Employee Stories


Every effort tells a story.

We are proud to have employees throughout our company who encompass everything Ascend is made of.

Inspiring everyday takes a committed team, and we’re fortunate to work with some of the finest in the industry.

Jeannie Kwarsick: If it involves a challenge, this young engineer tackles it

Jeannie Kwarsick: If it involves a challenge, this young engineer tackles it

When it comes to making improvements in the industrial fibers unit at Ascend’s Greenwood plant, Jeannie Kwarsick is the go-to person. Jeannie started as a manufacturing engineer and quickly moved up to a technology process engineer dealing with long-term technology projects and process development. And, through hard work and training, she is also now one of the unit’s A2E experts.

Jeannie has led eight improvement projects, including analyzing data when excessive off-grade material was produced from an industrial unit. Pinpointing several production issues, Jeannie and her A2E team improved the steam control system and replaced broken filaments sensors. In doing so, her team significantly reduced off-grade, saving the company nearly $100,000 in a single year. The project was nominated in 2015 for APEX, and Jeannie is now moving to the next level of A2E leadership – Black Belt.

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Cedric Watson: How his innovation led to $1 million in reduced energy costs

Cedric Watson: How his innovation led to $1 million in reduced energy costs

Until recently, Cedric Watson could be seen every day with an $8 stethoscope hanging from his neck and a yellow legal pad in his hand – his tools to inspect and keep track of more than 5,000 steam traps. Faulty traps releasing steam were losing the operation $500,000 to $800,000 in energy costs. But thanks to a little inspiration, Cedric has revolutionized the trap inspection program, learning how a hand-held computer and a high-tech probe resembling a speed radar gun could standardize and improve steam trap efficiency.

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Glenn Drummond: From teen contract operator to Ascend executive

Glenn Drummond: From teen contract operator to Ascend executive

Family finances forced Glenn Drummond to leave Clemson University after only one semester. At 18 years old, he landed a contract position as a manufacturing operator at the Greenwood plant in 1992. Glenn didn’t know it then, but would soon discover that Ascend is a great place to build a career. The company is not only committed to growing its business, but also committed to growing its people. His decision to stay with the company led to a new career path – highlighted with several promotions over 24 years – that he never imagined.

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Jennifer Harrison: How a chance encounter saved someone's life

Jennifer Harrison:  How a chance encounter saved someone's life

When she learned through a chance encounter that a new employee was facing a mound of unexpected medical costs, she made him aware of the Ascend Cares Foundation, which provides financial assistance for Ascend team members facing hardships. It shows that help can come by chance, and we can all increase others’ chances if we care to look.

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Matt Chapman: Giving back both on and off the job

Matt Chapman: Giving back both on and off the job

Matt Chapman sees helping others as part of everyday life. He regularly performs with his gospel band at churches, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Matt also travels across the country with a church group, helping families recover from the aftermath of natural disasters. And, for 15 years, he knocked down fires as a volunteer firefighter. As part of the Greenwood plant’s community activities committee, two years ago Matt presented the idea to work on a Habitat for Humanity project. Ascend Cares was delighted to fund the project, and after recruiting Greenwood volunteers, Matt led the effort to help a family build a new home. And build a new life. We admire  his passion for helping people. It sparks a passion in us all.

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Mimi Smith: “The customer is No. 1.”

Mimi Smith: “The customer is No. 1.”

She believes in doing things the right way because it’s good for the company and its customers. She routinely goes beyond expectations to ensure that customers are happy with our service and products. She is never satisfied with good enough.

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Lynn Crear: I have a responsibility to serve.

Lynn Crear: I have a responsibility to serve.

Lynn Crear believes we all have a responsibility to make a positive difference around us. When Lynn read that 40% of African-American high school students didn’t graduate, she started tutoring and mentoring those students. Watching young girls grow their confidence and abilities reminds Lynn of all those who helped her succeed. 

Whether she’s getting involved in her sorority, encouraging collaboration within a project team at work or smiling at everyone she sees, Lynn is constantly looking for an opportunity to make someone’s day or life better.

Chris Wilson: When faced with a situation, take action.

Chris Wilson: When faced with a situation, take action.

Chris Wilson’s character and caring are demonstrated at Ascend and everywhere he goes. When driving one Saturday, he noticed clothes strewn in trees – then discovered a car overturned in the creek. The driver was lifeless and her head was barely out of the water. She was suffering from severe hypothermia. Chris quickly called 911, then scrambled down the creek bank, grabbed a tree limb and pulled her out of the water. Thanks to Chris’ actions, she survived and made a full recovery. Chris showed how instinctive actions can make a world of difference. He’s an inspiration to us all. 

Bill Wendt: It’s not just doing a good job that makes the difference.

Bill Wendt: It’s not just doing a good job that makes the difference.

Bill Wendt has always been ahead of his time. Ever since Bill started his impressive career with us in 1974, he has been looking for faster, more efficient and more productive ways of doing things. In fact, Bill noticed that when coke was loaded into open tractor trailers, dust and loose coke would fly out. It was messy, inefficient and an environmental hazard. So he did something about it, designing a new, more efficient tilt ramp technology. A one of a kind process that was revolutionary at the time – and is still being used today. Bill shows that with a little inspiration, we can all make a difference. 

Ascend’s Houston team members get big surprise at volunteer event

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