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Homecoming: Sibel Selcuk Appointed EVP of Heritage Research Group

On January 16, 2023, Sibel Selcuk assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Heritage Research Group (HRG), returning to lead a segment of the same organization where she began her career 16 years ago. A home-grown expert, we are delighted to bring Sibel’s deep technical expertise, knowledge of the industry, and talent for people-first leadership back to Heritage Research Group in this new role. “Sibel exemplifies all of the reasons we bet on people and is a natural choice to lead this dynamic group,” said Amy Schumacher, CEO of The Heritage Group.

After earning her chemistry PhD at Louisiana State University, Sibel began her career at HRG as a research chemist and most recently served as Vice President, Global Research and Development and Strategy at Monument Chemical, an operating company of THG. Sibel found a moment to reflect on her time with Monument and how it feels to move into the next chapter of her career. What follows is a brief, modified Q&A she gave as she transitioned from her role with Monument Chemical.


How does it feel to leave Monument and begin your new job leading HRG?
I’m very excited, but it’s also bittersweet. When I joined Monument, I did not envision ever leaving or that I would someday return to HRG. I came to Monument tasked with building a new global R&D organization to boost our collaborative, cross-functional opportunities and enhance our abilities to fuel Monument’s growth. Two years ago, I was asked to be responsible for defining our strategy and identifying our growth levers, and that work was also very exciting to me. I loved my job and the people I got to work with. Monument and HRG will always feel like family to me, and I have this new opportunity because of how much you taught me, helped me grow as a leader, and prepared me for this next step. I look forward to always being part of the Monument and HRG family — you’re stuck with me!

What excites you most about what lies ahead for you with HRG?
It’s very exciting and an honor to return to lead the group I “grew up in.” It’s also humbling, because HRG is such an important part of The Heritage Group’s history going all the way back to Amy’s grandfather, Fred Fehsenfeld Sr., who interviewed me for my first job and became one of my mentors. He understood, as Fred Fehsenfeld Jr. and Amy do, how important R&D and innovation are to The Heritage Group’s future. I’m also very much looking forward to partnering with fellow members of the Heritage Leadership Council to seek future opportunities for HRG and the operating companies to collaborate.

Is your career heading down a path you envisioned, or has it surprised you?
When I was finishing my PhD almost 20 years ago, I pictured myself working as a chemistry professor in Turkey, not as an industry executive in Indiana. In fact, I had two teaching jobs waiting for me in Turkey when I graduated. But I listened to a professor who was advising me when he suggested I look into industry, and here I am. Turns out, it was very good advice.

Speaking of advice, what career advice do you most often share?
My number-one piece of career advice is to not fear change. Change is challenging and can be difficult to manage, but it keeps us moving forward and open to new opportunities. I’ve made some big changes in my life, beginning with leaving Turkey and my family to come to the United States to continue my education. Leaving HRG to join Monument was another big change, and I remember feeling nervous when I started. But I am very grateful I didn’t let uncertainties stop me then or keep me from taking this next step in my path.


As an organization, The Heritage Group is delighted to welcome Sibel back to our HRG team. HRG has played a unique role in the longevity and success of The Heritage Group, helping us innovate and tackle tough problems. As a versatile and experienced leader, Sibel embodies our Heritage values with a forward-thinking approach to innovation and research. In the months ahead, she’ll be working with colleagues new and old to talk, connect, share ideas and work together to build the future of Heritage Research Group.

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A Quick Reflection On United For Service

Coinciding with The Heritage Group’s 92nd anniversary as a company, our inaugural United for Service event was held on Thursday, November 17, 2022. Volunteers from around the Heritage Group of companies and centered in dozens of locations across the country came together, united in generous spirit, to serve the communities in which we live and work. With a focus on addressing food scarcity and insecurity, and in partnership with the United Way, volunteers hosted food drives, assembled food kits, sorted and packaged food donations, and served residents of community shelters. We are so grateful for this opportunity and are proud to celebrate the 1,211 volunteer hours. 

What is United for Service?

United for Service is your opportunity to volunteer side-by-side with your Heritage family to meet a need in your community — putting food on families’ tables. This experience is all about building a sense of community among our Heritage family while also giving back in a meaningful way to the communities where we live and work.

United for Service originated with the Fehsenfeld family as a way for reason for the whole group to get together and bond while giving back to the community.

Why focus on food insecurity?

The need for food is key to our existence. And the enjoyment of food is a part of our culture. Families bond over dinner, co-workers chat over lunch. But for some, putting food on the table is a struggle.

According to the USDA, more than 38 million people, including 12 million children, in the United States are food insecure. In fact, every community in the United States is home to families who face hunger. But rural communities — where many struggle with limited job opportunities and lack of transportation options to reach grocery stores or food pantries — are especially hard hit by hunger.

 

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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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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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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.”

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Giving Back with Give Bags: Supplies for Students

Pictured: Mitch Kovalsky, Project Engineer at Asphalt Materials, Inc., with his Give Bag

Last month, the Heritage family of companies collected supplies for local schools and organizations benefitting students as part of the Give Bag campaign. First launched with a diaper drive in March, this year’s campaign features four opportunities throughout the year for Heritage employees to give back, culminating in a Day of Service in November. Each collection aligns with The Heritage Group’s strategic giving priorities: sustainability, STEM education and families. In May, locations across the country collected items for foster youth, which were donated to dozens of local organizations. As the school year approaches, everything from backpacks to notebooks to art supplies went into Give Bags this July, resulting in a total of 15,763 items. 


“We all need help sometimes, and I’m more than happy to help out in any way that I can. It’s great to work for a company where helping the community is a priority.” — Rebecca Rivers Duncan, business administrator at Asphalt Materials, Inc. (AMI) and a member of the Social Impact Task Force


THE RIGHT PATH

Interns Nate Foy and Fergus Washington-Smith pack some of the 5,116 items from AMI to be donated to the Glick Center.

At Heritage Construction + Materials’ (HC+M) Indianapolis location, donations were delivered to The PATH School (TPS), a free public charter school for grades K-8 that supports students’ social and emotional – as well as academic – growth. Their mission hits close to home for HC+M executive assistant Maly White, who sits on TPS’s board. “My passion is to show the youth that they can make it,” she said. “I’m a product of the LA Unified School District, and the trajectory of there to where I am now is my ‘why.’ People invested their time, energy and knowledge in me along the way, and now it’s my turn to do the same.” 

Maly joined the Heritage family following a 20-year career in social services, where she worked with students and adults with special needs. “Most recently, I worked at the Center for Leadership Development, which had a partnership with The PATH School,” she said. “When I came to Heritage, I wanted to maintain that connection in serving youth. I was approached about being a board member, and I accepted.” Since joining the board, Maly has become immersed in the school’s mission, students and environment. 

The school supply drive is only the latest example of HC+M’s involvement with TPS. Several Heritage co-workers have joined Maly in volunteering with students and donating items, including hats, gloves and scarves last winter. “Here at The Heritage Group, we’re serving people from the heart,” Maly said. “That’s the connection I make with The PATH School: albeit in a different capacity, we’re serving people.” By harnessing the power of the Heritage family, her HC+M office gathered 2,275 school supplies for the students at TPS. 

THG’s commitment to serving local families extends far beyond the first day of school. In September, employees will fill Give Bags with donations for domestic violence shelters and victims of abuse, and in November, employees at THG’s Indianapolis headquarters will partner with the Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center at Cooked Creek for a nationwide Day of Service. For more information on THG’s giving and service efforts, visit https://thgrp.com/community/. 

 

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Talking Talent: Fellow to Full Time

Pictured: Annie outside the Biosynthetic Technologies lab

Finding Heritage

Annie (left) with Fellows on a hike during 2020 winter retreat in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

When Chicago native and chemical engineering major Annie Hynes began her senior year at University of Notre Dame in 2018, she wasn’t sure what career she’d pursue after graduation. By the time she walked across the stage at commencement, though, her next two years were set: Annie had accepted an Orr Fellowship. That meant she’d have a full-time job and a whole lot more. Orr Fellowship supports young professionals with a community of peers and opportunities for continued learning and community involvement.

As a senior at Notre Dame, Annie had already explored career options within her major. “I had interned in research at a biotech company in college, but I wasn’t convinced that engineering was the right place,” she said. Orr Fellowship gave Annie a chance to learn about all areas of a business, which appealed to her curiosity. “The Fellowship is two years to explore, to get new experiences and figure out what you want to do — and I liked that,” she said. At Finalist Day, the last step of Orr’s application process, Annie and her fellow candidates interviewed with a handful of Orr’s dozens of Partner Companies — including The Heritage Group (THG).

Annie had no idea what to expect going into her interview with THG, but she was “happily surprised that Heritage had both science and engineering opportunities as well as business opportunities,” she said. The interviewers from THG, Matt Kriech and Kierstin Janik, were happy with Annie, too. Orr Fellowship matched her with THG for three eight-month rotations.

Exploring Heritage Companies

Annie’s first rotation began in June 2019 with Biosynthetic Technologies (BT), which had been recently acquired by The Heritage Group. Her degree in chemical engineering translated well to her research work with Biosynthetic, where she circulated samples to generate interest in the company’s capabilities.

Recognizing the benefits of the company was easy. “With The Heritage Group, you’re being backed by the security of a 90+ year old company, but you still get innovative entrepreneurial experiences from a startup as well,” Annie said.

“Annie reacted quite well to the challenges of an early-stage company, which can be chaotic to say the least,” commented COO Matt Kriech, Annie’s supervisor at BT. “She worked with a diverse team to create technical data packages that greatly accelerated our time to market by reducing the amount of technical development our manufacturers had to do.”

Annie on the job in her current role at Asphalt Materials, Inc.

For her second rotation, Annie relocated to Houston, Texas, to work as a production engineer with Monument Chemical. Orr Fellows are typically based in Indianapolis, so Annie’s time in Houston was unique. “I had never worked at a plant before, so that was my introduction to manufacturing, and I loved it,” Annie said.

“Usually, when we get someone that new out of school, they focus on one area until they’re comfortable,” said Operations Manager Jake Moehring, Annie’s supervisor at Monument. “Annie made it a point to branch out and take the opportunity to get involved with as much as she could.”

In March of 2020, Annie and many of her co-workers at Monument went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the new virtual environment, she developed experience in the manufacturing field by monitoring production processes using automatic data collection from the plant. “I was still using my degree, but in a way I didn’t really know was possible,” Annie said. “I liked the creativity of the work and I loved my team there, so it was a really positive experience.”

During each of Annie’s rotations, her Heritage leaders made a difference. “I was given a lot of responsibility off the bat because of how much my managers trusted me and believed in me,” she said. “I liked the ability to make an impact early on in my career.”

Annie’s experience echoes other young professionals who are met with trust and responsibility when they join the Heritage family. For example, “I make it a point to treat our college interns as close as possible to a full-time new hire engineer,” Jake said. “I want them to be engaged and exposed to all areas of the plant to get a real taste of the role so they can make a good decision for their career path.”

Annie’s third and final rotation was completely remote, so she spent her final eight months of the Fellowship working from home in Chicago. Annie worked as a financial analyst for Heritage Environmental Services’ accounting and finance department, an area new to her academically and professionally. “To get that experience in accounting and finance was really beneficial to any job I might have in the future,” she said. “It’s nice to have a well-rounded picture of how our businesses operate from end to end. That has definitely benefited me, even in my current role in engineering.”

Joining the Heritage team

Annie (right) with colleagues at AMI

After her Orr Fellowship ended, Annie became one of the 57% of Fellows who stay with their Partner Companies by accepting an offer from Asphalt Materials, Inc. to work as a manufacturing engineer. Her work is primarily remote, but she travels to locations where J-Band is produced in Illinois and Indiana. “The work I do now is more like production planning and working out the kinks,” she said. “With some of our products, there are unique obstacles that I can help troubleshoot, which can be done remotely.”

Annie was one of The Heritage Group’s first two Fellows, but she is far from the last. THG has hired two Fellows from the class of 2020 and two from the class of 2021, and three more Fellows joined the Heritage family after their graduation in May 2022.

THG’s Early Career Talent Specialist, Lexie Seward, was an Orr Fellow at another Partner Company before joining the Heritage family. “Orr Fellows’ eagerness to participate in a wide range of experiences allows us to be creative with the rotations and make sure we fit company need with a Fellow’s interests,” Lexie said. “Overall, Orr Fellows bring curiosity and adaptability to THG. Because they’re agile and hungry for experience, there’s no limit to what they can do here.”

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Building a Safer World

For each of our more than 30 businesses, safety is a top priority. Because we tackle the big problems, we need processes that ensure the safety of our people and our environment. These are just two of the safety stories that happen at our locations every day, one close to home and one across the ocean.

Kallo’s Safety Milestone

from left: Manu, Gretel and Monument CEO Paul Raymond celebrate the milestone on site.

On Thursday, March 17, 2022, Monument Chemical’s Kallo, Belgium, team hit 1000 days without a major safety incident or lost time injury. And with 130 employees and 70 contractors working on site at any given time, the focus on safety has a large net to cast.

“Safety is all about behavior, and repetition is how you change behavior,” Manu Gyselinck, Kallo site manager, explained. “So here at Kallo, the conversation never stops. We’re constantly reiterating the importance of reporting incidents, no matter how small. These ongoing discussions are designed to make people feel more comfortable speaking up. We want our team to understand that when you make something visible to everyone, it can become an opportunity to learn and improve.”

While it’s important that these efforts start from the top, teamwork is the only way they can actually be executed.

“When you’re talking about safety, you’re never alone,” Manu added. “We focus on tiered accountability. As a site manager, I have to push and pull these efforts forward through my own actions. But I always expect everyone on site to keep safety top of mind and motivate one another to share this mindset. Our teams know the impact these efforts have on themselves, their colleagues, and their families, so in this way, they become stakeholders in the process.”

Much of this success is due to the implementation of the “STOP Principle” that encourages putting safety first before production.

“If something is not going in the right direction, we have to stop and evaluate,” Manu shared. “Everyone has the right to raise their hand and stop the process to help keep things on track. In the end, it’s about taking care of the customer, our colleagues and the livelihood of the plant. And with a stronger plant, lower costs will follow.”

“With all the challenges on our plates each day, it’s easy to slip into a reactive mindset,” Adam Pingel, VP of operations, explained. “But that only makes it tougher to get in front of issues. Constantly reevaluating what we’re doing and how we can do it better can help us resolve issues more effectively and efficiently – and hopefully prevent them from ever happening in the first place.”

A week after the team reached the milestone, the site hosted a food truck serving a delicious lunch of hamburgers and french fries to everyone in the main office. It was a small way to show appreciation for the great effort from everyone on the team, and a reminder that safety isn’t just about hard work—when achieved together, it can also be fun.

“When we win in safety, there are great opportunities to celebrate,” Adam added. “And there are opportunities to do that every single day. Our milestone celebrations are great, but our real wins happen every day thanks to every single person on this team.”

Flying the Black Flag at AMI

Hands-on confined space training at AMI’s Eau Claire, Wisconsin, location.

Stop-work authority is a policy that permits any employee to halt a job when they recognize a potentially hazardous or dangerous situation. At AMI, stop-work authority is called the Black Flag Safety Initiative — and it’s vital to maintaining a safe and empowering workplace culture.

If at any time an employee feels uncomfortable about a situation or task, they can stop and call “black flag.” This initiates a timeout that allows others to assess the potential for risk and put together a plan to address it, even if the risk seems small.

“Black flags can be as simple as an employee recognizing they need a different tool for a job or checking with a teammate if they’re getting too hot and need a break,” said Crystal Hudak, Regional Safety Director at AMI. “Many black flags are simply employees working hard, recognizing something isn’t right, and removing or mitigating the hazard as part of their everyday work.”

Crystal on the job in St. Elmo, Illinois.

A recent example of the black flag safety initiative comes from AMI’s Utica, Illinois, location. “An employee noticed that the amount of hot material a driver requested to load would put the total amount very close to the trailer’s maximum gallons,” Crystal said. “If there was an error in loading hot material, the trailer could have overflowed or material could have leaked out of the vent while the trailer was traveling down the road.” Recognizing the risk, the employee called black flag.

Ultimately, the driver and employee agreed to load less material, avoiding the potential for a leak. “This is a fantastic example of an employee noticing a potential safety or environmental issue and taking steps to address the hazard,” Crystal said.

Throwing the black flag – notifying your immediate supervisor of a hazard or concern – is everyone’s responsibility. Each employee is empowered with the same authority to stop work, meaning even AMI’s newest hires have the ability to ensure safety if an issue arises. “All employees are empowered to call a black flag, regardless of how many years they have on the job site,” Crystal said. “All of us can notice a hazard that someone else misses.”

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Talking Talent: Intern to Employee

Cole Radel had never heard of The Heritage Group when he applied for an internship with THG in fall of 2020, but after a few weeks into his role as the group’s Learning Management System (LMS) intern, he knew he’d found a place to call home. Cole said he’s always felt like a valued part the Heritage team — as an intern, as an employee and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Cole at his May 2021 graduation from IU-Kokomo

During his 9-month internship, Cole served as a main point of contact for anything related to Lessonly, the group’s LMS, uploading lessons and running reports for HR partners and managers. He was also pulled into other human resources projects, making connections across the HR team. Cole reported to Kaitlin Odom, an HR Shared Services project manager who recognized his talent and gave him meaningful projects. “I never felt like an intern,” Cole said. “Kaitlin and the rest of the HR team just treated me like a valued employee from the start.”

By May 2021, Cole had finished his bachelor’s degree at IU-Kokomo. The internship experiences on his resume helped him decide that he wanted a career in HR, so when he told Kaitlin and others from the HR team that he had ideas for improving the employee experience, they were all ears. “I told them that I wanted to be in front of people, interviewing, playing ‘hostess with the mostest’ for the company,” he said, “and I felt like they were on my team, encouraging me.”

So Heritage decided to bet on Cole. Because people were impressed with the work he’d done on the corporate orientation program, they found a position on the Talent Acquisition team that matched his interests. “Lisa Minter [Talent Acquisition Partner for THG] and I are two peas in a pod,” Cole said of his manager upon joining the Corporate HR and Talent Acquisition team. “Our personalities are so alike — so we have a lot of fun working together!”

People at THG have been warm and welcoming, but that’s not been the case in Cole’s previous workplace. Because of some uncomfortable experiences, he knew what he was looking for in an employer: one who would welcome him to be his authentic self at work, where he could talk about his personal life when everyone else was talking about theirs.

Cole (first row, right) with members of the summer 2021 intern cohort

“When I joined The Heritage Group as an intern, I took a risk,” Cole said. “It was a test, really, sharing with Kaitlin that I had a boyfriend during my first week. And Heritage passed that test with flying colors.

“To be authentic in the workplace, compared to previously experiencing discomfort elsewhere, leaves me feeling free: free to be happy, free to be vulnerable, free to bring my best and entire self to work. Ultimately, being authentic at work leads to the best experience for me and those around me. I cannot thank Heritage enough for providing this inclusive culture.”

Being his best and authentic self, Cole recently earned a promotion to Talent Acquisition Specialist, with plans to earn his SHRM certification. And because he wanted the full-circle experience, Cole is now mentoring a group of THG’s summer interns.

THG’s internship program is proving to be an invaluable part of our talent pipeline, introducing talented young people to our business and giving them a chance to experience our culture first-hand.