Fred Fehsenfeld, Sr.
Fred Fehsenfeld, Sr. (1924-2018)
Fred Fehsenfeld, Sr., used his mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University to begin his career at Rock Island Refining as a process engineer. Ever the problem solver and innovator, Fehsenfeld went to the library and taught himself how to manufacture asphalt, building an asphalt facility in 1960 that still operates today. With his entrepreneurial spirit, he led the transformation of the original company, Crystal Flash Petroleum, from 100 employees operating gas stations and home heating oil sales in Indiana and Michigan into what has evolved into The Heritage Group, a 6,500-employee company with operations across North America, Europe and China.
Throughout his entire life, Fehsenfeld had a passion for brainstorming ways to improve the U.S. economy. His “Critical Commerce Corridors” initiative is aimed at adding new capacity to America’s transportation network to help significantly improve the safe and efficient movement of goods. It’s a concept that was brought to life as the National Highway Freight Network in the 2012 and 2015 federal surface transportation laws.
A member of the “greatest generation,” Fehsenfeld enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on his 18th birthday during World War II. He was assigned to the 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group in France. He flew 89 missions in Europe and was awarded the Air Medal with three silver clusters and a silver star. He also led his 353rd fighter squadron on the last official flight in the European Theater of Operations.
His many contributions to Purdue University included establishing the Fehsenfeld Family Head of Environmental & Ecological Engineering and Purdue Energy Fund.