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Supporting Foster Families

Family: The cherished framework of our Heritage culture and one of the big reasons I was drawn to work for this company. Healthy, loving families come in many forms, foster families being one.

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Foster Kids & Families

On any given day in the United States, nearly 424,000 children live in foster families. Foster families open their homes to provide a safe place for kids who’ve experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect or other dramatic family disruption. Research shows that kids who experience highly stressful, traumatic experiences in their young lives have a higher risk for chronic health problems, mental illness and substance use problems in adolescence and adulthood. Early abuse can also negatively impact educational achievement, job opportunities and earning potential. However, a stable, supportive relationship with an adult can help children do well, even when they have faced significant hardships.

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Supporting Foster Families

May is National Foster Care Month, a cause near and dear to our Heritage family. Several employees serve as foster parents and other advocates, and we have former foster kids — including myself — among us too. To show our support for foster kids and families, our collective Heritage family is conducting a Give Bag collection May 2-20. The focus on foster support also aligns with the work of the J. E. Fehsenfeld Family Foundation (JEFFF) and is squarely in the center of Heritage’s strategic giving pillar which focuses on thriving children.

Lisa Ziemba, President, J.E. Fehsenfeld Family Foundation shared, “I’m excited to see The Heritage Group companies supporting an issue that is so important to the family foundation. For many years, JEFFF has provided regular support to a variety of foster care organizations across the country.”

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Families in the Trenches

Mike Wagley, plant operator at Asphalt Materials Inc.’s Warsaw plant, and his wife, Misty, have served as foster parents for 16 years. The children they’ve taken in through the program have ranged in age from 1 year to 17 years old. “Most kids only come into the home with a bag of clothes to their name,” Mike shared, “and most of the clothes aren’t fit to use.” Mike and Misty help their foster kids find a sense of normalcy by encouraging them to participate in school activities, sports and music. As a foster family, they enjoy going bowling, camping and visiting local racetracks.

Brandon and Rachel Roll’s family

Brandon Roll, leadman at US Aggregates’ Flat Rock quarry, and his wife, Rachel, saw a post on social media about the number of foster children in Indiana and the lack of available homes. In their hearts, they knew they had to do something. For one year, they’ve been foster parents and have welcomed 14-year-old twin girls into their family. When asked what items would be most helpful to collect for foster kids and families, Brandon suggested, “Clothes are always good (our foster children came to us with hardly any), gift cards for the foster kids so that they can purchase things that they want — this also gives them the chance to make decisions in a time when a lot of decisions are made for them — and their favorite candy and snacks.” He added, “Tickets to sports games, amusement parks, the zoo, etc., are a great gift! These fun times empower kids to be kids, something many foster children desperately need!”

Keely and Todd Hillard

Todd Hillard, senior purchasing manager for Asphalt Materials Inc., and his wife, Keely, had a desire to give back and began opening their home to kids in need last year. They currently have two foster kids, ages 2 and 4. Todd described the 2-year-old as quiet, sneaky and silly and the 4-year-old as energetic, caring and wild. Both children enjoy parks and playing. Regarding the May give bag collection for foster kids and families, Todd said, “I’m glad that our organization is supporting those in need. Foster families need support through both material needs and emotional needs.”

My Own Family

My kindergarten photo – You’ll see I got myself ready by cutting my own bangs.

I was a foster kid, too. I was part of the system my entire adolescence, in and out of different children’s homes, institutions and foster care as the cycle of poverty and addiction kept getting ahold of my young single mother. Her rights were eventually terminated when I was 13, and I aged out as a ward of the state with early emancipation at 17 years old. It wasn’t an easy time for me. I felt abandoned, like no one loved me or cared enough to protect me and help me succeed. So, personally, my heart goes out to the kids who are part of the system. It is hard to understand that this time won’t last forever when you are living through it.

The truth is countless people gave to me, from a kind word to a space in their home. Those experiences shaped me into who I am today. With my husband of 31 years, I’ve established a home where our children know the door is always open. I am an exception to the statistics. I had nothing when I was released at age 17. I worked retail to survive. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s while working full time at Riley Children’s Foundation that I put myself through Indiana Wesleyan’s evening adult program to earn a business management degree. Much of what I’ve been able to accomplish for my own family has been a result of hard work and becoming a part of this big Heritage family nearly nine years ago. I am grateful that they bet on me!

My work on the Social Impact Task Force and research into children in need of services recently led me to complete training with the Morgan County CASA program. I now serve as a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children in my county.

Submitted by Patti Gault, Strategic Communications Director, Heritage Construction + Materials; Vice Chair, Social Impact Task Force, The Heritage Group

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The Heritage Family Represents at World of Asphalt and AGG1

Boasting 400 exhibitors and 120 educational sessions for team development, World of Asphalt and AGG1 brought members of the Heritage family together in Nashville, Tennessee, in late March. Part trade show, part industry conference, the events’ 20th anniversary broke records with more than 11,400 asphalt paving and aggregates professionals in attendance. Representatives from across the Heritage family of companies showed up both to learn and to lead. 

Increasing Diversity

Marquisha (right) with Ashly Rieman of Milestone Contractors.

One of the 100+ professional development sessions was a roundtable on Increasing Diversity hosted by Women of Asphalt and featuring Marquisha Williams, safety representative at Milestone Contractors. Marquisha, who is also on the board of Women of Asphalt, participated in the roundtable discussion focusing on diversity and inclusion among workforces in the asphalt industry. “Speaking on the panel was an amazing experience. It’s something I’ll look back on for years to come,” Marquisha said. “Being able to see yourself represented is important in this industry. Companies have to be intentional when hiring to become more diverse and inclusive organizations.” 

Heritage Construction + Materials (HC+M) has deep ties to Women of Asphalt. In 2021, The Heritage Group contributed eight of the 84 total participants in Women of Asphalt’s inaugural Mentorship Program. This year, 16 of the 118 Mentorship Program participants – both mentors and mentees – are members of the Heritage family. “I’m sure I can speak for most of The Heritage Group ladies when I say that THG’s participation reassures us that we belong, and that this company is always striving to keep a culture that fosters diversity on many different levels,” Marquisha commented. 

Among the attendees was Patti Gault, strategic communications director for HC+M. “Marquisha really made me proud in the Women of Asphalt roundtable. She had great insight and there was a good group of us cheering her on,” Patti said. 

This year, HC+M was one of the organization’s diamond sponsors. Heritage attendees of Women in Asphalt programming, including Marquisha, recognized the impact of the organization in their industries: “It is amazing that The Heritage Group has seen the need to support women, but to see that we are going all in and becoming Diamond partners with Women of Asphalt makes me speechless.” 

Growing a Great Workforce Culture

From left: Paige Guedri Gill, Melissa Brooks, Patti Gault and Bronwyn Weaver, panelists.

Across the street at AGG1, HC+M’s Strategic Communications Director Patti Gault spoke on a panel of aggregates industry professionals called Growing a Great Workforce Culture. In front of a standing room-only crowd, Patti presented on THG’s culture, “which paved the way for me to talk about some of the special employee and community initiatives at the Heritage Group,” she described.  

Among these initiatives were Lean Six Sigma training, Kids Science Camp, the ONE Heritage Fund and THG’s internship program. “Also, starting up the Social Impact Task Force garnered a lot of interest, and I was grateful to be able to share some of the terrific work we are doing to support our local communities,” Patti added.   


“It was wonderful to spend time with my Heritage family away from our normal daily work in a great city. I was impressed to see the level of representation from across Heritage at the workshops.” — Patti Gault 


The impact of AGG1 didn’t stop in Nashville; Patti returned to Indianapolis ready to share what she learned with her HC+M team. One major takeaway was the opportunity for community contribution that exists in the construction industry. “Building the roads that connect society makes construction workers a part of something bigger,” Patti noted. “They help families get to work and school — and ultimately makes their community a better place to live.” 

An Accelerator Alumnus at World of Asphalt 

BroadLoop representatives demonstrate cone flipping at their booth.

Last year, BroadLoop Founder and CEO Nick McRae spent his fall at The Center as part of The Heritage Group Accelerator powered by Techstars. BroadLoop, a software platform that streamlines construction fleet management, has carried on the energy and attitude of creativity from their time in the Accelerator. BroadLoop’s booth featured cone flipping, a game typically played during downtime with construction cones, for visitors: “contractors don’t have time to flip cones while waiting on trucks any longer,” Nick said, “because BroadLoop gives them control over their virtual fleet.” 

World of Asphalt was BroadLoop’s first trade show, “so we learned a lot,” Nick said. “We were actually placed on a waitlist when we initially applied last year, but a THG connection from the Accelerator was able to send an email on our behalf and we were assigned a booth very quickly.” 

Much like the Accelerator, the trade show floor offers a chance for innovators in related industries to connect. Along with new interest in their product, the BroadLoop team reconnected with acquaintances from THG. “We had met a few of the AMI and J-Band team already as part of the programming run by HG Ventures,” Nick commented. “It was very exciting to see the effectiveness of that program continuing long after it had formally concluded.” 

World of Asphalt and AGG1 will return to Music City in 2024 for another gathering of industry professionals. Whatever the industry – and the world – have in store, the Heritage family will be there to take part. 

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Celebrating the Women of The Heritage Group

Thousands of women are responsible for making The Heritage Group and our world work. We asked women across the Heritage family of companies about their career inspirations, their work in our industries and the future of women in the field. Their answers revealed so many reasons to celebrate the women of the Heritage family, only a few of which are below. 

They power the work that connects our world.

“I started in the construction world at a young age working with my dad and have worked with other companies in the industry for five years. My mother (Deb Schriber) has been working with Milestone for 17 years now, so you could say she set an example for me. Working in the construction industry comes naturally.”

Julie Schriber, Superintendent, Milestone Contractors

Maria Kraemer Gutierrez, pictured with her children Adrian, 7, and Amanda, 4

“I actually came to Tri-State Asphalt quite by accident. My husband was working at the plant as a manager, and they were in need of workers, and I came in to help him. I’ve been here for 19 years.

Lorraine Heffner, Lab Technician, Tri-State Asphalt. Before coming to The Heritage Group, Lorraine previously served in the military as a heavy equipment mechanic.

“In Venezuela, where I was born, oil was a big industry, but not a lot of women pursued that career. I wanted to do something meaningful and that I was really passionate about. The oil field was unstable, and I liked the specialty chemical manufacturing industry, so I wanted to explore career in that area. Ten years later, and now I get to make chemicals that are used for things like hand sanitizer during the pandemic, so you can see the impact more tangibly.

Maria Kraemer Gutierrez, Plant Manager, Monument Chemical. Maria taught Spanish and English in Thailand before becoming a Plant Manager at Monument Chemical.


They’re innovators.

Andrea Moberly

“When I was in high school, no one ever talked about women’s scientific discoveries. Now our culture is becoming more aware of the importance of telling those stories, and as those are told, more girls are thinking, ‘this is a choice I could make for me, too’. If someone needs to do the work, why not me? If there’s work to be done, why not me?”

Andrea Moberly, Senior Analytical Research Chemist, Heritage Research Group. Andrea’s interest in science was sparked during a childhood trip to Yellowstone National Park.

I feel lucky, because working in Portage, it’s an almost completely female lab. We do have a lot of guys out in the plant. When you go to a conference or any kind of schooling, everyone has been very supportive, very welcoming and willing to listen.”

Penny Jacobson, Technical Coordinator, Asphalt Technologies Group. Penny has been working at Asphalt Technologies for nearly 16 years.

When I presented a business opportunity in Turkey to Heritage leadership, they said yes. The Heritage Group believed in the businessbut more so, they believed in me. 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.”

Sibel Selcuk, Vice President of Global Research & Development and Strategy, Monument Chemical. Sibel started out at Heritage Research Group before establishing a startup in Turkey and then transitioning to Monument.


They’re pioneers in male-dominated fields.  

Maly White (right) and Rebecca Rivers Duncan (left)

“I hear about the lack of women in the industry, but my experience hasn’t been the same.  At my building, I’m surrounded by women in leadership roles who are skilled, intelligent—just the whole package.  They have seats at the table where decisions are made, and it is just one more reason I am glad to be working here.”

Maly White, Executive Assistant at Heritage Construction + Materials. Maly is an army veteran and serves her community on the board of Indianapolis’s PATH School.

I learn even more by being part of Women of Asphalt, which is a nationwide initiative. It’s great to partner with women who have worked in the asphalt industry for 20 years; they might live in Los Angeles, but I have that resource. It’s good to be involved in things like that, especially when you’re new to the industry. That’s advice that I would give to any woman coming in: Get involved, ask questions, take advantage of the resources.”

Rebecca Rivers Duncan, Business Administrator, Asphalt Materials, Inc. Rebecca is mother to Jada, a future Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; the two have three rescue dogs between them.

“Coming from a farm community and having strong women in my family, I didn’t have preconceived notions of women can’t do this or that.  I think that has helped me the most.  I love our workers, the dirt, and the work itself.  I think the field employees realized I was there for them and cared and I haven’t had any major issues in the whole 25 years.”

Amy Bingham, Senior Safety Representative, Milestone Construction


They support and encourage the next generation of women in the material sciences.  

“When I graduated over a decade ago, women made up only 10% of my civil engineering class. Since then, I have seen nothing but significant growth in the number of females applying for and pursuing careers in this industry.”

Rachel Lockhart, Plant Manager, US Aggregates. Rachel followed in the footsteps of her father, who owned a construction company and masonry business.

Kristin Sweeney

“The future is more than bright for women in the environmental industry, especially within Heritage. We have women in executive and leadership positions across the company. We have women in every type of position, from Drum Handlers to Senior Vice Presidents. If you look at any role within our company, you’ll see women working hard and excelling at what they do.”

Raven Shyrock, Customer Experience Manager, Heritage Environmental Services. Over the past two years, Raven has leveraged her role to help clients meet COVID-related requirements for health and safety.

“When you do what you love and are passionate about it, it’ll show. Jump in! Find a mentor (a man or a woman) who will help you through the challenging times and celebrate your accomplishments with you.  I think girls should also know that the construction industry of today is not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Technology has come so far that we have a variety of roles to suit everyone!”

Kristin Sweeney, Director of Operations, US Aggregates. Kristin got hooked on the mining industry during a summer internship in 2004.

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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.

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For HC+M, Breast Cancer Awareness is Year-Round

For the month of October, social media followers of Milestone Construction, US Aggregates and Asphalt Materials, Inc., will notice a difference. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, these members of the Heritage family of companies have gone pink for breast cancer. For the individuals behind the campaign, though, awareness of breast cancer’s impact isn’t confined to just one month.

Heritage Construction + Materials (HC+M) has been raising awareness about breast cancer for years. The aim of the annual campaign is to promote increased screening and early detection—the best ways to mitigate a cancer diagnosis. According to Cancer.net, an estimated 333,490 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, including members of the Heritage family. Three Heritage employees who have been affected by breast cancer share their stories:

Katrina LiMandri, Director of Marketing at Asphalt Materials, Inc.

Kat with her mom Maria, aunt Frances Burgos and daughters Emryn and Auri

“My mom is my best friend, the eldest of her sisters, and a pillar that holds up our big Italian family. When the Big C diagnosis came for my mom a few years back, it was really scary for all of us. She was told by a doctor that she wasn’t old enough to get tested, but she knew in her gut that there was something wrong. She advocated for herself and got a second opinion. Luckily, we were able to catch it before it became much worse. After the cancer was removed, we’ve been blessed so far that it hasn’t returned.

“Breast cancer has affected my family pretty heavily. Not only is my mom a survivor, but just last year my aunt found out she had breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy. Because it runs in my family now, they all make sure to go get a mammogram every year and advocate for their health.


“I’m proud to be inspired and influenced by the strong women in my family. I encourage others to get tested regularly. You don’t need to have symptoms, or have it run in your family to get breast cancer.”


Kierstin Janik, Chief Talent Officer at HC+M

Janik (left) with her mom during their travels to Mount Lemmon in Tuscon, AZ

“My mom has been fighting breast cancer for 15-16 months now.  It’s a tough battle physically and mentally – COVID concerns, social restrictions and challenges within the medical field related to COVID have made it even more difficult!

“My mom was diagnosed with cancer in June 2020 after she felt a lump bothering her while doing some work in the yard. She has completed three different chemo treatments (A, C and T chemo rounds) plus surgery and radiation since then. Unfortunately, at what was to be her last appointment in March, she was delivered some gut punching news – she needed more treatments. She’s completed 8 of 14 treatment rounds since then and is hoping to be not only done with treatments by early next year, but to be cancer free!”


“[My mom is] a tough lady and has kept a positive attitude through it all. She’s been my role model my entire life and I am amazed at how she’s handled this challenging situation.”


Kathy Rice, Compliance Specialist, HC+M

“When I found out I had cancer, the oncologist said that five years before my diagnosis, I would have had a 50/50 chance. With the progress the cure made in a matter of a few years, the survival rate was 85%. I fought like mad with a positive attitude and faith in God. The large tumor disappeared during the first 12 weeks of chemo, which was kind of a miracle, so prayers work. I still had smaller tumors and needed the surgery anyway.

Kathy Rice

“I still remember the oncologist surgeon really skipping down the hall after giving me the good news after surgery: nothing spread and I wasn’t in remission, but cancer free. God blessed the doctor with positive news as it has to be hard to deal with cancer patients who may not have the outcome I had. I was an unusual case, they said. I’m now four years cancer free. God still wants me to do more work on Earth.  I figure one reason is to bug and hug my grandsons!

“I’m thankful that Heritage is scheduling the St. Vincent mobile unit for mammograms. It’s convenient for employees—in and out quick. That’s how I found out in 2016. I would have gone anyway at the St. Vincent Breast Center but to have the mobile unit at the Wellness Center just made it so easy. Employees should take advantage when the opportunity is there!”


“I wear the US Aggregates breast cancer t-shirt to fight for the cure given to me. The cure for breast cancer has made leaps and bounds over the years.”


 

What can you do to lower your risk factors?

  • Limit your alcohol use. Try to have fewer than 3-4 drinks each week.
  • Exercise moderately for 3-4 hours each week. Moderate exercise is anything that gets your heart rate up to 50-60% higher than its resting rate.
  • Avoid hormone replacement therapy after menopause.
  • If you are pregnant and able, choose to breastfeed.
  • Regular mammograms help doctors find breast cancer early—sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

Employees participating in a Heritage health insurance plan can access regular free mammograms, which are key to early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Keep an eye on your inbox for messages from our HR Benefits team on upcoming wellness programs.

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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 material 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 material 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 material 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.