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Meet Jacob Hannasch of Hydrona in The Mid Cities

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacob Hannasch.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Growing up, I was never sure what I wanted to be, other than a professional athlete. In my adolescence, all I knew for sure is that I wanted to make a positive impact on the planet and on people. This is what mattered to me most.

I fell into the natural pitfall of focusing on money when I started college. I grew up in a family that was stressed financially. I never wanted that to be a part of my adult life. Originally, I enrolled in a Chemical Engineering major because I knew that it made several of my cousins a comfortable living. However, I quickly learned I would not enjoy that on a daily basis. Next, I pursued sports medicine. I assumed my love for sports and wanting to help people would make this a winning combination. Again, this was not for me. I was a personal trainer and bartender during and after college. Still uncertain of what to do. I had started a few other companies, but more in the pursuit of money than what made me happy. Inevitably, this made them fail.

Throughout my life, I was always looking for the right opportunity. My friend introduced me to a home builder who was talking about rainwater harvesting. I had never heard of this or considered it. However, it peaked my interest immediately. I have always taken an interest in planet and politics. I was very aware of the water crisis that is facing our world. This introduction happened in 2012. We then began to research rainwater harvesting. We came across an organization, ARCSA – The American Rainwater Catchment System Association. I traveled to their annual conferences and began meeting people currently involved in rainwater harvesting. I met installers, manufacturers, advocates, etc. After a year of research and networking we decided we were knowledgeable enough to try this on our own. We worked with manufacturers and other installers to get hands on experience. Once we knew we would be able to do the work to a level that would meet our standards and expectations, we filed the business. Hydrona became a reality in 2015.

Hydrona was initially founded to build rainwater harvesting systems. We have now taken on fire suppression systems, well water and all storage needs. We started out doing systems of 2,500 – 5,000 gallons and now we are doing systems upwards of 300,000 gallons. We still have a predominant focus on rainwater harvesting, but we have taken it to a commercial level as well. For example, we have done rainwater systems for Home Depot, Texas A&M, the New Orleans Children’s Museum and others. As of 2019, we have installed over 4,000,000 gallons of water storage tanks across the country.

There has been another passion project I have been working on in 2019. This project was created with the idea that we could be doing the jobs that made a difference. This was a big reason I started the company originally. You have to do jobs to make money and to have the company survive and put food on the table for your family. That said, the jobs I wanted to be doing are to help those without access to water. In 2019, we filed with the state of Texas and this January with the Federal government to form a nonprofit; Hydrona: The Clean Water Initiative. We will be working with our manufacturers and donors to provide turn key rainwater systems to those in need across the United States and the world. We are currently working on projects with Jamaica and Nepal that may come to fruition as early as 2020.

We are so very lucky to be doing something we love. Now the challenge is to help as many people as we can. Clean water should be a right and we all need to be aware of the impending water crisis. We want to do our part to make sure everyone has access to water.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We started our business with nothing. Many people when they start a business have a nest egg or a family member who helps them get started or bank loan, not us. I think this was the most difficult part, but we don’t owe anyone anything. Also, running a business out of the home. It made sense to save overhead costs initially, but it became overwhelming quickly. We lost a driveway spot to a 33’ trailer, garage space to tanks, tools and PVC. This does not include the office space in the home for myself and my wife, storage of uniforms, brochures etc. Having crews in muddy boots arrive to pack and unpack the tools for the work day on a jobsite. It’s this level of chaos that inspired us to get a dedicated office space, it has had a significant positive impact on our business and personal lives.

The largest struggle for me personally is probably trusting other people to do the work correctly if I am not there. I have put so much time and work in to building the company and establishing relationships, that I have a hard time putting that trust in others. This is my passion and I want my people to take it as seriously as I do. When it came to hiring I knew we had to pay a livable wage. Seeing companies that do not pay their employees a livable wage is baffling to me. We pay more than most were earning in the construction trade at a similar skill level. Even still, it is a challenge to find good people, when you find them, keep them on board, encouraging their growth. We like to think our people aren’t just here to build a tank, each tank is also building a part of the clean water initiative. It is hard work, but it is also feel good work too. We are proud to be an employer, but the stress of knowing you are in charge of someone’s livelihood is considerable. That is not something I take lightly, it is something that never leaves my mind.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Hydrona – what should we know?
Hydrona specializes in rainwater harvesting and water storage systems. We build all different styles of tanks: corrugated steel, fiberglass reinforced panels, bolted steel, underground tanks and more.

We provide tanks and also turn key systems. For example, we just did a residential project where we installed the gutters, over a thousand feet of conveyance piping, a pump and filtration to make the water potable. We collected the water from their roof into a cistern where it is pumped to 4 hydrants on the property as they need it, and it also runs the entire water supply inside their home.

That is one thing we run into a lot. People are very surprised when they hear you can use rainwater for full-home use. Once filtered, it is actually superior to tap water!

There is not just one thing that makes me proud of the company. I am proud that we get up and provide systems of all sizes and use on a daily basis to the best of our ability. I am proud that we have a team that enjoys working together and making a difference in other people’s lives.

One thing that sets us apart is that we offer an installation warranty to go with the warranty the manufacturers provide. You get Hydrona’s assurance as well. I also think we stand out because we are in this for the right reasons, and I know that is evident to our clients. We want to provide clean water to those in need, as well as educate those who do not know about rainwater harvesting.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Resilience and Persistence.

You will have good days and bad days. You must keep at it and push your own boundaries even if it seems daunting or impossible. I think this is true for life in general.

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