The President's Series - Ryan DiFatta
Scott Brown, Director of Business Development for the W-T Family of Companies, dives into the professional experience and lives of our company presidents. This month: Ryan DiFatta, Vice President of Innovative Aquatic Design, LLC.
A little known fact: you played football in college. What position did you play and what is your fondest memory from your playing days?
That is true, I played football since I was 8 years old and I had an academic/athletic scholarship to be a student and play wide receiver at the University Of Evansville (IN), which at the time had a Division IAA football program. I’ve never really thought about what my fondest memory was, they were all great. Just being recruited was awesome, getting letters in the mail every day, recruiters coming to your high school, which alone was memorable when you’re 17. Winning or losing, there was always something to be learned or gained. If I had to pick one “memory”, I would say my freshman year in college. The change in environment, being on your own for the first time, it was exciting and sometimes overwhelming. I remember the first day of practice, it was pretty similar to what you see on TV, all these players all competing for a shot. My nerves and adrenaline were all over the place and I knew I was going to have to focus and step it up like never before if I wanted to be relevant.
My freshman year I made the varsity team, I dressed for every game and traveled to every away game. A little before half way thru the season I started getting some playing time, every third or fourth play. But that all changed the day we played Drake University. It was a running play to my side, and I had a crack-back block on the safety and ended up knocking him into another player that sprang our running back loose for a 40 yard game winning touchdown with less than a minute left in the game. My parents came to every game and like any proud parents, mine were filming (me not the game). In the video you see me make the block and the entire crowd jumped to their feet going wild. That was pretty cool to watch and probably my favorite moment that year as a player. That and my first touchdown, I got so excited I almost hyperventilated!
The rest of the season I got regular reps rotating with the starting senior every other play, and I also returned punts and kickoffs. At the end of my freshman year, I played in 6 games, I had something like 15 receptions for 200 plus yards, 3 rushes for 50 plus yards and 2 touchdowns. Nothing near the stats I had my senior year in high school but this was college and I had accomplished more than I had set out to that year and it was a great personal victory for me.
From where you sit, what are some of the advances you have seen in the pool filtration industry since joining?
By far regenerative media filters, salt- chlorine generators and ultraviolet disinfection systems. Like any new technology, these systems are far more expensive than traditional systems but these systems are designed to be more efficient (green) and safer for swimmers and operators. Often the biggest challenge is getting the client to understand the savings in operating costs will offset the initial sticker-shock in a reasonable amount of time depending on the type of application.
What is the most challenging type of project, and why?
That’s a loaded question, I would have to say design/build. Given the number of people that make decisions on this type of project, the relationship dynamic is often complicated. I think the important thing to remember is to be respectful and communicate with your client. Make sure you are on the same page and understand your scope and responsibility to the project. Explore options like “back-channel” communications, use your discretion of course. Chances are you may have worked with some of these people before and you can use that connection to discuss the issues directly with them in an effort to contribute to a solution.
Rumor has it that you enjoy four wheeling, kayaking and other outdoor activities. What trips do you have planned for this summer?
That is also all true. Most of the trips I go on are spontaneous, either kayaking on the North Branch or the Kishwaukee River or four wheeling at The Cliffs in Marseilles, IL. I do go on a canoe/camping trip on the South Branch of the Kishwaukee River every fall and an ice fishing trip on Fox Lake in Randolph, WI every winter. I might go on a four wheeling trip in Black River Falls, WI this summer, which should be exciting from what I’ve heard.
Ryan R. DiFatta
Mr. DiFatta has been designing Aquatic Facilities since 1998 and during that time has worked on numerous projects, both in new construction and renovation of existing facilities. After being hired as a draftsperson, Mr. DiFatta quickly graduated through the ranks in a short amount of time to Project Manager/Designer/Vice President. He is proficient in all aspects of the design and construction phases of Aquatic Facilities.