HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Fueling Discovery

In the race for innovation, there’s no greater proving grounds than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Throughout its storied history, the Speedway embodies the spirit of discovery.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of motorsports worldwide. The Speedway’s marquee event, the Indianapolis 500, has inspired countless imitations and adaptations, solidifying its status as the pinnacle of motorsport. The Indianapolis 500, often referred to as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” is the crown jewel of racing in America. This annual event draws hundreds of thousands of fans to witness the world’s best drivers compete in a grueling 500-mile race. The event’s significance transcends sports, becoming a cultural phenomenon that symbolizes the spirit of competition, perseverance and ingenuity.

The Heritage Group and our operating companies have stood alongside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for decades. Together, we push boundaries, harnessing emerging science to propel progress forward. But, how exactly, did this long-standing partnership come about?

Our first company, Crystal Flash, sponsored a car for the 1937 running of the Indianapolis 500. Beginning in the late 1950s, Asphalt Materials, Inc. (AMI), a member of Heritage Construction + Materials (HC+M), began supplying bituminous materials for use in track repairs. This partnership continued and expanded in 1988 when Heritage Research Group (HRG), the research and development team of The Heritage Group, designed specific asphalt mixes for the Speedway’s oval.

Since then, the partnership between the two institutions has only strengthened. As time wore on and the track’s racing surface was subjected to the ever-changing climate of Indiana, it was time to update the asphalt, which at the time was only lasting around seven years. When it came to repaving the surface, IMS called upon Heritage to oversee and execute the sensitive work.

It wasn’t until 2013 that the full strength and capabilities of the various operating companies of The Heritage Group were put on display. On October 1, 2013, IndyCar and IMS officials announced a new event, a grand prix race on a road course, to be held in May 2014. However, an entirely new track needed to be designed and built in a very short amount of time. The road course project united Heritage Research Group, Milestone Contractors, US Aggregates and Asphalt Materials, Inc. to complete the work prior to the upcoming winter season which would halt any on-track construction. The work was completed to specifications on time, and the inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix was held May 10, 2014, just seven months following the event’s announcement.

Enduring Spirit of Innovation

The pursuit of speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has also been a catalyst for scientific discovery. Engineers and mechanics continuously strive to enhance the performance and safety of race cars, often pioneering technologies that eventually find their way into commercial vehicles. From rearview mirrors to disc brakes, from seatbelts to increased fuel efficiency, all of these innovations were first tested at the Speedway before making their way to your personal automobile.

The innovations born on the track often have far-reaching implications beyond racing, contributing to advancements in automotive technology, transportation systems and even environmental sustainability. For example, developments in hybrid and electric vehicle technology, spurred in part by the push for greater fuel efficiency in racing, have the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry and reduce carbon emissions.

Beyond its role as a hub for innovation and scientific discovery, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a special place in the hearts of racing enthusiasts worldwide. The speedway’s illustrious history is dotted with legendary drivers, unforgettable races and dramatic moments that have captivated audiences for generations. From the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 to the present day, the speedway has been a dramatic stage for both motorsports and human achievement.

“Find those partners that understand your mission and that are willing to work alongside you to make it better,” noted Doug Boles, President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “That’s one of the things we love so much about Heritage. We could not have the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 without our partners at Heritage.”

The enduring partnership between the Speedway and The Heritage Group drives a relentless pursuit of excellence, shaping the next generation of safety, speed and success — both on and off the track.

 

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Envita Solutions: Leading By Example

Since 2001, Envita Solutions has been a devoted partner to customers, helping them tackle their most complex waste and sustainability challenges. Since its inception, Envita Solutions has continued to evolve with the changing sustainability landscape. From circularity strategies, increased recycling, waste minimization, landfill diversion, equipment optimization, cost savings – and everything in between – Envita Solutions understands the dynamic decision points its customers are weighing.

Envita Solutions exists to protect human health and the environment. As the premier provider of total waste management services in North America, they walk the talk in working towards their own ambitious sustainability goals.

Carbon Neutrality

To further its environmental impact goals and continue leading by example, Envita Solutions has achieved carbon neutrality across its North American operations. In addition to structural changes to minimize GHG release, Envita Solutions also procured carbon credits from N2O abatement projects to offset harder-to-decarbonize business operations. Envita Solutions’ carbon credit strategy was guided by ClimeCo, a trusted carbon credit market leader with the highest standards of environmental commodity products. Over the next decade, Envita Solutions will work to reduce GHG emissions so each subsequent year they rely less and less on the offset market to support climate resilience.

Environmental Impact Reporting

Creating a sustainability plan requires extensive decision-making with a focus on long-term impact. Envita relies on both The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and EcoVadis to help identify benefits and risks as well as improve performance and accountability on their sustainability journey. CDP supports Envita Solutions in managing its environmental impact through reporting and risk management with programs focusing on climate change, water, supply chains, forests, and cities. EcoVadis is a globally recognized assessment platform that Envita Solutions utilizes for reporting. It allows Envita Solutions to see the full picture of how their sustainability decisions influence four main categories: environmental impact, labor, procurement practices, and human rights standards/ethics.

Zero-Waste-to-Landfill

Envita Solutions has proudly helped more than 300 of its customers’ facilities achieve zero-waste-to-landfill certification. This means that they send zero discards to landfills or high-temperature destruction, instead diverting it to more sustainable means. Of course, all of Envita Solutions’ facilities in both the United States and Mexico are also proudly zero-waste-to-landfill certified.

Envita Solutions is the industry leader in delivering transformative sustainability across North America and they’re not slowing down any time soon!

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Cirba Solutions Launches “SustainABILITY 10,000”

Battery recycling and management company focuses its community engagement programming on one mission – to create eco-living action in communities across North America

Charlotte, N.C. (April 18, 2024) – Cirba Solutions, the premier battery recycling and management company, today announced a considerable investment in sustainable battery recycling education. A new initiative titled, “SustainABILITY 10,000,” looks to turn communities into educated eco-living experts by Cirba Solutions and its team who will commit to 10,000 hours of community engagement, sustainable practices and education in communities across North America.

The movement to live a more eco-friendly life continues to stagnate due to a lack of education about the practical steps necessary to have a positive impact on the environment and increase our sustainability footprint. A recent study by Nielsen IQ revealed that 78 percent of consumers say a sustainable lifestyle is important to them and 30 percent are more likely to purchase products with sustainable credentials. Cirba Solutions’ new initiative focuses on increasing consumer education and social awareness of battery recycling opportunities in local communities, both proven to change behavior.

“In battery recycling, we experience the gap between desire and education every day. Despite most consumers wanting to recycle batteries, many simply don’t know how or where to do it. The result is that the majority end up in the trash or landfill and are not being properly recovered following battery end-of-life,” said David Klanecky, CEO and President of Cirba Solutions. “But we also know battery recycling doesn’t stand alone. Many eco-friendly choices we as consumers would like to make don’t happen simply because of a lack of education about how to turn that desire into action. By committing 10,000 hours of education into our communities and neighborhoods, our mission is to move that needle and empower people to take action and live a more sustainable life.”

The nationwide effort will first center in the regions where Cirba Solutions operates. These include North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Michigan, Ohio and British Columbia, Canada.

Specifically, the effort will focus on three key areas:

  • Community Education: Working in partnership with local communities, Cirba Solutions will both integrate into existing education plans, while creating new ones to help spread the word about how and where individuals can recycle batteries.
  • Community Enhancement: Leveraging the power of neighborhood connection, Cirba Solutions will provide physical and visual opportunities for programs such as battery collection events, local education opportunities and support of STEM activities.
  • Digital Advocacy: Cirba Solutions will build online resources and tools accessible to every community to share resources and activities to develop green and sustainable literacy.

SustainABILITY 10,000 will officially kick-off the weekend leading up to Earth Week 2024, when Cirba Solutions will participate in a collection event with the Detroit Zoo, as part of the GreenFest 2024 E-Recycling Event. On Saturday, April 20th and Sunday, April 21st, Cirba Solutions will help the community divert waste from local landfills by collecting batteries.

“This initiative takes what we do at Cirba Solutions every day and raises the bar, so we’re focused on delivering actionable value into communities,” said Karen Gay, Community Engagement Manager at Cirba Solutions. “Our team is passionate about making a difference and we can’t wait to continue the great work we’ve done alongside community leaders as well as create new partnerships with organizations who share our mission.”

SustainABILITY 10,000 both focuses and builds upon Cirba Solutions’ continuing commitment to its give-back culture. In 2023 alone, the end-to-end battery recycling company worked with regional organizations and various local communities to discuss safety, planning and training. Cirba Solutions also worked with and discussed sustainability practices with U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Cirba Solutions’ battery recycling facility expansion in Lancaster, Ohio, and engaged with more than a half dozen local community groups to support causes ranging from holiday toy donations to reducing hunger in regional communities.

To learn more about Cirba Solutions’ community engagement efforts, visit: www.cirbasolutions.com/our-community

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Progress Over Perfection

Amy Schumacher is CEO of The Heritage Group, a U.S. based sustainability investor. Amy tells Nomura Greentech that she is applying generations of business experience to grow vital new industries such as battery recycling.

This interview first appeared in the Winter 2023 edition of Nomura Greentech, and is reposted here for promotional purposes.

“We have been in the environmental sector for over 50 years.”

 

What first sparked your interest in sustainability?

At The Heritage Group we are a fourth generation, privately held, family-owned business. We think in terms of decades and ultimately generations, that’s how we are still around.

We have been in the environmental sector for over 50 years. My father founded that part of our organization, and I grew up in that world.

My spark is tied to how we define sustainability as people, planet and communities, as well as our common vision, centered on leaving the world better than we found it.

From early teenage summer jobs to my current CEO responsibilities, sustainability has always been a part of me.

How concerned are you about climate change and the pace at which the world is collectively trying to solve this problem?

We are all citizens of the world on this particular issue and I think everyone needs to explore what they can do to address climate change.

Both big initiatives and small steps can create a significant impact. For example, we’ve taken the small, but important step of eliminating single-use plastic bottles at our headquarters, and other Heritage locations are beginning to do the same. On a larger scale, we’re part of an initiative that’s introducing sustainable solutions into the construction of airport runways.

Tackling climate change is fraught with challenges from inconsistencies in language and measurement, to lack of global alignment and keeping up with rapidly evolving regulation.

I am concerned that the challenge may seem too daunting or the solutions so complex that people either get discouraged or spend too much time debating rather than taking meaningful steps forward.

At The Heritage Group, at least on our sustainability journey, we have adopted the mantra of ‘progress over perfection’ – in other words, even if our action is somewhat imperfect, we’ve ultimately made more progress than if we hadn’t begun at all.

As CEO you oversee The Heritage Group’s portfolio of more than 50 businesses and 7,000 employees. What’s your ethos when it comes to sustainability, capital allocation and investment or acquisitions?

The way we consider sustainability in making investment decisions has changed dramatically. It was always in the ether, but it’s now front and center as a factor that we actively discuss as it relates to strategic investments.

Our portfolio is very diverse. We have some companies that operate directly in the environmental services space and others in various adjacencies around it.

In addition to our core business areas, we have grown our investment thesis into new platforms that ultimately service our sustainability mission. In our HG Ventures portfolio, a hard-tech focused venture strategy, I can’t think of an investment we have made that doesn’t support our sustainability goals.

The DNA of The Heritage Group is in materials science. You have a focus on chemicals, construction materials and environmental services. How are you looking to bring sustainability into these businesses and which one is the hardest to decarbonize?

I’m really proud to be in these sectors and I’m committed to supporting their transition.

When I think about some of our legacy core businesses, we have embraced circularity for a very long time. Take reclaimed asphalt pavement, or RAP, one of the most recycled materials in the U.S., or recovering zinc from one of the largest solid hazardous waste streams in the country.

To decarbonize these businesses, we have long leveraged our Heritage Research Group, which uses science and technology to do more with less and do things differently.

This means harnessing our expertise in specialty chemicals and sustainable fuels to drive development or taking a waste stream from one industry to create an environmentally friendly solution in another or even optimizing processes, not only to reduce waste, but also to decrease our environmental footprint.

Quite often the decarbonization challenge is difficult and instead of leaning in, many investors exit and transfer the problem to someone else. We see that all the time and instead, we are using our expertise in science to drive sustainable solutions.

Which areas are you focused on for new investment and which of your past investments have yielded the biggest sustainability impact?

From an investment perspective, we are always looking at aligning our capabilities with the next emerging macro trend or tailwind – that’s when we are at our best.

Our investment in Cirba Solutions, the largest lithium-ion battery recycler in North America, is a good example of a recent success and where we plan on maintaining our focus in the near term.

Battery recycling is set to benefit from the rapid expansion in the global EV market and the U.S. will continue to develop at a fast pace as there’s a shortage of mineral inputs. Batteries are also associated with geopolitical and societal challenges considering where in the world some of these raw materials are located so recycling can help mitigate these issues.

Our strategy for Cirba Solutions was to look at that emerging opportunity and match it with the expertise within our portfolio companies to accelerate its development.

When I think about our past investments and current capabilities, what gave us the courage to commit to building and ultimately growing Cirba, was our understanding of recycling. We have capabilities in collection, and expertise in the science and technology of reusing materials.

With our track record of successfully handling challenging materials, we see an opportunity to be a leader within that industry. It’s a perfect example of where so many of The Heritage Group’s best capabilities really came together to do something impactful.

To what extent do you think the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is fast tracking decarbonization solutions and is it helping any of your portfolio companies?

I think it’s too early to understand the full impact of the IRA. It is definitely raising awareness, driving capital investment and accelerating the pace of business growth within the green space.

A number of our businesses, including Cirba Solutions, were recipients of federal Department of Energy grants related to their innovative technology. We were fortunate to have Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at our ribbon cutting to celebrate not only the IRA, but what was possible for one of our emerging core businesses.

Envita Solutions is another example of a key Heritage operating business that is helping our customers achieve their goals through the use of data and science to optimize waste management.

While the IRA is not directly benefiting Envita, it is impacting the customers we serve by accelerating their net zero goals and timelines which in turn creates more opportunities.

The IRA is also having a positive effect on our communities. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of the best museums in the country, and The Heritage Group helped it apply for a Department of Energy sustainability grant through the IRA. We have a strong passion and commitment towards improving our communities.

Which future technologies are you most excited about?

Every year, around this time, I get really excited about welcoming our hard-tech founders into The Heritage Group Accelerator.

The program brings roughly ten very early stage companies to The Heritage Group for 13 weeks to help launch their sustainability businesses in areas such as green materials, infrastructure, environmental solutions and industrial systems.

It’s inspiring to see so many budding entrepreneurs applying their curiosity, talents and creativity to this space and the number of applicants grows exponentially each year.

Specific technologies capturing my attention include: sustainable aviation fuel, low carbon materials, water technology, and, of course, battery recycling.

There are also brand new technologies that we have never envisioned, which provide a glimpse into the future.

In 2030, The Heritage Group celebrates its centenary. What would you like to achieve by then and what legacy would you like to leave?

As a long term family-owned business, we’re building for generations, leaving people, planet and communities better than when we found them.

I’m fortunate to build upon what came before me at Heritage and to plant the seeds for what will come after, and that’s both a privilege and a responsibility.

Aspirationally, I would like to leave The Heritage Group in a place where it will be successful for the next 100 years, not just the next decade.

That means a focus on top talent. We aim to have a collection of world class businesses where smart, hardworking individuals can make a real difference. We are thinking carefully about the people side of our company because people are our greatest asset and hopefully a part of my legacy.

Who’s your sustainable hero and why?

It would be easy to say my grandfather and father; they had the foresight and courage to introduce sustainability concepts into The Heritage Group at a time when no one was talking about it and really laid the foundations for the businesses that we run today.

But honestly, my sustainable hero is my great-uncle Frank who was the steward of our sustainability journey in the early days, when the environmental industry was so much like the Wild West that we felt uncomfortable operating there.

All leaders have defining moments in their history where they can choose diverging paths and great-uncle Frank’s came soon after we had bought a fledgling environmental business. It was hindered by a series of challenges and leadership at the time was considering getting out and moving on.

But great-uncle Frank said “the world needs people like us in this business so we’re going to lean in, not lean out, and do the right thing, always.”

That really became the fabric and DNA of the business. We never stepped into this because of ESG regulatory pressures, financial returns or to jump on the next big macro trend. My forefathers did it because it was the right thing to do and that has served us at the heart of who we are today.

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Reaching New Heights At Indianapolis Airport

Milestone sets a standard for sustainable practices in construction, leaving an enduring mark on the construction industry.

Milestone Contractors achieved a remarkable feat last spring by undertaking the colossal task of removing, recycling and reconstructing the southern runway at Indianapolis International Airport. This ambitious project, aimed at creating a runway to serve the airport’s needs for the next 40-to-50 years, was executed with dedicated precision, resulting in a runway that spans an impressive 150 feet in width, comprising four 37.5-foot-wide pulls, each a substantial 22 inches thick.

“Most concrete paving contractors in the United States are not capable of going 37.5 feet wide,” noted Steve Friess, Vice President of Concrete Operations for Milestone Contractors. “When you get to that wide and 22 inches deep, it takes a special crew that understands the nuances of stacking concrete that deep.”

Beyond the physical challenges of a project on this scale, airport runway construction is heavily regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Safety concerns are paramount, and contractors can expect to have their work closely inspected every step of the way.

“[With] airport projects, the FAA has a lot of requirements, and they are very stringent about a lot of things because they need to be,” said Steve. “So, if you’re gonna pave at an airport, you have to be ready to do it a hundred percent because the requirements are the same across all the United States.”

Within the nearly 700-page blueprint that guided construction were additional specifications on the FAA’s sustainability requirements. Far from presenting a hurdle, Milestone Contractors embraced the requirements as an opportunity to be stewards of the planet for the next generation, employing environmentally conscious practices such as using four million gallons of recycled water for dust control and on-site concrete plant operations.

“We recycled 135,000 tons of concrete and 65,000 tons of asphalt that came off the shoulders of the runway and then went back,” said Steve.

A highlight of Milestone’s commitment to sustainable practices was the innovative use of carbon encapsulation injection into the wet cement. This forward-thinking approach aimed to encapsulate carbon and eliminate its presence from the atmosphere, highlighting the company’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly construction methods.

That commitment paid off. Consider the airport’s prestigious accolades: Indianapolis International Airport, already recognized as the best North American airport in its class for eleven consecutive years, added another feather to its cap (stripe to its pilot uniform?) by earning the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Envision Platinum Award. Milestone Contractors played a pivotal role in achieving this recognition, showcasing a commitment to sustainable infrastructure practices that goes beyond the ordinary.

The reconstruction of runway 5L23 at the Indianapolis airport stands as a testament to Milestone’s unyielding dedication to sustainable construction. This project not only signifies the successful completion of a major undertaking but also represents a defining chapter for the entire Milestone team. The company’s reputation for delivering quality work on time and within budget is well-established, but this project allowed their values, expertise and commitment to sustainability to shine brightly.

“Milestone is a very unique company. Whether it’s concrete, asphalt, general construction pipe or whatever, it’s all done as a team,” boasted Steve. “We were able to answer the call because we have all the parts of the team to put together.”

About Milestone Contractors, L.P.
Milestone Contractors is a privately held, family-owned business headquartered in Indianapolis. Milestone Contractors is a fully integrated heavy construction company specializing in highway, bridge, asphalt and concrete paving and site development. Over its 30-year history, Milestone has built a reputation for prioritizing safety, quality, people and innovation. Milestone Contractors is a part of The Heritage Group’s family of companies. Learn more at www.milestonelp.com.

 

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

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.”

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Growth, Good Business and Giving Back

As a Director of Operations at Heritage Interactive Services, Shaun Miller oversees business in the US and Canada. When he started out, he had no idea how far a career in sustainability would take him. We sat down with Shaun to talk about the evolution of his career over the last nine years.

 

Let’s get started with the beginning of your journey. How did you first hear about Heritage?

 

I went to Indiana State, and when I graduated, I had taken over as general manager of a fine dining restaurant in Terre Haute, Indiana—but I lived on the west side of Indy. That’s a heck of a commute—it’s an hour and a half each way, but 23 years old and GM of a nice restaurant was a great place to start. At the time, my brother-in-law David Cripe worked for Heritage Environmental Services (HES). He said, “I know you’re not sure what you want to do, but if you want to be closer to home, Heritage is always hiring.” I took the chance and started as a temporary employee at HES in fixation (the management and disposal of contaminated waste by immobilizing hazardous contaminants). Fast forward several months later, I became group leader, and I was still trying to figure out where I wanted to be. Every time I had an opportunity to leave this organization, they gave me a reason to stay.

 

After my promotion to group leader, I helped deploy the HES call center, worked inside sales, and in 2014 I was again at a crossroads. I had gained all this experience, and I wanted a career, so I had to decide, where do I want to go? I interviewed for a program manager position at Heritage Interactive and got the job—and as much as I enjoyed the hazardous waste side, I loved broadening my horizons and being able to move into non-hazardous waste, and trash and recyclables, and byproducts and all kinds of commodities.

 

Then I went from program manager to senior program manager to operations manager and here I am as a director today. Now, I’m at the forefront of world-class sustainability services for our customers, which is awesome. For instance, we’ve aided companies in diverting their byproduct waste, contributing to zero landfill status—and more recently, we worked with ClimeCo to help March Madness go carbon neutral.

 

I can’t wait to see where I’ll be three years from now, but it’ll be at Heritage, you know? All these synchronicities brought so much opportunity, and I worked to make the most of it. And I’m happy to be here!

 

Could you go over a bit about how Heritage has invested in you?

 

How much time you got? (laughs) I’m a big Peyton Manning fan, and he always talks about not always being the smartest in the room, not always being the toughest in the room, but outworking everybody in the room. And that’s always been my mantra—if I’m dedicated to something, I’m going to find every way I can to add value to the organization. I’ve done that over the years, and this company has been good about recognizing that. Whether that’s about collaboration opportunities, promotions or bonuses, growth as an individual, I could go on and on.

 

The biggest impact on me was back in 2018, when I was promoted from Operations Manager to Director, it happened to line directly up with the Connect, Collaborate, Innovate (CCI) initiative. It’s a training program where THG invests in the future of potential leaders from across the family of companies. It created relationships and bridges across the organization. You were able to meet people whom you wouldn’t have otherwise known—and I used that network just last week to introduce a colleague to a resource at another Heritage company! I was able to be a bridge for others, which is a great thing, and I know that there are others willing to be a bridge for me as well.

Shaun (right) with Jeff Laborsky of Heritage Environmental Services

 

Is there a point that stands out to you when you realized that this was a career as opposed to just a job?

 

When I moved from HES to HIS, I could see the runway of what we could do, both when I was there initially and what we could grow into. I was able to work as I saw fit and add value to the organization—and the fact that Heritage enables me to work in such a way—it all just kind of clicked. And that’s continued to evolve over time, because the term sustainability evolves every day, and it’s an exciting time to be in this industry. We’re talking about the course of a few years, but I would say sometime around 2015, 2016, I was like “okay—this is where I want to be.”

 

What does it mean to you to be part of a family business?

 

A lot of companies will say, “we’re a big family,” but everything I’ve seen here proves that leadership truly lives out that mantra. I met my boss now, Peter Lux, when I was going through CCI and getting exposed to THG; again, this company provided me that just because I worked for it and was vocal about where I wanted to go within The Heritage Group. Getting to know Peter and work with him, and now directly working for him, it was the same mentality. Whether I’m sitting in my office, with our team, or I’m having that exposure to a higher level, the feeling is always the same.

We’re given access to capital and resources and things that a very large organization typically has access to, but there’s always that personal feel to the interactions with our leadership—in how they empower us to manage and to make our own decisions. Not all companies will afford you that autonomy, and I think that has a lot to do with this organization having that family ownership and mentality.

Shaun with his family

Do you feel like that also affects the way you interact with customers or clients?

 

I think so. I think this is an empathy-minded organization, and I try to lead with that. When you have that servant leadership attitude, doors open, it shows your customers that you care, it affords you business retention and trust. The culture here definitely affects how I do business. Not only that, but this company gives me the opportunity to investigate new things.

 

My work style over time is taking every opportunity I see to invest in others. That’s been engrained in me in large part due to this organization and the way they’ve treated me. I try to pay that forward to my employees, my colleagues, my leadership, my customers, my suppliers, and it bleeds over into your personal life, too. When you see that, and you see the benefit of it, you lead with that. It’s about touching as many lives as possible and impacting others in a positive way. There’s always the chance that it could come back around—you never know. It builds relationships and trust, and it’s good business, too.

Where does your passion for sustainability come from?

 

I fell into sustainability. It just kind of happened, and before I knew it, I was in deep. I realized how much I liked it, and it’s such a broad term today. But to me, sustainability is not just about waste. It’s about time, equipment, people and labor. It’s about opportunity and attitude. Sustainability, to me, is so much of elongating the things in life that we will inevitably need indefinitely in so many different ways. That’s why I like where we’re at now. A couple years ago, it was all about supporting zero waste to landfill, and then simply zero waste—now it’s bringing in carbon neutrality. I have a call coming up with one of our customers to support zero water discharge, and my colleague is working on industrial hygiene for other customers and compressed air efficiencies and water balancing for another. It’s such a spiral of potential in the term sustainability. And it’s not all about hugging trees—it goes so much more beyond that. It’s a discipline.

Shaun with his team

What’s your advice to someone who is at the same place that you were when you graduated college, looking for an opportunity?

One of the scariest things in the world is to be vulnerable, but my best advice to my younger self and to anyone in that position is to stay humble and vulnerable. It’s a nice way of saying, “ask stupid questions.” And there aren’t really any out there, which I know is a cliché, but you can’t shrink into yourself. You have to find ways to get out of your comfort zone. I’m not a great public speaker—I mean I can speak to my customers, to my team, but even in a Teams call, if there’s 80 people, or in a huge venue, I get a little squirrely. So what I’ve done is found situations to intentionally put myself out there, and know that I was going to look silly, but convincing yourself that it’s okay, is probably the hardest part. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know it, and at some point, you won’t be as good at your job for not knowing. Read, research, learn. I hope that when I’m at retirement age, I’m still looking for ways to learn, and it’s only going to benefit you. It’s never a waste of time.

 

Right now, what is exciting to you in this moment of your career?

 

Over the last five years, we doubled in size. We invested heavily in people, and in training—KPIs, too. Another interesting aspect between the public and private sector is that we have the ability to integrate, measure, grade and improve, so we focused on our metrics so that we could maintain scalable, rapid growth. We also invested in our people so that we have the right folks in the right positions, and it set us up for where we are today. Our fiscal year just ended—another record year, and our growth rate is ridiculous, and we’re prepared for it now.

 

We’ve been working within sustainability since 2000, and the evolution of sustainability over the last 20+ years has been phenomenal, and volatile in another way, and opportunistic. Now we’re here, and I’m watching The Heritage Group through Techstars, Heritage Sustainability Investments, all these different elements and the ability to access all those resources— it’s all growing. It’s an exciting time to be here because I’m not exactly sure where we’re going to go, but I know it’s going to be great.

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Innovate to Accelerate

How the Heritage Research Group fuels innovation for Techstars Accelerator startups.

The Center, Electrified

Those who tuned in to virtual Demo Day, the culmination of the 2020 Heritage Group Accelerator Powered by TechStars, witnessed the final product of the development, strategy and mentoring that went into the 13-week accelerator. Each of the ten founding teams participating—some of whom hailed from as far as the Netherlands—created a five-minute recorded pitch showcasing their startup’s vision, progress and plans for the future. If you just watched the video, you might have missed the months of creative collaboration that laid the foundation for the pitches.

 

Despite the impact of COVID-19, the accelerator produced an “electric” Demo Day, according to Senior Director of HG Ventures Ginger Rothrock. “The environment in the accelerator when it’s full of founders is incredibly active and upbeat,” added Chemistry Research Manager Meghan McLeod of the 13-week process preceding Demo Day. “There’s so much energy. There’s so much excitement.”

Participating founders quickly discover a hidden gem of The Heritage Group (THG) Accelerator: the Heritage Research Group (HRG). When introducing the accelerator in a May 2021 Crowdcast, Nanci Churchill of Techstars touched on this aspect of the program: “The lab that’s on site at The Heritage Group is a world-class facility that allows startup companies to run experiments in cooperation with the HRG lab team, which is phenomenal.”

 

Staffed by a team of experienced chemists and researchers, THG’s in-house research and development laboratory solves some of the biggest business and customer problems among the Heritage family of companies. Their work is behind several innovations that THG harnesses to build a safer, more enriching and sustainable world.

A Dream Team

The process begins with McLeod, whose non-accelerator months are spent overseeing analytical chemistry research for HRG. McLeod acts as a liaison between HRG and the startups involved in the accelerator. “[When] all the companies come in, I have one-on-one meetings with them, and I identify product characterization, development, and pilot opportunities that we can work on during the program,” she described. After this initial meeting, McLeod assesses the tools at her disposal, including those on-premise at HRG facilities (all of which are accessible to accelerator startups). After identifying an expert in the area in question, McLeod assembles a team of researchers to address the startup’s unique issue.

 

The Work Begins

In the case of Mobile Fluid Recovery (MFR), a startup dedicated to the cleaning and reuse of industrial waste streams, the collaboration with HRG took about a month from start to finish. CEO Justin Edmondson described the root of the challenge in his Demo Day pitch as “unlock[ing] the liquids from the solids in the waste stream.”

 

“The waste stream he had was too high in sulfur for resale,” said McLeod, describing high-iron metal fines with resale potential. “Justin already had that in mind, and when we met, that was something he identified as a particular problem the research group could help with.”

 

To resell the metal fines, MFR had to satisfy requirements for sulfur content by removing that element from the waste stream. HRG’s chemists rose to the challenge, taking a sample of metal fines and performing elemental analysis. “We helped him both quantify and type the sulfur, and then come up with an approach to remove it [from the waste stream],” McLeod said. The process evolved to a point where Edmonson’s team could perform it in their own facilities, opening MFR’s services to valuable new customers and, potentially, a new market.

 

“Industrial waste stream management is about a $60 billion industry. We recycle only about 30% of all waste streams today,” said Rothrock, “but the EPA believes about 75% of the waste streams are recyclable. MFR is unlocking the value of waste streams that are not currently recycled… and now, thanks to our research group, [Edmondson] has a solution that adds value to the company and his customer base.”

 

This waste stream innovation also underscores an essential tenet of THG’s mission: sustainability. By reusing the de-sulfured metal fines rather than disposing of them, MFR contributes to the circular economy by eliminating waste and making the most of available resources.

From the Ground Up

Some Accelerator projects have a much longer scope. Sunthetics, a startup that aims to make the development of new molecules more sustainable, harnessed HRG’s resources and brainpower to develop their pilot product: an electron reactor that enables organic synthesis.

 

“Sunthetics was developing new hardware, and we were the first pilot users of the product. So as you can imagine, there was a lot of trial and error in the lab and collaboration with the founders to get to a functional prototype,” said Rothrock.

 

The reactor, which uses electricity to produce a small-scale chemical, is paired with machine learning software, which predicts the most efficient conditions for reactions. Configuring the reactions was just the beginning.

 

“We had a lot more optimization and work that had to go into understanding the system,” said McLeod, who brought together a large team of researchers to work with Sunthetics. “Myself and one other chemist were working with the hardware to perform the reactions, and then we had another part of the team doing the chemical analysis and method development.”

 

The outcome of the accelerator for Sunthetics was an effective, repeatable framework for testing reactions. “We can run the Sunthetics system and demonstrate improvements in efficiency over multiple tests,” said McLeod. “That was a significant outcome for the Sunthetics team.”

 

A Vision Realized

For accelerator startups, the benefits of working with HRG extend far beyond the doors of The Center. For participating startup Pretred, the accelerator served as the perfect place to brainstorm. Working to mitigate the environmental impact of tire waste, founder Eric Davis envisioned road barriers made of recycled tires. “There’s got to be something we can make out of it,” he said in a Techstars Crowdcast of the tire and plastic waste occupying a local river. “It’s high volume and potentially high value.”

 

“We have members of the HRG team who have previously worked in related industries — tire, rubber, resins, all the different components that he was using — so he found a knowledgeable resource in simply having access to those people, brainstorming ideas, [and] talking about his process,” said McLeod.

 

One such team member is Research Engineer Dennis Justice. “The wide range of product and process assignments we participate in sets us apart from other research groups,” he said. “My knowledge, matured in multiple manufacturing environments, aided Pretred directly in building prototypes and rapid production improvements.”

Dennis Justice with the Pretred team and prototype

Justice aided in identifying materials and processes needed for Davis’s idea to become a reality: six-foot-long, one-ton construction barriers made of over 95% recycled material. With his help on the first manufacturing run, Pretred went from proof of concept to a full-scale product in just two weeks. “Over a short period of time, with limited resources, the Pretred sustainable construction product has gone from an idea on paper to a one-ton reality. The company continues to build on these manufacturing learnings and uses the first set of manufactured products to capture customer interest,” said Rothrock.

 

A year out from the accelerator, Pretred is looking forward to commercial scale manufacturing and product launch as well as addressing alternative waste streams. A seed-round investment of $3 million led by HG Ventures proves Pretred’s potential within the hard tech industry.

 

Justin Edmonds, founder and CEO of MFR, will be deepening his relationship with Heritage Interactive Services. “He’s made strong connections with the business unit and is actively working with them to help solve our customer’s waste problems,” Rothrock said.

 

Currently, the founders of Sunthetics are moving forward with the reaction method pioneered in collaboration with HRG. “That’s actually one of the biggest takeaways: now they have an established method for data analysis to use with targeted customers,” said McLeod.

 

After the Accelerator

Startups leave the Heritage Group Accelerator with 13 weeks’ worth of collaboration, creativity and innovation that translate into an incredible amount of business value. In return, the impact they leave behind is a major motivator for the Heritage family. “I just love that the broader Heritage Group gets exposed to entrepreneurs and their thinking, their energy,” said Rothrock. “It’s electric. It’s awesome.”

 

As the 2021 cohort of startups travels to Indianapolis for their own turn at the accelerator, Rothrock anticipates seeing The Center once again abuzz with the same lively dynamic. McLeod agrees: “There were ten different companies that were in completely different markets, and I got to learn about all of them and be involved in that process,” she said. “Our ability to catapult both their technical and business development is incredibly valuable.”

 

To learn more about the accelerator, visit hgventures.com/hgaccelerator/.

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Winning the Long Game

Chris Patchon of Heritage Environmental Services has felt satisfied and motivated in his job for the past 26 years. Here are eight things that have helped make Chris so successful.

When you meet Chris Patchon, who manages Heritage Environmental Services’ (HES) western Indianapolis waste treatment plant and landfill, his positive energy and passion quickly inspire admiration. What keeps Chris going? What makes him so successful? We recently followed Chris around the plant to find out, and learned eight things that keep Chris happy, motivated and driven to tackle whatever comes next. These could be good reasons for you to start a career at a Heritage Group company, too!

 

1. He was spotted quickly.

“I’m a local kid,” said Chris, who grew up just down the street from where he works today. “I walked by the plant going to football practice.” Years later, at age 21, Chris joined the plant as a material handler in drum operations, working the night shift. He frequently signed on for overtime, occasionally working double shifts.

It didn’t take long for leaders to spot Chris’s dedication. Two years later, the manager of a Heritage plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, asked Chris to relocate from Indy to Charlotte and run the drum operation there. “I was an hourly employee at the time,” Chris said. “I asked, ‘Why me?’ He said, ‘Why not you?’” Chris’s wife, Jennifer, had just given birth to their son, Drew, and didn’t want to leave town. “I said ‘no’ at first,” Chris admitted. But when Jim Green, the president of the company at the time, called and asked him to fly to Charlotte for a visit, Chris took him up on the offer. Not long after, Chris and his young family made the move south. “It turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made in my career,” said Chris, who eventually took over all plant operations in Charlotte.

 

2. He’s surrounded by mentors who inspire him.

If you ask Chris what he loves most about his job, the first thing he’ll say is: the people. He admires Jeff Laborsky, Chief Executive Officer of HES and leader of Heritage Research Group. “Jeff’s a people person, and he’s committed to our company’s mission to protect human health and the environment,” Chris said. “That commitment at the highest levels trickles down — it’s genuine.”

Winde Hamrick, Executive Vice President of HES, once managed the plant Chris runs now. She mentored Chris when he returned from Charlotte in 1999. Even though there were no manager positions open, Chris and Winde set a goal for his future that included professional development opportunities. It took almost four years for the operations manager spot to open up, and when it did, Chris stepped in and kept growing. Winde continues to help guide Chris’s career today. “I’m blessed to have her as a mentor,” he said. “We have a wonderful relationship.”

 

3. The Heritage Group invests in his success.

When Chris started at HES, a busy work schedule and frequent promotions got in the way of wrapping up his higher education goals. “A business degree was the plan,” said Chris, who in the same breath notes he’s proud to help run a successful business.

“I like to say I have a master’s degree from Heritage University,” Chris said with a smile. “Heritage offers so many resources — especially mentors and coaches — you continually learn on the job.”

On top of that, Chris has taken part in leadership training, including weeklong programs at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. “It was an awesome experience!” he said of undergoing the trainings. “Heritage invests in people. It’s something we do well here.”


On tackling challenges like a linebacker:

Chris, who has an athlete’s energy and positive outlook, played football in high school and college. The former linebacker’s drive to protect his people — combined with his quick thinking at every turn — make him a good fit for the demanding work of running a 24/7, all-seasons operation.

Like any talented athlete, Chris also likes to win — and he looks for similar qualities in potential employees. “I sense the desire to win,” he said. “High-potential employees rise above failure and always look for a solution.”

Chris has also learned that each employee has their own spark. “There’s an art to how you approach and motivate people,” he said. “You’ve got to take the time to get to know them.”


4. His voice counts.

Working at a private company with a family atmosphere leads to teamwork and collaboration, which in turn sparks new ideas. “We’re a very creative company,” Chris said. “So many ideas have grown into new businesses. It has been cool to watch it happen.”

Chris appreciates that leaders frequently ask for his opinion. “They don’t have to,” Chris noted. “But the fact that they engage with operations at all levels means a lot to me.”

That engagement and collaboration presents opportunities for everyone. “It’s not unusual for employees to talk to the president of the company,” Chris said. “You’re never ‘just a number’ here. You’re part of a team. And it’s a winning team.”

 

5. Family values matter.

A devoted family man, Chris has been married to his wife, Jennifer, for 26 years — as long as his tenure at the company. He’s the father of a son, Drew, and daughter, Hanna, both college grads pursuing careers in the pharmaceutical and medical fields.

Chris said his parents, Brad and Debbie, kindled his focus on values like loyalty and dedication. Brad, Chris’s stepdad, who worked for the City of Carmel’s wastewater division, modeled hard work. “I watched him get up in the wee hours of the morning to go to his job. And he raised two kids who weren’t his own. He didn’t have to do that. He set the foundation of always doing the right thing and putting in the effort.”

The Heritage Group’s core values of honesty, integrity, and fairness resonate with Chris. “Those values align with who I am as a person,” he said.

He’s also happy about how his career at HES has supported his family. “Working at Heritage has given me a wonderful life. It allowed me to put my kids through college; to take my family on vacation. I didn’t get to do those things as a child,” Chris added. “I’m forever grateful.”

Chris with his family

The Patchon family. From left: son Drew, wife Jennifer, Chris, and daughter Hanna

6. Loyalty means something.

When Chris is looking for new employees, he seeks “loyal, dedicated people who are aligned with what we do,” he said. “We have jobs here, and we also have careers.”

Chris’s loyalty and commitment to HES and his team have helped make him successful in his own career. That’s because his leaders look out for him and his future. “At Heritage, loyalty and dedication go both ways,” he said.

 

7. People pay it forward.

When Chris walks through his plant with a group of visitors, he greets each worker by name, quickly pointing out their tenure with the company and their personal story. Bart Bicknell, a chemical treatment supervisor and 20-year HES employee, served as a tank commander in Desert Storm. John Boyne, an operator in chemical treatment who has worked at Heritage for 27 years, is a “great employee,” in Chris’s book. Chris recently recommended Eric Chris, the plant’s operations manager, for a promotion, which Eric earned. He began his new job running the Roachdale landfill early this year. “It’s a pay-it-forward mentality,” said Chris, who’s proud of the fact that many Heritage employees and leaders launched their careers at the plant where he works now.


On caring about his people:

Since he became plant manager, Chris has instilled new policies that do more to give employees a voice. On Day 1, after they’ve met the safety manager and walked the facility, new employees meet with every member of the management team. Chris’s personal open-door policy shows his genuine investment in each employee. “I don’t care how long someone’s been here or who they are. Everyone’s welcome to come to my office for a conversation about anything,” he said. “I want people to feel okay about talking to leadership. I tell people who stop by, ‘Hey, I’m no different than you are.’ That’s how we build a relationship.”


8. There’s room to grow.

At Heritage Group companies, the freedom to learn and grow is real. “The opportunities to do great things are there,” Chris said. The different companies within The Heritage Group give employees freedom to move around; “if you have the drive and ambition to do great things, you can do it,” Chris emphasized. “I started at the bottom and worked my way up. It takes time and effort, but if you work hard, you can get where you want to be.”

Could a career at Heritage be in your future? Click here to see our open positions and apply online.