When you meet Chris Patchon, who manages Heritage Environmental Services’ (HES) Indianapolis waste treatment facility and RCRA Subtitle-C hazardous waste landfill in Roachdale, 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! heritage-enviro.com/employment
- 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.
- 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.”
- The Heritage Group invests in his success.
“I am very proud to help run successful business units in my role as Plant and Landfill Manager.
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.” Chris has also earned his Indiana Certified Wastewater Class D license while working for Heritage.
- His voice counts.
Working at a private company with a family-type 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.”