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Employee Spotlight: Uncovering Opportunity Through Innovation and Creative Problem Solving

Posted: 5/30/23


Service Type(s): #Careers and Culture #Research and Development


At Heritage Environmental Services, our research and development (R&D) capabilities via the Heritage Research Group (HRG) set us apart. This partnership allows us to develop and apply chemical and engineered solutions to large customer waste challenges. Through R&D, we have the capability to provide both on- and off-site solutions that help our customers operate more sustainably and efficiently. We’re able to tackle challenges large and small, and offer solutions that continue to be game changers in the industry – while positioning us for growth.

Here to tell that story, we’re excited to spotlight Bill Garrison, Director of Strategic Solutions with the Heritage Growth & Opportunities team at Heritage Environmental Services (HES). Read on as Bill shares how the Heritage family works together to support our customers through problem solving, partnership, and creative thinking.

As part of his role, Bill coordinates and communicates among different stakeholder groups: HES sales, their customers, and the HRG teams. Together, they explore opportunities to develop solutions that reduce customer waste, costs, and risk. Solutions might be in the form of byproduct recovery and reuse or on-site management.

“I communicate project-specific technical and business information among each stakeholder to figure out what type of approaches we can take to support client needs,” Bill said. “Ideally, we like to identify content that has some value that maybe we can reclaim and take back to a customer. Or, we look to find an alternative use through a different industrial customer or industry, or even find material that has feedstock value to one of The Heritage Group’s sister companies.”

With strong operational knowledge and compliance experience, Bill leverages his skill set each day to uncover new ways for HES to deliver value to our customers. “First, we explore if there is a technical solution that we can develop,” he said. “If so, then we look to see if there is a business case and we just keep building. Then you assess if is there is an even a greater market solution that can be launched from there.”

At the core of this process, one important skill takes center stage: problem solving. Bill said, “Problem solving means having a full awareness of what the customer challenges are – not just the material management. Our multidisciplinary HRG and HES team of chemists, engineers, and business development professionals, collaboratively evaluate how solutions for customer problems. This includes their potential impact on the client’s compliance, sustainability goals, and operational performance – such as cost, savings, or other operational impacts,” he said. “We take a team effort to look at these situations and scenarios to formulate practical solutions.”

A critical part of the problem-solving process, Bill explained, is relationship building. “The fact is, we’re willing to roll up our sleeves and work with our customer. Just the empathy of trying to understand what their challenge is – that’s a different proposition than what our peers in the waste disposal industry have offered historically,” he said.

Through problem solving, our HES and HRG teams learn more about each customer and their challenges. Often those challenges are applicable to the entire industry, leading to even greater value-adding opportunities for the customer through focus groups or consortiums. This level of partnership adds a deeper purpose to Bill’s work. “I love my job and I love helping people,” he said. “It’s all about helping our customers by working together.”

To Bill, partnership means having a deep connection with the other party – having a relationship built on empathy, and a genuine interest in each other’s well-being. “It’s of vested interest for me and my partners to come to an agreement and work toward a shared solution. I’m making sure that I’m addressing their goals, whether it’s a compliance, material management, or waste avoidance need, or helping them achieve sustainability goals and key performance indicators for their organization.”

Partnership such as this has enabled Bill to pursue innovative solutions for his customers – an area that has defined his work and lead to career longevity at HES. Bill first joined the Heritage family in 1993 but accepted a different role outside the organization several years later when he relocated to the West coast. Upon returning to the Midwest in 2015, Bill knew where he wanted to continue his career. “I reached out to Heritage – it was the only call that I made,” he said. “I’m what we used to call a comeback kid, back in the 90’s.”

For Bill, the choice to return to HES was a simple one, due to an important reason. “The way the Heritage culture embraces compliance and innovation is why I came back. While I may have left, I’ve always been with Heritage in spirit – and that’s true and genuine.”

As he progresses in career with HES, Bill anticipates that the innovative thinking of the Heritage family will continue to pay off. He shared that embracing the opportunity to learn is never a wasted effort, even if the result doesn’t come to fruition as expected. Each opportunity creates new building blocks of information and understanding that can support the development of future intellectual property for HES.

“One of the challenges for me is that things don’t always work out like you planned. You might have a solution that’s technically feasible, but it’s cost prohibitive,” he said. “That’s just part of the process. But even then, you’re building knowledge so that if you experience something similar the next time, you can leverage those insights and apply them. Building that information and being able to leverage and apply it down the road – that’s a great thing.”

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