That’s when the name Francesville Drain Tile, officially incorporated in 1956, had its name changed to Fratco — a name Overmyer said was meant to evoke its unofficial full name, Francesville Tile Company.
Overmyer said the company was honored to be recognized. “We’ve been around since 1923 and just recently, in the last few years, exploded in growth.”
Although Overmyer had been plant manager for a decade, Origer noticed significant changes when he took the reins of the whole company.
“Chris is just a much more aggressive businessman,” said Origer. “We have seen the company acquire two out-of-state plants under Chris’s supervision.”
The Francesville plant and its two new sister plants manufacture polyolefin corrugated pipe from diameters as small as 3 inches to as large as 5 feet. The pipes end up in farmers’ fields or under roadsides, serving to drain excess stormwater from the waterlogged ground.
“We have substantiated a 100-year design life,” said Overmyer — meaning the pipes should last a century after they’ve been buried in the ground, since the company’s lab tests also take environmental concerns, like oil running off roadways, into account.
As Overmyer picked up a handful of what looked like small, translucent pebbles, he explained that the material used to make Fratco pipes is shipped in on railcars.
“It’s the same exact material that a milk jug is made of,” he said. Each car holds about 100 tons of the tiny plastic pellets, which end up being melted down, often having color added to the plastic and then squirted into a vacuum-sealed mold that shapes the plastic as it cools.
The great thing about polyolethin — the plastic that Fratco uses — is that “we can just remelt it and reuse it,” Overmyer said.
A machine stationed near the entrance to the rail yard grinds up pipes that don’t meet the company’s quality control standards into plastic shards for remelting. The company also ships in ground plastic bought second-hand from industrial sources, which it also recycles into pipes.