Small-town Company Makes a Large Impact

Haviland Drainage
Written by Ryan Cartner

Haviland Drainage is a manufacturer of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) drainage products. The company’s markets include agricultural, commercial, residential and transportation. It is one of a family of companies operating under the Haviland name: Haviland Culvert provides metal riveted pipe; Modern Plastics Recovery is a recycling business; Haviland Plastic Products makes containers for the nursery industry; and Haviland Energy generates power using three wind turbines and an anaerobic digester.
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Haviland Drainage’s products have been produced in the town of Haviland for more than 115 years. The business got its start in 1903 when A.J. Rust established the first company under the name Haviland Clay Works. This company manufactured clay tiles fired in large walk-in kilns until 1978 when, to adapt to changing market demands, it began producing HDPE plastic tubing. Today, the drainage products’ arm of Haviland is a leader in the manufacture of two-inch through twenty-four-inch corrugated HDPE pipe and four-inch through sixty-inch dual-wall HDPE pipe.

The Haviland family of companies operates from facilities in Haviland, Ohio and employs more than two hundred people from Paulding County and the surrounding area when fully staffed. Its fleet of trucks transport shipments up to four hundred miles, and the company uses commercial carrier services to go beyond that. “We’ve shipped by rail clear to the West Coast and on ships to Peru,” says Greg Schafer, Quality Assurance Manager with Haviland Drainage. “Our geographical region isn’t limited just to what we can move ourselves.”

Shipping pipe can be expensive, because of the volume it takes up. However, the company has a reputation for high quality products as well as for being a reliable partner. This has enabled Haviland to acquire customers throughout North America.

As a medium-sized company, Haviland is small enough to work closely with each customer, adapt quickly to meet their needs, and provide a personal touch to every partnership. Being small enough to be reactive has served the company well, but it has also grown to be large enough to handle projects of any size. The company prides itself on having an outstanding customer service record as a result of its ability to bring value to customers with widely varied demands. Haviland’s reputation reflects the company’s guarantee to every customer and project, no matter the size.

Haviland Drainage specializes in manufacturing high-density polyethylene plastic pipe from recycled post-industrial and post-consumer material. “A lot of plastics are single-use, but we reuse it,” says Schafer. “We take something that you’re going to throw away or put in a recycle bin, and we make something out of it that’s going to last decades.”

Haviland’s dedication to environmental sustainability is a point of pride for the company. Developing HDPE from recycled material is one aspect of this commitment. In addition to that, the products themselves are having a positive impact on the environment, long after the initial sale.

One of the environmental challenges present in the agricultural industry is nutrient pollution. Excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, some of which are generated by agricultural processes, and rain can cause those nutrients to run off into bodies of water where they become food for algae, creating an excess of algae known as an algal bloom.

Blooms are detrimental for several reasons. Some are toxic, which means a bloom can have a devastating impact on ecosystems that depend on the affected water sources as a habitat, for food, and drinkability.

Even if the algae itself is not toxic, it can bloom so excessively that it creates a dense mat over a body of water blocking out the sunlight that is critical for plants and animals and disrupting the fragile ecosystems that exist under the bloom. Further, as algae dies, it sinks to the bottom where it is consumed by microorganisms that also consume oxygen from the water.

During a bloom, the amount of algal decomposition can grow to be so great that it can deplete oxygen from surrounding waters. This depletion can create dead zones where nothing can survive. Some dead zones have been measured to be larger than six thousand square miles. Drainage systems are a key factor for controlling the runoff. Haviland Drainage is dedicated to helping customers in the agricultural industry in their efforts to solve this problem.

With a lifespan of up to one hundred years, HDPE pipe is a highly sustainable product. Haviland offers a range of HDPE new drainage solutions, like Smoothflex and Smoothlock. Smoothflex is a coiled dual-wall product primarily for commercial and agricultural applications. This flexible pipe has a smooth interior that allows for high flow rates, and reduces manpower required for installation compared to alternative products. Smoothlock is a product that consists of short, dual-wall pipe lengths that link with a locking tab mechanism that Haviland designed based on feedback from customers.

The company offers environmental water control products and subsurface detention and retention systems. Above ground detention and retention systems have drawbacks that are eliminated in a subsurface setup. Ground space is left open for development, and safety concerns are reduced, for example.

Haviland Drainage’s product line has applications outside of the agricultural sector. The company works with many residential and commercial distributors to sell drainage products to homeowners or contractors working on larger developments. The Department of Transportation is a major Haviland customer and uses its products for storm-sewer applications.

Haviland is a family-owned company, and the company’s culture is built on family values. “When we have an employee that has a problem, a family member with a health issue, or anything, we get involved to help out and support them,” says Schafer. The Haviland Drainage team is loyal to the company and its goals, because the company is loyal to the team.

That commitment has gone a long way toward retaining employees and mitigating the effects of labor shortages. The company has also invested heavily in improving safety and working conditions within its facility, implemented a profit sharing program, and has increased its search for employees into nine counties surrounding Paulding County. These efforts have helped the company find skilled tradespeople at a time when shortages have put many of its competitors at a disadvantage.

One of the keys to Haviland’s success has been the company’s strong devotion to continual improvement. By engaging customers and listening closely to their needs, it has developed products that fit perfectly into the markets it serves. Increasing the quality of its products and the efficiency of its operation at every opportunity has helped the company to achieve success. “The most important thing,” says Schafer, “is that we’ve certainly seen God’s hand in all of our efforts here.”

Not only does Haviland invest in the continuous improvement of its products, it is also investing in its people. Employees are provided with skills and leadership training throughout the year. Haviland routinely brings professional trainers in house and sends employees to various organizations such as Dale Carnegie.

Haviland has become very involved in efforts to support the communities it serves. The company sponsors free days at the local swimming pools for kids. It recently sponsored and physically installed fire alarms in collaboration with the Red Cross chapter. It supports local school and community sport teams and has an annual Christmas for Kids drive with a local radio station and the Marine Corps. “We try to stay out of the limelight,” says Schafer, “but a lot of this stuff is just the right way to do things – to support other people and to help out oour community and our neighbors.”

Going forward, Haviland Drainage will continue to grow the company for future generations. It is currently in its third generation of family leadership, and the current owners plan to further the legacy by passing it onto their children and their grandchildren. To achieve this, the leadership seeks to expand its customer base and promote plastic drainage solutions where they are not already being used. As the transportation and drainage infrastructure deteriorates, demand for long-lasting HDPE solutions will increase, and as a trusted provider of these products, Haviland will be positioned for success in that market.

“The country’s infrastructure has been deteriorating for decades, and it’s not getting any better,” says Schafer. “It has to be fixed, and roads improved with drainage along them; this market will continue to be strong.” The company is closely involved with the Plastic Pipe Institute and is very active in promoting the benefits of HDPE piping for infrastructure and other applications.

For more than a century, Haviland Drainage has provided high-quality drainage solutions. By focusing on recycled materials and sustainable products, the company is ready to lead the industry into a future with long-lasting, dependable storm-sewer infrastructure, agricultural installations, and drainage solutions for any need.

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