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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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Cultivating Confidence

How an innovative female scientist launched a Turkish startup, forged a career in global research and development and created a legacy of leadership

A strong foundation

Sibel at her college graduation

When Sibel Selcuk joined Heritage Research Group (HRG) in 2006, HRG looked very different than it does today. “There were only three female scientists, including me,” said Sibel, who first came to the United States after graduate school in Turkey. “Now when you look at HRG, we have not only female scientists but female engineers. We’ve become more diverse in every angle you can imagine. And that’s really important.”   

Back in the mid-2000s, Sibel was new to Indianapolis and searching for a job. With a Ph.D. in chemistry and the help of the American Chemical Society, Sibel connected with Erin Clark, a senior analytical research chemist at HRG.   

Erin introduced Sibel to The Heritage Group. Soon after, Sibel joined HRG as a research chemist, working on everything from asphalt emulsions to shampoo. The diversity of the job brought surprise and satisfaction.  

“What I ended up doing for the Heritage Research Group — I didn’t even know a job like that existed,” Sibel said. “One day I’d be working on an asphalt-related project, and then it would be an environmental customer’s project, and the next day I’d be doing analytical work.”


“You work with something new every day, and you make new things out of the things that people can’t use. It’s always problem-solving, and that’s the part that I love.” 


Launching innovation

Sibel networking with young professionals

In addition to her dedication to the work happening in the lab, Sibel formed a bond with her HRG co-workers. “When I joined HRG, I had just gotten married, and I had absolutely no family in town,” Sibel said. “Everyone in that group became my family — and they treated me like family. It doesn’t matter where I am. I know they’re there for me and I’ll be there for them.”  

After finding a home in the lab, Sibel began to consider how total waste management could apply to new settings. Observing a coworker’s business venture abroad, she sought out new opportunities for the business to grow internationally. “I came up with a couple of ideas and I presented them, and for some of them they said no,” Sibel noted. She remained determined to keep her eyes open for opportunity. “Then I presented the opportunity in Turkey, and they said yes.”  


“When they said, ‘we’re going to do this,’ what they meant was: ‘We’re going to do this because we believe in you.’ That meant a lot to me.”


International insight

Sibel’s daughter Ada, an aspiring scientist

Starting a business in her native Turkey was a turning point for Sibel’s career. “The Heritage Group believed in the business,” she recalled, “but more so, they believed in me.” Betting on Sibel paid off: İnteraktif Çevre, Heritage’s Turkish waste management venture, was established in 2015.   

Sibel had experience in market intelligence and technology evaluation, and the Turkish startup was her first foray into business management. But she was ready. Her background in science had prepared her for much more than working in the lab.  

“In chemistry, graduate study is more like problem solving, so it teaches you how to approach a problem or an opportunity and figure it out. That’s similar to building a business and doing a startup,” Sibel said.  After seeing her success at İnteraktif Çevre, Heritage leadership recognized Sibel’s talent. “I was so lucky. Amy (Schumacher, CEO of The Heritage Group) was my mentor throughout my career. She always supported me, so when she asked if I would consider a position at Monument, it turned into my best experience at Heritage.”  


“I did lab work, I did development, I did a startup, but until joining Monument I was never part of an operating company. Seeing how Monument works has dramatically changed my perspective on research and how we do things.”


A lasting bond

Sibel during her first year of PhD studies

In her current role as vice president of Global Research & Development and Strategy for Monument Chemical, Sibel unites her passion for chemistry with business savvy to solve problems for customers across the globe. She credits her experience at Monument with a new perspective on the chemical research process.   

“When we develop something in the lab, we’re fairly good about thinking big picture. But when we live it day in day out, it’s really different,” Sibel said.  

“It takes big-picture thinking in a real-world context to take opportunities to the next level. We need more scientists and engineers who lead with practical applications in mind. It’s really important for them to develop themselves, but it also helps the businesses overall.” 


“Within Heritage it doesn’t matter gender, ethnicity, background, culture, all that—if you create value and if you do the right thing, you have tons of opportunities.” 


Facing the future with confidence

Reflecting on her career as a woman in a male-dominated field, Sibel noted that gender shouldn’t hold anyone back from their aspirations.   

The key is to build self-confidence, something Sibel prioritizes when mentoring young scientists. She encourages her mentees to build their confidence in the lab before venturing out: “Giving yourself time there will strengthen your leadership skills and your contribution to the business in the long run.”  

Linda Osborn (left) and Sibel at The Center

Scientific skills have value in the business realm. That’s just one reason, Sibel said, that all scientists should feel confident that they can contribute beyond science and technology.  

In addition to mentoring, Sibel prioritizes giving back to the American Chemical Society, which helped her secure her first job at HRG. In 2013, she and Linda Osborn, Director of Analytical Research at HRG, worked with ACS to plan an event for children to celebrate science. The event was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), which has benefitted from HRG’s research on and development of asphalt and aggregates.   

Sibel hopes that her passion for mentoring and inspiring young people will encourage more kids — especially more young girls — to explore science. Her advice for them? “Whatever you want to do as a woman, you just have to believe in yourself and go after it. Being female or male is not a differentiating factor.” 

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Meet the Recipients of the Brothers Scholarship

pictured: Brothers Scholarship recipient Ashlyn Halstead (right) and her dad, Robert Rood.

The Heritage Group is proud to announce that 114 dependents of Heritage family employees have been awarded a Brothers Scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year. The program awards renewable scholarships of $2,000 to recipients to assist with the cost of higher education. By investing in students’ futures as they pursue a college degree, we’re sharing the passion for education held by the Fehsenfeld family—including the brothers for whom the scholarship is named.

Among the future leaders awarded this year’s scholarships are 40 first-year recipients, many of whom began their undergraduate studies last fall. These students represent 27 colleges and universities across the United States, reflecting the breadth and diversity of the Heritage family. The remaining 74 recipients are in their second, third, fourth or fifth year of receiving the scholarship.

“The Brothers Scholarship is an outstanding opportunity for our organization to give back to the families of our employees and to help invest in the educational attainment of our future leaders,” said Early Career Talent Specialist Lexie Seward. “Brothers Scholars are uniquely situated not only to benefit from our scholarship program, but also from the unique opportunity to participate in our summer internship program, which many have done so far.”

Meet the Scholars

Ashlyn and her dad Robert

Ashlyn Halstead, a third-year recipient, is a Marketing major with a sales management concentration at Indiana State University. She spent last summer as an intern with Milestone Contractors, where her dad Robert Rood is an Asphalt Manager.

“The Brothers Scholarship has been a blessing to me and my family for the past three years. As a student who lives outside of my parents’ home, I have a lot of financial obligations. Receiving the scholarship has given me financial security when it comes to school and has helped ensure that I have enough financial aid to cover tuition and book fees for the year. I want to thank the Heritage Group for the support they have given me and the help they have provided in reaching my academic success.” – Ashlyn

“The Brothers Scholarship has been a tremendous gift to my family! To see them support my daughter’s educational dreams brings me pure joy. I would like to thank The Heritage Group for all that they do!” – Robert


Conner and his dad Jason

Former THG intern Conner Woods is a second-year recipient majoring in biochemistry at North Park University with plans to pursue a PhD after graduation. His dad, Jason Woods, is a Bulk Dispatcher at Heritage Environmental Services.

“The scholarship allows me to venture outside of Indianapolis and my family and I to breathe comfortably financially. Our main worry heading into my collegiate career was cost, and The Heritage Group has helped greatly in that sense.” – Conner

“Our family is grateful that Conner received the Brothers Scholarship. His goal of attending school in Chicago was able to come to fruition, in part, due to the scholarship. His goal is to graduate debt free and pursue a PhD, the scholarship has eased the financial burden for him. I am extremely thankful to work for a family-owned company that has the vision to invest in young individuals and talent.” – Jason


Lauren and her dad Brian

Lauren Sliger is a second-year recipient majoring in psychology and minoring in chemistry at Butler University. She plans to go to dental school after graduation and finds inspiration in her dad, Milestone Superintendent Brian Sliger’s, work ethic.

“When I first realized I received the Brothers Scholarship, I felt very honored. It definitely motivated and drove me to focus on my academics without having the financial burden and stress. College is so expensive, so having this scholarship meant a lot to my family, especially to my dad through his work. It motivates to help out my community as well.

“Watching my dad in his career, I was very inspired to work hard through whatever I was doing. He’s always been passionate about getting the job done, teaching people, being a leader—and I knew that whatever I was doing, I wanted to bring the same attitude and leadership. I’ve been inspired through the scholarship to focus on school and bring the same passion to my community that I learned from my dad.”


Hunter and his family

Hunter Assenmacher is a second-year recipient enrolled in a five-year masters program in architectural engineering at Lawrence Technological University. His dad, Scott Assenmacher, works in sales at Asphalt Materials, Inc. Hunter’s sister Hanna Assenmacher is also a Brothers Scholarship recipient.

“The Heritage Group made me feel like I’m part of the family, and part of something bigger than just myself. My family and I have always put family first, and it’s really nice to see how a large company like this has the same values, just on a much larger scale. So as a student, it’s really furthered my desire to learn and work towards a career where I can find myself in a supportive community like this and eventually give back in a similar way.” – Hunter

“It starts with family, and I’m really proud to be part of the Heritage family. I’m happy to be the catalyst that gets to tie it all together so that my kids can benefit from this scholarship.” – Scott


To learn more about the Brothers Scholarship and how you can apply for next year’s funds, visit https://thgrp.com/brothers-scholarship/.

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A Place in the Honor Fleet

Pictured: Teresa Wade (left) and Joanne Jones at a Wreaths Across America educational event.

For Heritage Transport truck drivers, hauling loads across the country is nothing new. For the past five Decembers, select Heritage drivers have carried a special load: thousands of wreaths to be laid on veterans’ graves across the country.

A Heritage Environmental Services truck ready to haul wreaths across the United States.

Wreaths Across America began in 1992 with a mission: To remember veterans, honor those who serve and teach future generations the value of freedom. In 2016, Heritage Transport sent two trucks to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Joliet, Illinois, a meaningful site for members of the Heritage family whose loved ones are buried there.

“Most everyone has a veteran in their life, and this is our way of saying thank you for the freedom that we have today,” said Teresa Wade, Asset Management Coordinator at Heritage Environmental Services. “It touches my heart because my husband is retired military, so this is a big part of my life.” Wade comes from a family of servicepeople, including her father, nephews and twin brother. The Heritage Group is proudly home to hundreds of veterans, including Fred Fehsenfeld, Sr., former CEO and the second in The Heritage Group’s four generations of family leadership.


“The motto of Wreaths across America is to remember, honor and teach. We’re remembering the soldiers and honoring them, and teaching our children the importance of our freedom.” – Teresa Wade, Asset Management Coordinator at HES


Teresa Wade demonstrates placing a wreath at a Wreaths across America educational event.

Although the initiative is nation-wide, Heritage’s involvement hits close to home. Each year, more employees get involved, not only by donating to purchase wreaths but by volunteering to lay them in their local cemeteries. This year, seven HES locations will be laying wreaths, including those near Toledo Memorial Park Cemetery and Mausoleum in Ohio and National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in western Pennsylvania, where active Heritage managers were called to serve overseas. Employees from all over the company’s 26 locations have donated, and Indianapolis locations have hosted various fundraising events throughout the years. “This is our goal: to one day have donated as many wreaths as we transport,” said Joanne Jones, HES’s Sustainability Leader.

The drive itself, spanning from Columbia Falls, Maine, to one of 2,500 national cemeteries, is an honor shared by nine Heritage drivers so far. “It’s a privilege for the drives to haul the loads. You have a lot of drivers that request it,” said Jones.

“We let our veterans volunteer first, and then we have a lot of drivers that aren’t veterans, but their family members are. They want to do their part—they’re really big supporters. So they also had the opportunity to go,” added Wade.


“We like to honor our veterans, and include them, and show them that we care.” – Joanne Jones, Sustainability Director at HES


Members of the Heritage family salute fallen veterans.

National Wreaths Across America Day—a Saturday in December when tens of thousands of volunteers lay wreaths in cemeteries across the nation—has become a Heritage family affair. This year, Jones, Wade and their families will be traveling to Arlington to volunteer, where they’ll join military parent and HES Senior Vice President Angie Martin and her husband.

“We all really care about this charity and so many people—everyone that donates, everyone that lays wreaths—has a story to tell about their family, and that’s why they continue to support it. That goes to the whole Heritage family culture that we have, and family values,” Jones said. “I’m just proud to belong to a company that is so supportive of this cause,” Wade added. “It just means so much to me.”

To donate to HES’s Wreaths Across America page by sponsoring a wreath, visit https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/social/IN0127-HeritageEnvironmentalServices?Sid=166306|14720|0|1.

To read about two of The Heritage Group’s veterans, visit https://thgrp.com/a-reunion-to-remember/.

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A Reunion to Remember

pictured: Kris Grandlinard (left) and Chuck Myers at US Aggregates’ Portland, Indiana location

On November 11 and every day, we want to thank our more than hundreds of veterans in the Heritage family for your service. To celebrate Veterans Day, enjoy this story of two veterans who reconnected at US Aggregates after serving together over 30 years ago.


Kris Grandlinard

Kris Grandlinard joined the armed forces in 1986, following in the footsteps of World War II veterans in his family. “I felt a duty to honor them and to serve my country,” Kris said. A recruiter’s call for special volunteers set him on a course to Arlington to join a special unit called the 3rd Infantry, also known as the Old Guard. Since 1784, the Old Guard has performed ceremonies and attended to dignitaries and diplomatic events in Washington, DC.

In preparation for joining the Old Guard in Fort Myer, VA, Kris went through more than just basic training. “My company wore period uniforms of the Revolutionary War,” he said, “and we had to polish the buttons ourselves.” The precision and attention to detail instilled in the recruits was essential to their performance not only as soldiers, but as leaders of ceremony.

The Old Guard performs in the Spirit of America pageant

While Kris would lead burials at Arlington and escort government officials, his unit also performed in the Spirit of America, the largest military pageant in the US Army. In the pageant, the Old Guard would reenact historic battles in authentic uniforms while carrying and firing real firearms.

“It helped that the lights were only on the floor and you didn’t see the crowd, but you knew they were there,” Kris said. If he could have seen into the sound booth during his first Spirit of America in 1986, he would have noticed Chuck Myers, who would become his coworker decades later.


Chuck Myers

Chuck’s career ambitions in voice work led him to the military. “In high school, I was terrified to speak in front of people, so I had to learn really fast to overcome that,” he said. After earning a degree in broadcasting, he decided to further his education by joining the armed forces. Like Kris, Chuck was recruited to join the Old Guard; after an audition, he got orders to train in preparation for serving at Arlington.

From 1984-86, Chuck worked at Arlington National Cemetery, issuing periodic announcements. His duties also led him to become “the voice of the Old Guard”—the narrator of the Spirit of America pageant.

Chuck’s last Spirit of America performance was in 1986, the same year that Kris began his tenure with the Old Guard. Both men—one on stage and one narrating from the sound booth—would end up in eastern Indiana decades later, both working for US Aggregates.


Alpha Company

After four years in the army, Kris decided to return to agriculture on his family’s farm. Having grown up across from a stone quarry, he met the owners and mentioned he was looking for a job. In 1990, he started at US Agg’s Linn Grove, Indiana location.

Chuck came back from the military and began working in construction with his brother-in-law. He transitioned to factory work, and then to his current job as a Plant Clerk at US Agg’s Portland, Indiana location. He continues to do radio, voiceover and narration work in his own time.

“I take great pride in being able to serve my people and our country. I just wanted to give back after what this great nation has given me,” Kris said, referring to the gravity of his work in the Old Guard’s Alpha Company and its impact on the families of those he helped lay to rest in Arlington.

The Old Guard at a Revolutionary War reenactment

Chuck appreciates the understanding of American history he gained as a member of the Old Guard. “It was a privilege to serve my country. I really enjoy living in this country and I understand the way that it was formed,” he said.


Fast forward to 2019. A US Agg newsletter celebrating the company’s veterans detailed both Kris’s and Chuck’s service histories. “I saw it in the BLAST, and the next time I saw Chuck, I asked him about it and we got to talking,” Kris said. “It was kind of neat that we were both there, even though it was a short period of time because Chuck had moved on in ’86 and I was just getting there.”

“What are the odds of that? Such a small area we live in, a rural area, and ending up at the same place,” Chuck added. Out of all the possible placements for a soldier in 1986, both ended up in the same premiere unit, overlapping for a single performance.