Each year, WWD Magazine accepts nominations for top young professionals in the water and wastewater industry. President of OK Pipe & Fittings, Gabe Hatfield, is one out of 11 chosen to receive this recognition for 2018!
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President & Owner
OK Pipe & Fittings
Education: Bachelor and Master of business administration, Baylor University.
Previous life: Began working in the water industry in 1998 while still attending college and has not looked back.
Personal accomplishments: The success of Hatfield’s business, OK Pipe & Fittings, which is celebrating 20 years of business in 2018. “I can’t help but think back to when we first started—no money, subpar machines and hard physical labor were the norm. Then, suddenly, large backlogs and fabricating fittings for months straight without taking a day off; the miserably hot summers that we’ve welded outside because the mitered elbows were too big for the old shop; and the many days we had to remove my children from the property to x-ray. We’ve come a long way. I’m so proud of the quality of our work, the way we do business and, more importantly, the crew we have working for us.”
Professional accomplishments: Started OK Pipe & Fittings and doubled sales twice in 10 years.
Best project ever: Fabricated several eight-piece, seven-miter 96-in. elbows and several other fittings for the New York Department of Environmental Protection. The project required 100% X-ray and fittings so large that they barely fit through the OK Pipe & Fittings factory door.
Greatest influence: His parents, Susan and David. Susan taught him attention to detail, particularly as it relates to finances, and David helped shape Hatfield’s character with lessons on honesty and integrity. “I would not be where I am today without [my mother’s] undying love and support. My father gave me the courage, strength and motivation to set huge goals and achieve them.”
Industry aspiration: Hatfield wants to get more involved with AWWA and aims to sit on a board for the association. He also aspires to make OK Pipe & Fittings a commonly recognized name in the industry and would like to get laterals covered under AWWA.
Outside the office: Member of the Pipe, Valve and Fitting Roundtable; AWWA; and Texas AWWA.
Personal passions: His family, children, wife, golf, motorcycles, swimming and baseball. He is an avid reader who enjoys wine tastings and has even planted a small vineyard to make his own wine.
Hidden talent: Pretending to be an extrovert. While Hatfield loves industry events, he must admit “the introvert in me panics minutes before attending each and every one.”
Worst kept secret: Enjoys math, but hates geometry. The irony that his job now is predominantly calculating degrees, angles, lengths and circumferences of elbows and other fittings is not lost on him. “I had to relearn most of it on my own. I still can’t stand it sometimes.”
How will your generation influence the water industry? “The aging water infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada and around the world as well is a major concern. Most dams and water treatment plants were built before most of us in my generation were even born. A focus on updating this infrastructure in innovative and environmentally friendly ways will soon be a huge priority, as well as getting water to where it is needed in desperate parts of the world.”
Giving back: While Hatfield’s home was spared during Hurricane Harvey, 13 others in the neighborhood were flooded. Hatfield, along with his wife and children, helped demo and repair several homes in his area after the devastating storm. He also volunteers for fundraisers for his children’s activities.
Best memory: “In the early years of OK Pipe & Fittings, my family, friends, employees and contractors would use a scrap of metal ring from pipe and build a bonfire after the first frost of winter. We try to have a fireworks show on the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve. Most of the memorable moments are caught on film. I have photos of my daughter at the age of 2 walking through large-diameter elbows, and my son hammering on the pipe pretending to work with me when he was
Best advice: “The water industry is much broader and more robust than I ever would have imagined. There are so many different facets to it, and there’s always new areas to discover.”