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.

Russell Means: I do what’s best for the company

Russell Means: I do what’s best for the company

When you’re the “no” guy, you’re not always the most popular person at work. That doesn’t bother Russell Means, site operation gatekeeper at the Chocolate Bayou. Russell’s focus isn’t on winning a popularity contest – it’s on doing what’s best for the site and the company.

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Rod Johnson: Take pride, ownership in your job

Rod Johnson: Take pride, ownership in your job

Supply chain and commercial employees once spent a quarter of their time collecting and summarizing data for reports. Rod discovered an existing, paid license for data visualization software, and now report data that once took hours to produce is now compiled, calculated and visualized in seconds.

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Patrick Bair: Continuous improvement is way of life

Patrick Bair: Continuous improvement is way of life

"A kaizen project allows a team to focus solely on the performance of a small, specific area,” said Patrick Bair, production supervisor in Decatur. Patrick knows the satisfaction that comes from making improvements at the site and has applied the kaizen philosophy to himself.

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James Stinson: A project isn't done until it’s done right

James Stinson: A project isn't done until it’s done right

Two weeks after the 2011 tornado outbreaks in Decatur, James was asked to help restart the site. “After the devastation that took place, it was my job to help and make sure the restart of the site was done safely and successfully,” said James.

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Jeannie Kwarsick: If it involves a challenge, she tackles it

Jeannie Kwarsick: If it involves a challenge, she tackles it

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.

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Cedric Watson: How his innovation saved $1 million

Cedric Watson: How his innovation saved $1 million

Until recently, Cedric 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. But thanks to a little inspiration, Cedric has revolutionized the inspection program.

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Glenn Drummond: From teen contract operator to executive

Glenn Drummond: From teen contract operator to executive

At 18, Glenn landed a contract position as a manufacturing operator at the Greenwood plant. 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.

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Jennifer Harrison: A chance encounter changed a life

Jennifer Harrison: A chance encounter changed a 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 


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Page Title: Employee Stories

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Inspiring Everyday: I do what’s best for the company

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