Purposeful Growth is a core value we hold dear at Ergon. We are dedicated to providing resources and opportunities for employees to reach their full professional potential because we understand employee success and organizational success go hand in hand.(You can read more about our organization-wide commitment to Purposeful Growth value here.)
“People are Ergon,” said Patrick Nation, Ergon A&E’s Senior VP – Sales & Marketing. “They make the place what it is today. We have to encourage our employees and provide opportunities for them to grow, not only technically but personally, with leadership development pathways. These pathways will lead to a consistent culture and continued success of this great company we work for.”
Ergon has long embraced the value of Purposeful Growth from within the organization as a way to nurture future leaders of the company. Our COO Kris Patrick began his career with Ergon as a young Co-Op at Ergon Refining Inc. And many who started out with entry-level positions as Ergon’s asphalt operations took shape in the early ’80s have gone on to hold various management positions within the company, even the President of Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions (Ergon A&E), Baxter Burns.
Purposeful Growth Series
Throughout the month of July, we will be highlighting ways we exemplify the Ergon core value of Purposeful Growth.
In today’s post, we introduce you to three individuals from Ergon’s Asphalt & Emulsions unit who have taken advantage of our career advancement opportunities and demonstrated high competencies in key areas along their paths from entry level to management positions.
Charles Taylor was named Ergon A&E Regional Technical Operations Manager (RTOM) for facilities in the North Mid-Continent Region in January 2022. In this role, Taylor serves as the liaison between the Ergon A&E facilities and Paragon Technical Services. He assists with technical issues, helps implement new product formulations and ensures current product formulations and specifications are updated to reflect the most accurate information.
Taylor attended Mississippi State University, where he earned a civil engineering degree. One of the classes required to complete his program piqued his interest. “We had to take a pavement class in order to graduate,” he said. “I became very interested in the subject, and the professor and I began to talk a lot; we just had a connection.” That professor was Dr. Isaac Howard, Director of the Richard A. Rula School of Civil & Environmental Engineering and friend of Ergon. Over the past several years, Dr. Howard has worked with Ergon to help educate, mentor and even employ the next generation of leaders in the asphalt industry. In fact, it was Dr. Howard who introduced Taylor to the Ergon family.
Taylor joined Ergon in 2017 as an Emulsion Chemist at Paragon Technical Services, the research and development arm of Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions. He noted one thing he appreciates about his former managers at Paragon is they encourage growth among employees from day one. “That was one thing we did talk about when I first started — that they want to see employees grow and move up in the company in order to be an even greater resource.” When the opportunity presented itself for Taylor to apply for the RTOM position, he took full advantage with the blessing and backing from his then managers, Shelly Cowley and Scott Watson, Senior VP – Technical Operations. Taylor has fully embraced the opportunity to challenge himself, grow professionally and build new intercompany relationships.
Sean Robbins was promoted to Facility Manager for EA&E’s Lawton, Oklahoma, facility in November 2021, after seven-and-a-half years serving as an Operator at EA&E’s Saginaw, Texas, facility. Robbins and his wife, Stacia, had begun to expand their family right around the time he started at Saginaw, which motivated him to seek opportunities to grow within the company — an aspiration he shared with his Manager, Nathan Swearingen.
When a Facility Manager position came available within the EA&E network, there were many factors that led to Robbins being selected for the job. “Sean came to us from a different background, not related to asphalt, but that did not stop him from putting his best foot forward on the job,” said Swearingen. “He is always hungry to learn and always willing to help. I wish him good luck in his new and well-deserved position.”
So far, Robbins has settled into his position nicely, attributing this to the training he received in Saginaw from Swearingen and Assistant Manager Jordan Haith, as well as the group of people he currently oversees who, in his own words, make his job easier because of their drive.
“Until joining Ergon, I didn’t really have a specific job I wanted to do,” said Robbins. “I just wanted to do what my father did — he provided for us.”
John Hallford was promoted to Facility Manager of EA&E’s Mount Pleasant, Texas, facility in 2019. Prior to accepting this position, he worked at Ergon’s Halstead, Kansas, facility (formerly SEM Materials). He began working at Halstead in 2007 and quickly became known for his drive and persistence. “I probably called Tim Weatherman, the Facility Manager at that time, once a week and bugged him until he gave me a chance,” he said.
Drive and persistence have continued to be determining factors as Hallford has climbed the ladder to leadership. He had been in regular talks with his manager about wanting to move to a higher position in the company, which was met with on-site training and development to put him on the path to advancement. Since 2007, he was promoted from Operator to Production Leader and eventually amassed skills needed to qualify for the Facility Manager position that had come available in Mount Pleasant.
Like Sean Robbins, Hallford also did not have a background working with asphalt and emulsions prior to joining the Halstead Team. However, that didn’t stop him from doing what he needed to do to make an honest living, which has earned him much respect within Ergon. “I think it is important to understand that our leaders come from all walks of life,” said Greg Hilton, Regional Manager – North Texas. “If someone has the fortitude to put in the hard work and dedication, anything is possible.”
Greg noted that Hallford sets a positive example in the workplace and does a good job of encouraging and teaching his crew — all good qualities Ergon looks for in future leaders.
“As soon as they know you have an aspiration to advance within the company, Ergon tries to provide opportunities to develop or improve your skills to prepare you for what you want to do,” said Hallford. “The only thing that limits you here is the drive that you have.”