A few years ago, a cardiac surgeon traveled to Iowa for a recycling project. He found a growing market for high density polyethylene drainage tiles and ended up starting Quality Farm Drainage LLC in January 2010.
In early September of this year, Dr. Anup Sud's company will be adding Corma machinery to triple its production capacity to meet growing demand for its product.
“There has been an explosive growth in their use by farmers in the Midwest,” Sud said in a telephone interview.
The tiles are used in fields in the upper Midwest, and help farmers boost crop yields. They do it by siphoning water away from the plants.
“It is surprising. You would tend to think, ‘Why would you need to drain water away?' But when you drain the water away, the roots are longer and sturdier. It changes the temperature and the pH of the soil and it significantly increases production,” he said.
Sud said there are bigger players in the region, but there is strong demand.
Quality Farm Drainage operates out of an 18,000-square-foot facility in Sioux City, Iowa. It has 15 employees and expects to add more in the next few months.
Drainage tiles may seem to be an odd fit for a surgeon like Sud, who emigrated from India in 1975. He did medical training in Detroit and then opened a successful practice in Flint, Mich., he said.
He explains his passions thusly: “I love my profession because it allows me to save lives. I love my business because it allows me to build lives. And I love my family because it allows me to live life.”
Sud still practices medicine in Flint, but his interest in manufacturing has also grown. He had a company that made drainage tiles for the residential basement market in the 1990s. When the local housing market tanked, Sud turned off the machine and turned to recycling.
He took that machine to Iowa and now is bringing in a more modern machine that will enable the company to produce as much as 120,000 feet of 4-inch tile per day.
Sud also owns CSI Plastics LLC in Flint, where HDPE products such as laundry detergent containers are ground, washed and pelletized for use in Sioux City. That company led him to the recycling project in Iowa and spawned another outlet for his firm's recycled plastic pellets.
So, Dr. Sud saves lives, helps save the environment by recycling, and even helps the farmers.