched their drip irrigation business in 1983 and incorporated in 1985. Their business has grown ever since, with the spacious and modern headquarters still on the family farm at Garden City and only a few yards from their country home.
Eco-Drip has grown to five locations in three states. The main office is at the Garden City farm, with the other Texas offices in Abernathy and Levelland-Lubbock. The remaining two locations are in Altus, Okla., and Hastings, Neb.
The company also has gone from just two employees, Hubert and Annette, to 48 — and it’s still hiring. Son Brian, who graduated from Texas A&M University in 1993 with an agriculture systems degree, is president of Eco-Drip. The company, in fact, has a team of young employees, with 12 of the 48 workers Texas Aggie grads.
“We’re going to expand,” Brian assures.
The answer man
As for Hubert, today he’s a consultant and a Texas licensed irrigator. He is considered a walking encyclopedia on drip irrigation. People ask Hubert: “When are you going to retire? You are a senior citizen.”
He replies: “Senior citizen is when you are 55. I already passed that long ago. ”
Sharing credit for his success, Hubert says the Eco-Drip business would never have made it without Annette. When it took off like a rocket, she handled the mountains of book work as the business and staff grew dramatically.
But Hubert and Annette, married 55 years, did take some time off recently for an Alaskan cruise.
Hubert says he’s glad drip irrigation helped so many survive the 2011 Texas drought, with its oven-hot winds and more than 100 days of 100-plus-degree heat. Some even made 4-bale-per-acre cotton with drip, despite the record drought.
For something that started in a melon patch and roadside conversations, along with help from Extension, Eco-Drip now sees no boundaries.
This article published in the January, 2012 edition of THE FARMER-STOCKMAN.