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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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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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Trailblazing Babione Sisters Visit Delphi Quarry

For sisters Blair and Brienne Babione, who inspired the Carmel City Council to enforce gender-neutral road signage, summer vacation began with a visit to US Aggregates’ Delphi quarry.

  • Blair and Brienne Babione, sisters from Carmel known for their role in a recent City Council resolution enforcing gender-neutral road signage, were invited by Heritage Construction + Materials to visit US Aggregates’ Delphi quarry.
  • The tour focused on careers in the materials sciences, a booming field where women are historically underrepresented.
  • The girls’ father, John Babione, began his own career at Heritage Environmental Services after he graduated from college.

Brienne and Blair pose in front of one of US Aggregates’ wheel loaders.

Over the course of winter 2020, Blair and Brienne Babione noticed “Men Working” signs in their Carmel, Indiana, neighborhood. The girls, who had seen women on road work crews before, questioned the wording on the sign.

“We thought it was unfair to girls because it said, ‘Men Working’, and some girls want to do construction,” said Brienne, 9.

The sisters had reason to challenge the gender-specific language they saw. According to the National Association of Women in Construction, women make up almost 10% of the construction industry. The signs, placed around the City of Carmel by a contractor, were in violation of the 1988 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which has prohibited “Men Working” signage in favor of more specific pictograms like a flag or human figure. After questioning the signage, Brienne and her sister Blair, 11, researched the history of the sign with the help of their mother, Leslie Babione. They found out that the MUTCD phased out the use of Men Working signs decades ago. The girls then decided to write letters to the Carmel City Council advocating for the signs to be removed. Those letters spurred City Council President Sue Finkam to introduce a resolution enforcing the MUTCD regulations.

Brienne Babione selects fossils as Bill Corbett explains how they are formed.

“’Men Working’ or ‘Men At Work’ signage communicates the false and unacceptable message that women cannot or should not work in the construction trades or other related fields,” the resolution reads.

Thanks to the actions of Blair and Brienne, the resolution was passed. Soon, the story went viral as a source of inspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic, garnering national news coverage from Good Morning America, USA Today and more.

“I wanted to thank them for using their voices,” said Kierstin Janik, Chief Talent Officer of Heritage Construction + Materials.

Janik, a woman working in the construction industry and a fellow Carmel resident, heard about the girls’ story and decided to reach out.

“As a woman in a male-dominated industry, it’s important to me that I encourage young girls to be interested in what we do. They need to see that there are role models paving the way,” said Janik.

John, Brienne, Blair and Leslie examine a vessel used to heat aggregate samples.

On behalf of HC+M, Janik sent a gift basket to the Babione home with construction-themed toys and treats. She made sure to include a note inviting the girls to visit US Aggregates’ Delphi, Indiana, stone quarry over their summer break.

The sisters were on board. Both took an interest in the labeled rocks included in the gift basket, and Blair mentioned her interest in a career in geology. Brienne, a collector of rocks and shells, who had to miss her third-grade field trip to a rock quarry because of the pandemic, was thrilled to make the visit. With clear skies in the forecast, June 4 was the perfect day to visit.

The girls and their parents were met by Bill Corbett, Plant Manager at the Delphi quarry. Corbett modified his typical tour to introduce the girls to aspects of a career in the material sciences. The tour began at the on-site lab, where the Babione family learned how various products were monitored for quality. The girls got to meet Serena Cade, Quality Control Technician for US Aggregates, who was working on drying and testing samples during the tour.

Kierstin Janik and John Babione listen to Plant Manager Bill Corbett in the quarry while Brienne and Blair hunt for rocks.

“Gender has nothing to do with how successful someone may become,” Cade later said. “If you want it, go and get it. Nothing is stopping you.”

Corbett took the family through the quarry, answering questions like “Why are the rocks shiny?” and “How does the front loader run?” Surrounded by machinery, piles of fossils and a shockingly clear blue lake, the Babione sisters learned all about careers in the construction industry.

Exposing more young girls to construction and the materials sciences can help drive female participation in those industries. As of 2018, 971,000 women were employed in the construction sector. Contrasted with the number of men in the industry (which is 10 times higher), it’s clear that there’s still a “concrete ceiling” to be shattered. So how can the construction industry address it?

According to Corbett, it’s investing in young talent like Blair and Brienne.

“When kids come to the quarry, we really focus on encouraging them. Kids have a natural curiosity about this stuff that can turn into careers for them when they grow up.”

Blair and Brienne scale a wheel loader.

US Aggregates has partnered with various local organizations to promote awareness of construction careers and passion for material sciences. Groups of students from local schools regularly visit US Aggregates quarries for tours focusing on technical career skills and operations (students from Area 30 recently visited the Cloverdale location). Building a safer, more enriching and sustainable world means having women in the industries that make our world work — and the Babione sisters agree.

“If people don’t speak up, then it won’t change,” Blair said.

Organizations like NAWIC and Women of Asphalt aim to empower women in the construction industry and recruit the next generation of female construction professionals. Members of the Heritage family seek to do the same through educational initiatives like Kids Science Camp, which took place virtually in July 2021.

Janik and Corbett show off one of US Aggregates’ material handlers.

“Our community outreach and youth engagement are really important for showing young girls (and any young person) that our construction and materials industry not only exists, but it’s interesting and could be a viable career for them,” said Janik. “We, as a company and industry, have to embrace the change in talent pool demographics and be diligent about the signals we are sending about inclusion.”

Blair and Brienne’s father, John Babione, is one of the many professionals who began their career as members of the Heritage family; when he graduated from college, Babione started working at Heritage Environmental Services in Indianapolis. His daughters’ interest in the materials sciences reminded him of the beginnings of his own career.

“I was inspired by all the very bright people working at HES and the innovative solutions they were working on to help customers responsibly manage industrial waste,” he said. “Working there made me want to obtain an advanced degree, which led me to attend law school.”

John, Leslie, Blair and Brienne Babione pose in front of the lake at the Delphi quarry.

Babione looks back fondly on his time with the Heritage Family from his career in law.

“I was amazed at becoming reconnected to the Heritage Group all these years later through my children,” Babione added. “It shows me that the great company I worked for years ago continues to be a leader in the community.”

What’s next for the Babione sisters? A career in geology could be in store for Blair, whose favorite part of the quarry tour was exploring the machinery used to load and transport aggregates. Her younger sister Brienne aspires to be a veterinarian. But first, the girls look forward to a summer vacation full of dance lessons, 4-H projects and library books on one of their favorite subjects: women’s history and the suffrage movement.