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Cirba Solutions Gains Governmental Green Light

In October, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $2.8 billion grant to supercharge U.S. battery manufacturing for electric vehicles and the electrical grid. Cirba Solutions, a Heritage family company focused on battery recycling, was one of the 21 companies awarded a portion of that grant. Here, in an interview with The Heritage Group, Shane Thompson, Strategy and Business Development for Cirba Solutions, discusses what a $75,000,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy means for the company and its future.

Tell us more about the grant.
It funds the first set of projects for President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The U.S. government is trying to set up a domestic supply chain for critical materials so the country can expand manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the grid.

What does the grant mean for Cirba Solutions?
It allows us to put more dollars into our new facility in Lancaster, Ohio, which was already in the works when we won the grant. We’re planning to expand the number of minerals we recycle and enhance our ability to upgrade materials before they re-enter the battery supply chain.

How will the grant impact the future?
The fact that our new facility is being built with the full confidence of the Department of Energy will help us introduce our product in the marketplace. In addition to funding, the validation adds visibility and credibility that will make us more attractive to customers, employees and investors.

How did you win the grant?
We responded to the Department of Energy’s request for funding, which included a rigorous application process. Our strategy was to apply for half of the available funding in the battery recycling category. We built on the fact that Cirba Solutions is unique, and we have experience to back up what we do. Laura Evans, our director of environmental, social and governance (ESG), led the application process, which included a robust environmental justice questionnaire and requirements. We welcomed that. We prioritize sustainability and ESG at Cirba Solutions, and the grant was a great opportunity to highlight some of those practices.

Why is the grant important for the country?
We’re creating a circular economy and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and minerals mined in other parts of the world. Producing batteries and components in the U.S. will help advance our country’s goal to build a robust lithium-ion supply chain and meet the demand for electric vehicles.

What capabilities will you add?
Typically, in the process of collecting, disassembling, shredding and upgrading critical materials from lithium-ion batteries, we focus on nickel and cobalt. Our expansion in Ohio will allow us to add lithium and other materials to that list.

Now, when we chop up batteries and separate out materials, some parts of the battery — including lithium, carbon, manganese and aluminum — are sent to a third party for processing. In the future, we’ll run those materials, known in the industry as “black mass,” through a hydrometallurgical process at our plant. We’ll be able to keep the recycling process going and create more materials that can go back into the battery supply chain.

How does this impact The Heritage Group?
Winning the grant is something Cirba Solutions and Heritage employees should share in and feel good about. It shows that a company that got its start with The Heritage Group is betting on the right things, receiving validation at the highest level and growing, which is good for us all.

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Heritage Group Finds Success With Venture Fund

When Indianapolis-based The Heritage Group launched its New Ventures Group in 2018, it did so in the belief that it could leverage its expertise in materials science to boost entrepreneurship, generating benefits both inside and outside the company.

The strategy seems to be working even better than expected for the privately held, family-owned company that has an ownership stake in more than 30 operating companies, including Calumet Specialty Products Partners LP, Heritage Environmental Services, Monument Chemical and others.

To date, the company’s venture arm, HG Ventures, has invested nearly $200 million in a total of 30 companies, eight of which had been participants in The Heritage Group Accelerator.

And in 2021, HG Ventures became the first non-Europe-based investor chosen to partner with Innovate UK, a research and innovation funding initiative associated with the government of the United Kingdom.

“I would say the thing that surprised me the most was how strong the market for material-science venture investing turned out to be, and how well-positioned we have been to establish a brand in that area,” said HG Ventures Managing Director Kip Frey. The Heritage Group recruited Frey from North Carolina to launch HG Ventures four years ago.

The venture group has a threefold strategy:

  • Invest in U.S. and international companies that focus on materials science (studying the substances things are made of and designing more advanced substances/materials).
  • Launch an annual startup accelerator.
  • Incubate employee ideas that show commercial promise.

The venture group’s investments focus on areas such as energy, sustainable materials, water, infrastructure and the circular economy—the concept of reusing and recycling materials rather than disposing of them.

HG Ventures’ investment portfolio includes companies like Zionsville-based 120Water, which offers water-sampling kits, software and services for water system management and compliance. It also includes Israel-based Valerann, which offers a traffic-management platform for road operators and traffic authorities.

The accelerator, whose fourth cohort of startups wrapped up last week, has brought a total of 37 startups to Indianapolis since 2018 for a 13-week, in-person accelerator at The Heritage Group’s headquarters just east of Eagle Creek Park. The startups come from around the world; to date, five have chosen to move their headquarters here.

The Heritage Group also decided this year to run its accelerator on its own, after a three-year contract with accelerator operator Techstars came to an end.

The third part of The Heritage Group’s strategy, its in-house incubation process, has already resulted in one new company. That startup, Avenew Inc., is a road-management company that launched in February and is now part of The Heritage Group’s portfolio.

‘Amazing resources’

For The Heritage Group, part of its secret sauce is the expertise and resources it can offer the companies it invests in.

HG Ventures and The Heritage Group Accelerator both operate out of The Center, a 113,000-square-foot building that also serves as The Heritage Group’s corporate headquarters. The facility, in InTech Park, also is home to The Heritage Group’s in-house research and development laboratory, which helps its operating companies develop and test their products.

And The Heritage Group’s 6,000-person workforce includes chemists, engineers, scientists and others with specialized industry knowledge.

“We have 6,000 people. We’ve got amazing resources that we can bring to bear for entrepreneurs that show that it’s not lip service, adding value. It’s truly tangible value that we can bring to these companies,” said Ginger Rothrock, senior director of HG Ventures.

These types of resources can help HG Ventures in multiple ways, said fellow venture investor David Kerr, managing director of Indianapolis-based Allos Ventures.

Allos and HG Ventures are co-investors in 120Water Inc., which is also a graduate of The Heritage Group Accelerator.

A venture firm that invests in the realm of materials science, clean technologies or hard tech—technology that includes both hardware and software—needs the know-how to find and evaluate potential investments.

One way to find this know-how is to work with consultants, universities or industry partners, Kerr said—but The Heritage Group has this expertise in-house. “That’s where I do think it really does give Heritage Group an advantage, having ready access to those types of people.”

‘A complete mind shift’

These are the types of resources that caught the eye of suburban Seattle-based entrepreneur Jason Puracal, co-founder and CEO of ZILA Works. The company was one of seven startups from the United States and Canada who came to Indianapolis for this year’s accelerator.

ZILA, which launched in 2014, has developed a process for using industrial hemp to create bio-epoxy resin for use in products from sporting equipment to floor sealants. The company hasn’t yet started generating revenue but has secured its first paid pilot test, which will take place this winter with Vermont-based Burton Snowboards, Puracal said.

He’d been through three previous accelerators in the U.S. and Canada before coming to Indianapolis for The Heritage Group Accelerator, he said, and this one is different.

“This is the first accelerator program that has had specific expertise that is relevant to our industry,” he said. “It’s been great to have the resources and the muscle of Heritage at our disposal.”

Most of ZILA’s partners before had been universities, Puracal said, so working with an industry-based accelerator has given him a whole new perspective.

“Academia runs at a certain pace, and Heritage has helped us shift our mental framework about, ‘Oh, really we can go much faster in this other setting,’” he said. “It’s been a complete mind shift for us, and we’re trying to scale up as quick as possible now.”

One area ZILA had struggled with, Puracal said, was finding a manufacturer willing to make the company’s product. He said his company had reached out to 40 companies, all of whom said ZILA was too small for them to do business with. But through the accelerator, Puracal is now in conversation with The Heritage Group’s Monument Chemical as a potential manufacturer. “Monument has a different approach because of the accelerator program.”

During their 13 weeks in Indianapolis, Puracal said, he and his fellow founders were also introduced to representatives from Purdue University, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and other startup accelerators, as well as Indiana-based venture investors. The accelerator participants also traveled to events in Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; and Louisville.

Being in person for the 13-week program has also allowed Puracal to meet other founders who have become both friends and sources of professional support.

Becoming known

The Heritage Group “seriously considered” 75 applicants for this year’s accelerator cohort, Frey said. Many more companies submitted applications, but the 75 represented the strongest.

New Ventures Group is also gaining traction on its venture investment side.

The Heritage Group’s CEO, Amy Schumacher, said HG Ventures has seen an increase in both volume and quality of investment opportunities that cross its threshold over the group’s four years in existence.

Schumacher is a great-granddaughter of John E. Fehsenfeld, who launched the company in 1930 under the name Crystal Flash. She, along with board Chair Fred Fehsenfeld Jr., had the vision for what became New Ventures Group.

“What has surprised me is how quickly HG Ventures has established themselves as a leader in this space,” Schumacher said.

Some of the investment opportunities are pitched by entrepreneurs, she said. Others come from fellow venture firms looking for co-investors for particular deals.

“They see the value we can bring to an opportunity,” Schumacher said.

The third part of New Venture Group’s strategy is to incubate business ideas that come from within.

As part of this effort, Schumacher said, The Heritage Group launched a year-long Concept to Commerce course, which focuses on how to commercialize an idea. Employees must be nominated to participate, and a second cohort is set to begin early next year.

“It was an overwhelming success,” Schumacher said.

New Ventures Group has already successfully taken one idea from concept to commercialization with Avenew, which quietly launched in February.

The company, which helps local governments manage their road and bridge infrastructure, was born out of an idea from Heritage Group employee Micah Vincent. Vincent, who was director of Indiana’s Office of Management and Budget before joining The Heritage Group, now serves as Avenew’s chief operating officer.

The startup’s CEO is Joe McGuinness, who formerly served as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. Before that role, McGuinness served as mayor of Franklin.

McGuinness said leading a startup is altogether different from being a government executive. The Heritage Group has helped him with tasks as big as business strategy and as small as creating and ordering business cards.

“They have provided a lot of support,” he said. “They allow you to sleep at night and not be looking around every corner.”

It took about 18 months to develop Avenew’s initial concept into a business, Rothrock said. Other ideas are now making their way through the incubation process, with anticipated business launches in one to three years, though Rothrock declined to reveal details.

This article was first published in the Indianapolis Business Journal

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Sara Morris Discusses Family’s Commitment To Service

Since 2014, Fehsenfeld family retreats have hosted a United for Service event that addressed strategic and specific needs in various areas of the country. This year, with the inaugural United for Service event extended to all employees of The Heritage Group family, Sara Morris, Director of Strategic Experiences, discusses her family’s history of service and the goals of this year’s campaign to address food insecurities in the communities in which we live and work. 

 

Talk about the history of United for Service and to a larger extent, the Fehsenfeld Family’s involvement in service and giving back to communities.

In 2014, the Fehsenfeld Family Council decided it was time to refocus our family retreats. Several fourth-generation family members were wanting to become more involved in activities surrounding our gatherings, wanting to find different avenues for people to connect and give back to the community. The family spent a lot of time determining what was most important to us, and together we decided it was learning & giving back together.  We established two models for our family retreats: United for Learning, where we gather to learn about something new, often centered around THG and United for Service, where we collectively take on a community service project. It was always important that all ages could participate, so that even the youngest could create and be part of what the rest of the family was doing. There is something special about grandparents working alongside grandchildren, all coming together to help others.

When that idea was generated, was everyone immediately on board? 

It added a new energy to the family and certainly made people feel connected. This initiative gave everyone a new way of viewing how we as a family and now as a company can help others. We have a lot of people who are passionate about conducting service projects in their own communities. In some instances, we’ve been able to listen and learn what others’ passions are and to find venues to share those passions through service. In 2017, we held our retreat in Utah where we worked on my cousin’s urban farm, The Green Urban Lunchbox. Together we built a green house, repaired fences, prepped planting sites, and collected food to be delivered to the local community. It was great being able to learn about a family member’s passion, and to experience it firsthand.

What are the family’s expectations for this year’s United for Service efforts now that it has been extended to include the Heritage Family of employees?

When Amy and I took this idea to the family council to let them know we were expanding our efforts, everyone was overwhelmed with excitement and support. I could see us [the Fehsenfeld Family] doing this again and working alongside Heritage employees. There are great opportunities in the future.

What do you hope employees get out of this initiative?

I would love for people to make new connections or deepen relationships with employees and colleagues. I would love for people to better understand the importance of this kind of work, because as a family, it is deeply important for us. My hope is that it instills in employees a sense of pride for the organizations they work for and that they’re enthusiastic about addressing food insecurities across the country. Partnering with the United way is an exciting opportunity and I hope we can make an impact in our communities.

What specifically about food insecurity and our united mission to address hunger relief speaks to you? 

I have spent the last several years learning from our employees what’s most important to them and their families to help inform our Heritage Group giving pillars. Food insecurity wasn’t initially one topic we addressed, but it became clear with the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 that we cannot support the mission and goals of our pillars if people cannot eat. Food scarcity during that time became a very eye-opening, important experience. If, during the pandemic kids were not attending school, those kids still needed to find their next meal. Born out of that was our ongoing partnership with Gleaners, which is the largest food pantry here in Indiana. I imagine a lot of folks in Indianapolis are familiar with them, but much like our industries are spread across the state, so too is their presence as they distribute food throughout Indiana.

After the impact is measured and we’ve wrapped the inaugural United for Service campaign, what does success look like and how will we know if we have achieved our goal?

This is the first time we’re doing United for Service with members of the company, and I think it’s always hard to predict the outcomes the first time you do something. I hope we can listen to feedback and learn how we can better position ourselves for a greater impact next year, because this is going to be an annual event for The Heritage Group and our operating companies. Success for me is creating an experience that sheds more light on what the culture of Heritage is to a larger audience while proving to communities and our employees that this is who we are as a company. If we can empower our employees to connect with service initiatives in their communities, then we instill within them a source of pride for the work they do every day.

Of course, we are still planning for the first company-wide campaign, but if you were to name hopes for the future of United for Service, what do you want its legacy to be?

There is something about having this event in November, when our construction materials teams have quieted down a bit and we are entering a season of reflection and celebration with not only the date the company was founded, but Thanksgiving occurring the week after, that it all just feels special. I love the energy surrounding this drive and I love the idea of supporting causes that provide people with food access. I want it to be an event that grows each year. I am hopeful that our employees, regardless of location, can take part in some way.

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Cirba Solutions Awarded $75M in DOE Grant Funding

The Biden-Harris Administration awards federal funds to Cirba Solutions, North America’s most experienced battery recycling company, to expand the domestic supply of critical EV materials via its Ohio facility

 

Charlotte, NC (October 19, 2022) – Cirba Solutions, the largest and most comprehensive cross-chemistry battery management and materials processor in the industry, is a recipient of the first set of projects funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the electrical grid, with a focus on domestic processing of materials and components currently imported from other countries. Responsible and sustainable domestic sourcing and processing of the critical materials used to make lithium-ion batteries will strengthen American supply chains, accelerate battery production to meet increased demand, and secure the nation’s economic competitiveness, energy independence, and national security.

The funding announced today by the Department of Energy is the first phase of over $7 billion in total funding provided by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the battery supply chain. DOE’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains (MESC) is responsible for strengthening and securing manufacturing and energy supply chains needed to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure and support a clean and equitable energy transition. MESC will manage the portfolio of projects with support from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

Cirba Solutions will receive approximately $75 million in federal funds to expand critical mineral upgrading assets at its lithium-ion processing facility in Lancaster, Ohio. At full operation, the estimated 150,000-square-foot facility will produce enough battery-grade critical minerals used in cathode production to power more than 200,000 new electric vehicles (EVs) annually. It will also create an additional estimated 150 jobs to the greater Lancaster area. The Lancaster facility will become one of the largest commercial-scale battery recycling facilities in North America.

Prior to this federal funding award, Cirba Solutions announced its commitment to invest more than $200 million to expand the Lancaster, OH facility.

The facility will collect, disassemble, shred, and upgrade the critical minerals from lithium-ion batteries to be reused to produce new lithium-ion batteries.

“This is truly a remarkable time for manufacturing in America, as President Biden’s Agenda and historic investments supercharge the private sector to ensure our clean energy future is American-made,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Producing advanced batteries and components here at home will accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels to meet the strong demand for electric vehicles, creating more good-paying jobs across the country.”

“The funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help strengthen the United States domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain for the EV market and create a sustainable supply of the critical minerals used to make batteries,” said David Klanecky, President and CEO of Cirba Solutions. “The time and cost to mine and process new materials is significant, and the need for these battery materials is becoming increasingly urgent. Battery recycling is a viable solution to help meet the rising demand for EV batteries.”

In September 2022, Cirba Solutions announced plans to construct a 75,000-square-foot facility in Eloy, Arizona to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The Eloy facility is expected to process enough battery material to power 50,000 EVs annually. The company aims to increase its lithium-ion battery processing capacity by approximately 600% over the next few years and open several new processing facilities throughout North America. Currently, the company has six active facilities processing all battery chemistries.

“The electrification of our transportation system is significantly growing year-over-year. Increasing our capacity to recycle lithium-ion batteries will advance the country’s goal of building a robust EV lithium-ion battery supply chain to help realize America’s electric future,” said Klanecky.

Links:

Biden-Harris Administration Awards $2.8 Billion to Supercharge U.S. Manufacturing of Batteries for Electric Vehicles and Electric Grid

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing Recycling Selections

Factsheets on Selectees

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Heritage Environmental Technologies Partnership Explores Dynamic Wireless Charging of Electric Vehicles

October 18, 2022

 

 

Magment GmbH and Heritage Environmental Technologies LLC have entered into a joint development agreement to explore new technology for dynamic wireless charging of electric vehicles. Dynamic charging is the future solution for charging electric vehicles where devices installed in highway pavements will deliver electrical energy to battery electric vehicles on the road using a magnetic field. An antenna mounted to the vehicle bottom passes through the magnetic field generating an electrical current that charges the batteries.

Magment and HET have joined to develop a magnetizable asphalt mixture that can be used for the dynamic transmission of wireless power. Magment and HET believe that magnetizable asphalt will allow efficient and cost-effective construction of electric roads that will supply energy to vehicles of the future. Magment and HET are also cooperating to implement wireless charging technology in China.

Magment and HET believe the need for dynamic, wireless charging will increase as battery electric vehicles are adopted to support the United States’ goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The first step to supporting electric vehicle adoption is the recent National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program created by passage of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  The program will install charging stations along the nation’s designated Alternative Fuel Corridors. The NEVI program is complemented by the ASPIRE initiative (Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification) funded by the National Science Foundation, with the aim of electrifying transportation. As adoption of battery electric vehicles progresses the need for vehicles to charge as they drive will increase. Wireless charging technology will fulfill the need. Magment and HET are proud to support the transition from carbon-based transportation fuels to electricity.

About Magment and Heritage Environmental Technologies

Founded in 2015, Magment is a Germany-based company with operations in the United States that has pioneered magnetizable materials for wireless electric charging. Magment has developed magnetic-based devices for a range of power levels ranging from low power micro-mobility devices such as scooters to high power devices for trucks and buses.

Heritage Environmental Technologies is a subsidiary company of The Heritage Group, founded in 1930. HET is focused on technical solutions that improve the environment. The Heritage Group is an Indianapolis-based company with expertise in road construction materials.

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Heritage Environmental Services Inducted into the Indiana Manufacturers Hall of Fame

INDIANAPOLISOct. 12, 2022

Heritage Environmental Services, Inc., a leader in environmental and sustainability services, will be inducted into the 2022 Indiana Manufacturers Association’s (IMA) Hall of Fame on October 19, 2022, in Indianapolis, at the Biltwell Event Center. Heritage Environmental Services was chosen from a select group of Indiana candidates for its the positive achievements and contributions to the industry, as well as an ongoing commitment to its employees and area community.

“As one of the largest environmental services companies, we’re proud to employ over 1,400 people – many from within the state of Indiana where we are headquartered,” said Ali Alavi, Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel for Heritage Environmental Services. “We support business and manufacturing communities in Indiana and across the country through our commitment to sustainability as we work to find innovative ways to transform our customers’ waste streams into valuable products.”

“The Indiana Manufacturers Association instituted the Indiana Manufacturers Hall of Fame Awards in 2015 to help bring awareness and recognition to the many positive contributions of Hoosier manufacturers,” said IMA President and CEO Brian Burton. “We congratulate Heritage Environmental Services for their outstanding work and continued dedication to making Indiana a manufacturing powerhouse.”

As the most manufacturing-intensive state in the nation, Indiana is the number-one wage payer and employer of Hoosiers. Additionally, manufacturing continues to be the number-one job creator in Indiana.

With over 50 years of experience, Heritage Environmental Services works to help customers manage their hazardous and non-hazardous waste management needs, from transportation, treatment, and disposal to training and emergency response. Heritage Environmental services is proud to provide sustainable methods for managing waste that support Indiana communities and help keep the environment safe and clean.

About Heritage Environmental Services

Heritage Environmental Services is a privately held, family-owned environmental services business with more than 1,400 employees across North America. The company provides a full suite of tailored solutions from emergency response, waste disposal, and sustainability services to onsite support and technical solutions to thousands of customers in hundreds of industries. For over 50 years, Heritage Environmental Services has prioritized the safety of its employees while pursuing its purpose of protecting human health and the environment.

About the Indiana Manufacturers Association

Formed in 1901, the Indiana Manufacturers Association is the second oldest manufacturers association in the country and the only trade association in Indiana that exclusively focuses on manufacturing. Manufacturing is the driving force of Indiana’s economy, employing more people and contributing more to Indiana’s gross domestic product than any other industry. The Indiana Manufacturers Association, representing more than 1,100 companies, is dedicated to advocating for a business climate that creates, protects, and promotes quality manufacturing jobs in Indiana. The staff of the Indiana Manufacturers Association are recognized experts in areas including tax, environment, labor relations, human resources, energy, workforce development, and health care. To learn more about how membership can be a be a benefit for your company, visit www.indianamfg.com. 

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Award-Winning Duo

The Emmy Awards honors the best in television, but did you know that The Heritage Group has its own pair of Emmy-award winning filmmakers?

 

Built on a friendship that developed over two decades ago, filmmakers Bill Baker and Matt Mays have witnessed their working partnership grow into an award-winning collaboration. When not writing, directing, producing and editing dynamic video content for the Heritage family of operating companies, the duo creates works of film that receive significant accolades. Recently their film, a 30-minute featurette highlighting the work and importance of The Indianapolis Prize, won in the category of Outstanding Branded Content – Long Form at the 53rd Central Great Lakes Chapter Emmy Awards.

The pair first met in college and have since built not only a strong bond, but a working relationship that thrives on creativity, collaboration and trust. “What we have in place now was not expected, but it is the culmination of a 25-year friendship and working relationship. It’s not an accident that we ended up here together, but it was by no means a predetermined arc,” noted Matt. “But it’s a pretty funny and interesting culmination of thousands and thousands of hours of working together in all corners of the world.”

Prior to joining The Heritage Group, Matt and Bill worked together on several collaborations, including a series for ESPN called SportsCentury. “That project was a Peabody and Emmy-winning series, which turned into a bunch of work for other entities like History Channel and Discovery Channel,” said Matt. What followed was an opportunity for Matt to branch out on his own, which is when he discovered The Indianapolis Prize. “The vision for it was to be like the Nobel Prize for animal conservation.”

Founded in 2006 by the Indianapolis Zoo, The Indianapolis Prize is a conservation initiative that recognizes six individuals from around the world who have dedicated their lives and work to the sustainability of the Earth’s endangered species. Winners receive a cash prize of $250,000 and the five finalists receive $50,000. Armed with a camera and the goal of capturing the stories of these conservationists, Matt and his production team hop around the globe to film in exciting locations. “Matt does the production work of going out into the field and shooting all of the footage of all of those nominees,” said Bill. “We produce a short film for each of those six finalists, which are then used and screened at the semi-annual black-tie gala where they honor the finalists and winner.”

I hope that THG has a great respect for what we can produce, and that they trust us with our work and our vision. When you see that trust in action, it’s an amazing thing. That trust engenders us to want to put our best effort forward. To be able to continue working with Bill has made all of the difference in slowly building our own little production department, and it’s all exciting.” – Matt Mays

For the team, the accolades are only part of why they choose to work for this cause. “If you get into the subject matter of sustainability and saving species, The Indianapolis Prize is undoubtedly the most important and meaningful project I’ve ever worked on,” remarked Matt.

This 25-year culmination of honing their craft has now landed the pair at The Heritage Group, and their vision for telling dynamic stories is reflected in the work they produce in the many industries of the various operating companies. From training materials to marketing pieces to content displayed throughout the building, Bill works closely with the Marketing and Communications Department as editor for all video production needs of The Heritage Group and its operating companies. Additionally, Bill serves as Multimedia Services Lead, chiefly supporting the audio/visual needs of meetings and events at The Center. Matt produces, writes, and directs video content for THG and its operating companies, while serving in roles related to events throughout the Center. “Thanks to my work with The Indianapolis Prize, I have a perspective of what a lot of natural resources look like in a number of different countries. I know what the issues surrounding environmental struggles are in those places, so I can tell better stories around sustainability,” remarked Matt.

For Bill, the relationship and missions between The Indianapolis Prize and The Heritage Group feels like a natural alignment, especially regarding environmental stewardship and sustainability. For him, the work he and Matt produce is a showcase of how these amazing scientists and conservationists are striving to make the world a better place. He noted, “Written into the purpose of The Heritage Group is the idea of building a safer, more enriching and sustainable world by harnessing the power of family, which aligns perfectly with the work that we have been involved with The Indianapolis Prize.”

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Blazing Her Own Path

Women’s Equality Day is held annually on August 26 to honor the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which recognizes women’s right to vote. In celebration, The Heritage Group profiled Liz Larner, General Counsel of Heritage Construction + Materials (HC+M), to examine how women’s equality has played a role in her professional life.

HER STORY

Liz Larner knows exactly where she belongs. Whether she’s negotiating a mergers and acquisitions agreement in a boardroom or touring a jobsite in a truck and boots, Liz Larner feels perfectly in place as General Counsel for HC+M.

In her role, Liz is responsible for assessing risk involved within all the operating companies across HC+M, including US Aggregates, Asphalt Materials, Inc., and Milestone. Her responsibilities also include understanding environmental laws and regulations, managing both Human Resources and safety regulations, certifying compliance, maintaining a diverse, inclusive, and non-discriminatory workplace, and above all, ensuring the safety of our Heritage employees. As Liz explained, “A lot of times people think attorneys review contracts or oversee lawsuits–Law & Order type stuff. My lens is different where I am responsible for thinking through all sorts of risks to the company and risk mitigation. I think through future scenarios where if we don’t proactively respond, there is the likelihood of increased risk.”

To put employees and customers first, Liz works diligently to build and anticipate the needs of those she serves. “People hear the word attorney and think I must somehow be intimidating. The challenges come when I try educating people that I am here to help them,” Liz noted. “My view is you always want to talk to me because I promise to support you. I always say, Do what you do, and I am here to help you do it better.

PAVING HER OWN PATH

Prior to joining The Heritage Group in June 2021, Liz’s professional career had been a self-professed winding journey that included a role in the Indianapolis mayor’s office. “I worked for the Department of Public Works, so I know a thing or two about roads, sidewalks, and potholes,” she quipped. After attending law school with the hopes of breaking out as a civil rights attorney, Liz assessed her mounting student loan debt and opted instead to work for a large legal firm. This is where she developed her expertise in mergers and acquisitions, and while serving in an advisory role with a client, was asked to become their senior legal counsel. “I fell in love with being on the inside of business within an oil and gas operating company. I would close the deal, deliver a new company, determine benefits and payroll, and manage operations. Wanting to be on the inside of the business as a teammate while assisting with the legal aspect all resonated with me.”

This career shift sent Liz on a path in which she often found herself as the only woman operating within male-dominated industries. Liz leaned heavily on her upbringing and ability to connect with everyone. She noted, “My dad worked in construction and has always been a source of good advice.” That guidance includes being well-versed in the language of construction, over-preparing, and meeting people on their turf. “I learned early on that in order to gain trust and respect, I had to take as many face-to-face meetings as possible,” remarked Liz.

These traits have proven to be beneficial, particularly during tenses. “Meetings like that can be a painful process as it can get very contentious,” she said. In one proceeding, Liz recognized that the older male attorney representing the other side would not address her directly. “He only spoke to the man to my side, who is not only 10 years younger than me, but also has less legal experience.” Despite making decisions the entire meeting, the opposing side continued to not acknowledge Liz. “He wouldn’t look me in the eye,” she lamented. At the conclusion of the negotiations, the opposing representative finally recognized Liz, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in these two days it’s that you are essential to this process.” Feeling accepted, Liz knew her deep knowledge, experience, and her friendly-yet-commanding approach is what earned her the respect.

While she has still experienced setbacks, Liz is thankful for the women before her that blazed trails to allow her to find her place. “I had some people who paved the path ahead of me and now I am interested in helping young women come up through the ranks,” said Liz.

FINDING OPPORTUNITY

Since joining The Heritage family, Liz has found a place that allows her to lean heavily on her expertise while operating in a welcoming, professional environment that celebrates her individual attributes. “One of the reasons I was attracted to The Heritage Group is because the opportunities are limitless and the culture is such that I can use my skill sets in ways that are truly appreciated,” Liz said. She also feels supported and empowered by witnessing strong women in leadership roles at Heritage. “In my past, there have been very few women in leadership roles. While I have typically reported to men, and while I still do, I’ve never been surrounded by as many women leaders as I am now. It’s refreshing,” Liz observed.


“One of the reasons I was attracted to The Heritage Group is because the opportunities are limitless and the culture is such that I can use my skill sets in ways that are truly appreciated,” Liz Larner, General Counsel, HC+M


While ensuring her fellow female colleagues are afforded mutual respect and are aware of avenues to develop their talent, Liz indicates there is still potential for empowerment opportunities in the professional setting. For her, achieving equality within the workforce means that male colleagues, especially those in positions of leadership, need to be challenged and encouraged to advocate for all voices. “I want men in leadership positions to be champions of equality, to be mentors for women,” said Liz. This advice also extends to female colleagues. “There have been times when I’ve questioned whether I should be at the table. I tell younger women to sit at the table. I remind them that they belong there,” she asserted.

For Liz, gaining equality in the workforce means that women need to consult in more advisory roles, sit on more boards, and serve in leadership positions. While she notes that equitability awareness is increasing, she’s persistent in her belief that the road ahead is long. Looking to the future, Liz’s steadfast expectations are as high as her ambitions. “There’s scientific data behind the fact that women in leadership is better for professional relationships, it’s better for cultures, and it’s better for revenue.”