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Driving the Future of Octane

At the Octane National Symposium, held in Indianapolis in late-April 2024, Monument Chemical brought together key players together for once-of-a-lifetime experience.

From April 22 to 24, over one hundred industry experts and technicians flew in from all over the country to swap stories and gain insight into the future of octane fuels. Monument’s Indianapolis Octane National Symposium created an intersection for proven experience and fresh perspectives to give attendees a valuable look into emerging industry trends — and how we’re taking full advantage. And true to Monument fashion, we took the conference experience to another level, hosting it at the Heritage Center with a truly one-of-a-kind tour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“As a leader in the Octane space, it was our goal to bring together key players in our industry to share best practices on the nuances of Octane measurement,” Indresh Mathur, Director of Innovation and Customer Solutions at Monument, explained. “In addition, we shared our expanded capabilities and investments in the renewable fuels business, particularly in the racing industry, as well as how we leverage decades of history and experience through Haltermann Solutions to support our customers in all the areas they need. This Symposium is just one of many ways we’re raising the bar.”

After a night of networking and introductions, the first day of the three-day event included technical sessions and panel discussions, featuring business leaders from Sunoco, Marathon, ExxonMobil, Argonne Laboratory, and more, as well as several members of the Octane measurement and racing community.

“Our speakers were thoughtfully chosen to facilitate the most effective transfer of knowledge across the industry,” Sarves Peri, VP, Business Leader Monument Renewables and Fuels, shared. “There are a lot of highly experienced leaders entering retirement, so we wanted to give their expertise a platform to educate the young people in our field who are shaping the landscape and designing the future of Octane and Cetane measurement.”

“Following the conference, participants were eager to share positive feedback with the Monument team,” Indresh added.

“Monument did a great job coordinating the event and keeping all the attendees engaged with the presentations, while creating a relaxed, open atmosphere where we could all share insights and stories about our experiences in testing fuels,” Zachary Santner, Manager, Product Engineering and Business Optimization at Sunoco Performance Products, shared. “Building my network of resources for octane testing gave me a lot of confidence in continuing to find parts and service for our old equipment — which is extremely valuable for Sunoco and me personally in navigating any issues my team might encounter related to the knock engines.”

That afternoon, a bus took all attendees to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a special access tour led by the head of track operations. Working closely with Milestone, everyone was able not only to get exclusive access to the track itself, but also to see and learn all about a real pace car first-hand.

“I feel like Monument went above and beyond any expectation that anyone had,” Stacy Perry, Refining Analytical & Development’s Quality Programs Compliance Specialist, Marathon. “The tour of the raceway was a once in a lifetime experience for me. But my favorite part of the experience was meeting individuals who have been in the business for many years. Hearing their experience and life lessons is an invaluable practice that provides benefits to everyone. I learned more in the two days of this symposium than I have learned in the ten years I have been in the refining industry.”

Day two featured a highly technical agenda in collaboration with the Joint Regional Octane Group Meeting. Sessions were tailored specifically to these members, while all other attendees had the opportunity to tour The Heritage Lab, as employees shared the history of our research, as well as our current and emerging capabilities in renewable fuels.

“The Center was an amazing venue,” Stacy added. “I got a chance to walk around the woodland trails and fell in love with the creative world they have created!”

From one-of-a-kind tours to invaluable networking and knowledge sharing, Monument is extremely proud of the success of our first Octane Symposium. We’re grateful for our collaboration with CFR Engines Inc., the regional groups, our sponsors, and all the participants in coming together to share valuable perspectives and insights.

“Our role as an industry leader goes far beyond buying and selling Octane and Cetane reference fuels,” Sarves explained. “It’s our responsibility to understand the big picture, how the industry environment is changing, how that impacts our customers’ needs, and how we respond with solutions. And we then share that information with our partners and even our competitors. That’s what being a leader is all about, and we’re very excited about what the future has in store.”

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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Betting On The Future

Embracing Our Heritage While Betting on Our Future

Who We Are

Over the past 90 years, we’ve seen exponential growth, built on the shoulders of the Fehsenfeld family and our extended Heritage family of employees. Four generations of family leadership and our lasting relationships with employees, customers and communities form a foundation that keeps us strong. We started out delivering home heating oil during the Great Depression, and now operate more than 50 companies, employing more than 7,000 hardworking people who want to make a difference. This is our story.

Our History

During the Great Depression, John E. Fehsenfeld embarked on a journey that would shape generations to come. His venture, Crystal Flash, delivered heating oil to families, a bet that would evolve into a collection of filling stations that spanned across Indiana and Michigan. That entrepreneurial spirit along with hard work and dedication was passed down to his sons – Frank, Fred and Mac – who played pivotal roles in the company’s evolution.

Returning from World War II, Fred Fehsenfeld, Sr. recognized a need to drive the company forward. His groundbreaking idea revolutionized the hauling of cut-back asphalt, laying the groundwork for the acquisition of Asphalt Materials in 1955. This same spirit of seeking out opportunities continued into the 1970s when a customer’s request for assistance with hazardous waste prompted an investment in environmental research. We took a risk on environmental services long before “sustainability” became a popular term, simply because it was the right thing to do.

The decades that followed witnessed our expansion into new frontiers. Seizing an opportunity in the early 2000s, we ventured into specialty chemicals with the acquisition of a struggling plant in Houston, cementing our position as a leader in diverse industries.

Our Bet on the Future

The core of our success lies a steadfast commitment to innovation. This dedication is demonstrated through investments in research and development, led by Heritage Research Group and HG Ventures, both of whom foster a culture of forward-thinking and inventive solutions.

With over 90 years of strategic bets, The Heritage Group remains anchored by our people, culture and values. Each milestone, each success, is a testament to the enduring legacy forged by generations of hard work and perseverance. Looking ahead, we are poised to continue a legacy of innovation and growth. By investing in our people and nurturing collaboration, we are laying the groundwork for a brighter, more sustainable future.

 

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Heritage Grant Supports Ukrainian Scholars at Purdue University

Just over a year ago, war erupted in Ukraine. Following a long buildup of military equipment and forces, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. In the days and months that followed, Russia’s bombings targeted essential infrastructure and systems, including hospitals, schools and neighborhoods, leaving destruction and devastation at every level of Ukrainian life. In news reports and through footage posted to social media, many were witness to the millions of Ukrainians being killed, displaced or forced to flee their country.

As a response to the invasion, Purdue University launched the Ukrainian Scholars Initiative, a program to host individuals whose lives were upended by the war. The goal of the initiative is to offer support to scholars who held faculty positions or were conducting research at Ukrainian universities the opportunity to safely continue their academic pursuits at Purdue.

“Our aim is to make at least one small contribution to help the Ukrainian people in this moment of peril,” Purdue’s then-President Mitch Daniels said of the program’s launch in March 2022. “Our hope is that we can offer refuge to these scholars and a chance to continue pursuing their work, and then see them return to a safe and free Ukraine. But while they are with us, I don’t doubt that they will personify and perhaps share with our students the precious value of freedom and the constant need to defend it from its enemies.”

Having experienced the terror and sadness of the war unfold, leadership within The Heritage Group (THG) gathered with representatives from Purdue to help fund the initiative. “For 90 years, the Heritage Group has been committed to building a safer, more enriching and sustainable world by harnessing the power of family,” said Sara Morris, Director of Strategic Initiatives. “We are fortunate to be able to support this initiative to enrich the lives of the individual Ukrainian scholars, their families, all who come into contact with them at Purdue, and for our own team members.”

Purdue received hundreds of inquiries to the program, ultimately welcoming nine scholars. Michael Brzezinski, Dean of International Programs at Purdue, notes that the Ukrainian Scholars Initiative is one of the first, largest and most ambitious university-led programs in the United States. According to the university, the visiting scholars participate in several academic pursuits that span many schools of study – from chemistry, library sciences, psychology, linguistics, sociology and neuroscience to political science, management, history, and earth and planetary sciences.

Through the grant, THG has pledged a two-year commitment to the participating Ukrainian scholars that will run through May 2024. “After the arrival of all of our nine scholars, The Heritage Group was eager to learn more about each individual and to know how they could help,” Brzezinski said. “We’re so very pleased and grateful that they are contributing the majority of funding needed to sponsor each scholar. Individuals from Heritage are eager to meet our Ukrainian faculty and students, a sign that they are truly interested in their well-being.”

As of late February 2023, the total number of Ukrainian casualties has surpassed 8,100 according to the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. It is estimated that over 8 million citizens have been displaced within Ukraine and another 8 million have fled the country. While the war continues, so does The Heritage Group’s commitment to Purdue’s visiting scholars. “The ultimate hope is for the war in Ukraine to end and for these scholars to be able to return home, but we are so pleased to support these amazing scholars in the meantime,” said Megan Savage, VP of External Affairs. “Beyond the financial support to cover their basic needs, it is our hope that we will have an opportunity across THG for our teams to engage with the scholars to learn about their experiences, both personally and professionally. There is a long connection between THG and Purdue, and our support is a natural extension of that. We also stand ready should any of the scholars need more wrap-around support, it is our hope we can tap the THG family to help provide that.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last five years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

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Homecoming: Sibel Selcuk Appointed EVP of Heritage Research Group

On January 16, 2023, Sibel Selcuk assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Heritage Research Group (HRG), returning to lead a segment of the same organization where she began her career 16 years ago. A home-grown expert, we are delighted to bring Sibel’s deep technical expertise, knowledge of the industry, and talent for people-first leadership back to Heritage Research Group in this new role. “Sibel exemplifies all of the reasons we bet on people and is a natural choice to lead this dynamic group,” said Amy Schumacher, CEO of The Heritage Group.

After earning her chemistry PhD at Louisiana State University, Sibel began her career at HRG as a research chemist and most recently served as Vice President, Global Research and Development and Strategy at Monument Chemical, an operating company of THG. Sibel found a moment to reflect on her time with Monument and how it feels to move into the next chapter of her career. What follows is a brief, modified Q&A she gave as she transitioned from her role with Monument Chemical.


How does it feel to leave Monument and begin your new job leading HRG?
I’m very excited, but it’s also bittersweet. When I joined Monument, I did not envision ever leaving or that I would someday return to HRG. I came to Monument tasked with building a new global R&D organization to boost our collaborative, cross-functional opportunities and enhance our abilities to fuel Monument’s growth. Two years ago, I was asked to be responsible for defining our strategy and identifying our growth levers, and that work was also very exciting to me. I loved my job and the people I got to work with. Monument and HRG will always feel like family to me, and I have this new opportunity because of how much you taught me, helped me grow as a leader, and prepared me for this next step. I look forward to always being part of the Monument and HRG family — you’re stuck with me!

What excites you most about what lies ahead for you with HRG?
It’s very exciting and an honor to return to lead the group I “grew up in.” It’s also humbling, because HRG is such an important part of The Heritage Group’s history going all the way back to Amy’s grandfather, Fred Fehsenfeld Sr., who interviewed me for my first job and became one of my mentors. He understood, as Fred Fehsenfeld Jr. and Amy do, how important R&D and innovation are to The Heritage Group’s future. I’m also very much looking forward to partnering with fellow members of the Heritage Leadership Council to seek future opportunities for HRG and the operating companies to collaborate.

Is your career heading down a path you envisioned, or has it surprised you?
When I was finishing my PhD almost 20 years ago, I pictured myself working as a chemistry professor in Turkey, not as an industry executive in Indiana. In fact, I had two teaching jobs waiting for me in Turkey when I graduated. But I listened to a professor who was advising me when he suggested I look into industry, and here I am. Turns out, it was very good advice.

Speaking of advice, what career advice do you most often share?
My number-one piece of career advice is to not fear change. Change is challenging and can be difficult to manage, but it keeps us moving forward and open to new opportunities. I’ve made some big changes in my life, beginning with leaving Turkey and my family to come to the United States to continue my education. Leaving HRG to join Monument was another big change, and I remember feeling nervous when I started. But I am very grateful I didn’t let uncertainties stop me then or keep me from taking this next step in my path.


As an organization, The Heritage Group is delighted to welcome Sibel back to our HRG team. HRG has played a unique role in the longevity and success of The Heritage Group, helping us innovate and tackle tough problems. As a versatile and experienced leader, Sibel embodies our Heritage values with a forward-thinking approach to innovation and research. In the months ahead, she’ll be working with colleagues new and old to talk, connect, share ideas and work together to build the future of Heritage Research Group.

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A Quick Reflection On United For Service

Coinciding with The Heritage Group’s 92nd anniversary as a company, our inaugural United for Service event was held on Thursday, November 17, 2022. Volunteers from around the Heritage Group of companies and centered in dozens of locations across the country came together, united in generous spirit, to serve the communities in which we live and work. With a focus on addressing food scarcity and insecurity, and in partnership with the United Way, volunteers hosted food drives, assembled food kits, sorted and packaged food donations, and served residents of community shelters. We are so grateful for this opportunity and are proud to celebrate the 1,211 volunteer hours. 

What is United for Service?

United for Service is your opportunity to volunteer side-by-side with your Heritage family to meet a need in your community — putting food on families’ tables. This experience is all about building a sense of community among our Heritage family while also giving back in a meaningful way to the communities where we live and work.

United for Service originated with the Fehsenfeld family as a way for the whole group to get together and bond while giving back to the community.

Why focus on food insecurity?

The need for food is key to our existence. And the enjoyment of food is a part of our culture. Families bond over dinner, co-workers chat over lunch. But for some, putting food on the table is a struggle.

According to the USDA, more than 38 million people, including 12 million children, in the United States are food insecure. In fact, every community in the United States is home to families who face hunger. But rural communities — where many struggle with limited job opportunities and lack of transportation options to reach grocery stores or food pantries — are especially hard hit by hunger.

 

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Cirba Solutions Gains Governmental Green Light

In October, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $2.8 billion grant to supercharge U.S. battery manufacturing for electric vehicles and the electrical grid. Cirba Solutions, a Heritage family company focused on battery recycling, was one of the 21 companies awarded a portion of that grant. Here, in an interview with The Heritage Group, Shane Thompson, Strategy and Business Development for Cirba Solutions, discusses what a $75,000,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy means for the company and its future.

Tell us more about the grant.
It funds the first set of projects for President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The U.S. government is trying to set up a domestic supply chain for critical materials so the country can expand manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the grid.

What does the grant mean for Cirba Solutions?
It allows us to put more dollars into our new facility in Lancaster, Ohio, which was already in the works when we won the grant. We’re planning to expand the number of minerals we recycle and enhance our ability to upgrade materials before they re-enter the battery supply chain.

How will the grant impact the future?
The fact that our new facility is being built with the full confidence of the Department of Energy will help us introduce our product in the marketplace. In addition to funding, the validation adds visibility and credibility that will make us more attractive to customers, employees and investors.

How did you win the grant?
We responded to the Department of Energy’s request for funding, which included a rigorous application process. Our strategy was to apply for half of the available funding in the battery recycling category. We built on the fact that Cirba Solutions is unique, and we have experience to back up what we do. Laura Evans, our director of environmental, social and governance (ESG), led the application process, which included a robust environmental justice questionnaire and requirements. We welcomed that. We prioritize sustainability and ESG at Cirba Solutions, and the grant was a great opportunity to highlight some of those practices.

Why is the grant important for the country?
We’re creating a circular economy and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and minerals mined in other parts of the world. Producing batteries and components in the U.S. will help advance our country’s goal to build a robust lithium-ion supply chain and meet the demand for electric vehicles.

What capabilities will you add?
Typically, in the process of collecting, disassembling, shredding and upgrading critical materials from lithium-ion batteries, we focus on nickel and cobalt. Our expansion in Ohio will allow us to add lithium and other materials to that list.

Now, when we chop up batteries and separate out materials, some parts of the battery — including lithium, carbon, manganese and aluminum — are sent to a third party for processing. In the future, we’ll run those materials, known in the industry as “black mass,” through a hydrometallurgical process at our plant. We’ll be able to keep the recycling process going and create more materials that can go back into the battery supply chain.

How does this impact The Heritage Group?
Winning the grant is something Cirba Solutions and Heritage employees should share in and feel good about. It shows that a company that got its start with The Heritage Group is betting on the right things, receiving validation at the highest level and growing, which is good for us all.

HAHDhAHSDHAHS

Sara Morris Discusses Family’s Commitment To Service

Since 2014, Fehsenfeld family retreats have hosted a United for Service event that addressed strategic and specific needs in various areas of the country. This year, with the inaugural United for Service event extended to all employees of The Heritage Group family, Sara Morris, Director of Strategic Experiences, discusses her family’s history of service and the goals of this year’s campaign to address food insecurities in the communities in which we live and work. 

 

Talk about the history of United for Service and to a larger extent, the Fehsenfeld Family’s involvement in service and giving back to communities.

In 2014, the Fehsenfeld Family Council decided it was time to refocus our family retreats. Several fourth-generation family members were wanting to become more involved in activities surrounding our gatherings, wanting to find different avenues for people to connect and give back to the community. The family spent a lot of time determining what was most important to us, and together we decided it was learning & giving back together.  We established two models for our family retreats: United for Learning, where we gather to learn about something new, often centered around THG and United for Service, where we collectively take on a community service project. It was always important that all ages could participate, so that even the youngest could create and be part of what the rest of the family was doing. There is something special about grandparents working alongside grandchildren, all coming together to help others.

When that idea was generated, was everyone immediately on board? 

It added a new energy to the family and certainly made people feel connected. This initiative gave everyone a new way of viewing how we as a family and now as a company can help others. We have a lot of people who are passionate about conducting service projects in their own communities. In some instances, we’ve been able to listen and learn what others’ passions are and to find venues to share those passions through service. In 2017, we held our retreat in Utah where we worked on my cousin’s urban farm, The Green Urban Lunchbox. Together we built a green house, repaired fences, prepped planting sites, and collected food to be delivered to the local community. It was great being able to learn about a family member’s passion, and to experience it firsthand.

What are the family’s expectations for this year’s United for Service efforts now that it has been extended to include the Heritage Family of employees?

When Amy and I took this idea to the family council to let them know we were expanding our efforts, everyone was overwhelmed with excitement and support. I could see us [the Fehsenfeld Family] doing this again and working alongside Heritage employees. There are great opportunities in the future.

What do you hope employees get out of this initiative?

I would love for people to make new connections or deepen relationships with employees and colleagues. I would love for people to better understand the importance of this kind of work, because as a family, it is deeply important for us. My hope is that it instills in employees a sense of pride for the organizations they work for and that they’re enthusiastic about addressing food insecurities across the country. Partnering with the United way is an exciting opportunity and I hope we can make an impact in our communities.

What specifically about food insecurity and our united mission to address hunger relief speaks to you? 

I have spent the last several years learning from our employees what’s most important to them and their families to help inform our Heritage Group giving pillars. Food insecurity wasn’t initially one topic we addressed, but it became clear with the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 that we cannot support the mission and goals of our pillars if people cannot eat. Food scarcity during that time became a very eye-opening, important experience. If, during the pandemic kids were not attending school, those kids still needed to find their next meal. Born out of that was our ongoing partnership with Gleaners, which is the largest food pantry here in Indiana. I imagine a lot of folks in Indianapolis are familiar with them, but much like our industries are spread across the state, so too is their presence as they distribute food throughout Indiana.

After the impact is measured and we’ve wrapped the inaugural United for Service campaign, what does success look like and how will we know if we have achieved our goal?

This is the first time we’re doing United for Service with members of the company, and I think it’s always hard to predict the outcomes the first time you do something. I hope we can listen to feedback and learn how we can better position ourselves for a greater impact next year, because this is going to be an annual event for The Heritage Group and our operating companies. Success for me is creating an experience that sheds more light on what the culture of Heritage is to a larger audience while proving to communities and our employees that this is who we are as a company. If we can empower our employees to connect with service initiatives in their communities, then we instill within them a source of pride for the work they do every day.

Of course, we are still planning for the first company-wide campaign, but if you were to name hopes for the future of United for Service, what do you want its legacy to be?

There is something about having this event in November, when our construction materials teams have quieted down a bit and we are entering a season of reflection and celebration with not only the date the company was founded, but Thanksgiving occurring the week after, that it all just feels special. I love the energy surrounding this drive and I love the idea of supporting causes that provide people with food access. I want it to be an event that grows each year. I am hopeful that our employees, regardless of location, can take part in some way.