As seen in the Tried & True Summer 2020 issue
After starting her career 28 years ago and now serving as the Francesville first-shift supervisor, few know Fratco as well as Cheryl Owens. Speaking of her time with the company, one word comes up over and over again: family.
When Owens battled stage four liver cancer, her Fratco family showed up. “They were right there by my side the whole time,” she said of her coworkers and management team. “They really put their hearts out to me.” After beating cancer and returning to work full-time, Owens was happy to see the smiling faces of her closest friends and colleagues. “I have a good crew,” she touts.
For Owens and her crew, producing high quality pipe for customers is the highest priority. “We’re always making sure the product is being produced correctly and going out the door. If I don’t like it, customers are not going to like it.” This commitment to producing quality products shows in Fratco’s ability to grow and expand as a trusted name in the drainage industry. But Fratco hasn’t always been the large operation Owens now helps to oversee.
Sitting in Fratco’s new and expansive breakroom, she recounts what the plant was like when she started nearly three decades ago. “It’s crazy watching all the other locations pop up. The first one in Illinois was like, ‘Oh, wow, we have another location.’ Then Iowa, then another in Iowa. It’s a growing thing.” The dedication of employees like Owens has helped Fratco grow from one factory with two production lines to four locations producing the industry’s most innovative products. Owens foresees even more growth, both for Fratco and for herself. “I started 28 years ago. I was a mother of two kids coming straight out of babysitting other children. I have grown with everything Fratco’s done here in the last 28 years. Every new thing that has come, I have grown and adapted with it. We’re one big company working together, no matter where your location is.” This investment in innovative products as well as a commitment to growing their workforce spring from Fratco’s family-owned roots.
“I don’t know how other companies are, but Fratco is a family atmosphere. Chris will walk through the plant, and he knows everyone by name. He’s always got a good joke—if you’ve got time to hear it.” Owens says that through every up and down, Fratco has prioritized her, not just the product. “I really enjoy what they’ve done for me and my family. Over the 28 years, I’ve raised two children while working here, put one through college, and they have been family through it all.”
So for those considering a job with Fratco? “Do it,” Owens says. “Take the time, we give you the training. Once you learn it, it’s just a rhythm. Tile is never-ending.” So, as the industry and demand grow, so will Fratco’s trusted family of people like Owens who work hard and do right by customers.