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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.