Ascend Performance Materials

  www.ascendmaterials.com
  www.ascendmaterials.com

Ascend Performance Materials Reviews

Updated November 12, 2014
Updated November 12, 2014
39 Reviews
3.8
39 Reviews
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Ascend Performance Materials CEO Fred Poses
Fred Poses
5 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Interviewing Process

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Ascend Performance Materials full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Everyone on the interview team was very welcoming and put me at ease. The interview agenda was very well organized. The benefits and compensation package that was offered exceeded my expectations.

    Cons

    The mere size of the plant and the reporting structure may be overwhelming for some. However, employees at Ascend seem to be very patient and willing to answer questions.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Co-op at Ascend Performance Materials

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Co-Op in Decatur, AL
    Current Employee - Co-Op in Decatur, AL

    I have been working at Ascend Performance Materials as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Growing company
    good hourly pay for students (co-op)
    Everybody here is always happy to help

    Cons

    Nothing worth mentioning! They can may be get the co-op s involved in a lot more stuff

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Perfect Co-Op Experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Co-Op
    Current Employee - Co-Op

    I have been working at Ascend Performance Materials as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Good hands on projects for manufacturing Co-Ops.
    There's a variety of talent and people to learn from if you seek them out.
    Nicest people you will ever meet work there.
    Most mentors are flexible about you taking off a day or two a term.
    There's plenty of opportunities to grow yourself if you pursue them.

    Cons

    Sometimes you're not given enough work if you don't pursue projects on your own.
    Mentors and other engineers can be too busy to help you at times.
    HR is not always helpful for your questions or concerns or will take an extended amount of time (a month or more) to get back to you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There's not too much advice for me to give. You run a good Co-Op program that I'm proud to be a part of and you make an effort to show that the Co-Op program is important to you too.
    Organization within HR would be nice. It's sometimes hard to reach them or get all my questions answered fully.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5.  

    Great place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Ascend Performance Materials

    Pros

    Flexible schedule- competitive salary
    401k match is healthy

    Cons

    People are stretched a little thin at times.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make realistic expectations

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Top heavy company that squeezes it's employees that actually do the work and get very little reward

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Ascend Performance Materials full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    When I was there my coworkers were mostly class act people who did there job well

    Cons

    Management doesn't reward the front line workers as they should while reaping all the benefits for themselves instead

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Figure out your employees are the most valuable resource if you have and start treating them like it the company as a whole will benifit

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Growing firm, tough work environment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Engineer in Alvin, TX
    Former Employee - Engineer in Alvin, TX

    I worked at Ascend Performance Materials full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    It's unique - a privately owned company with the feel of a well-established firm. It's also growing and changing, so in some ways, it's like being at a start-up in that, as an employee, what you do helps shape what the firm looks like in the next year, even though some of the facilities, people, and processes have been in place and operating for decades.

    I believe that it's a good place for a young professional to gain some experience and begin developing his or her career. Work can be challenging, often fast-paced, and you could have an opportunity to make an impact quickly. There's plenty of opportunity to learn about chemicals processing and chemical plants, as well as how to adapt to changing market conditions. If you're mid-career coming in, it's a different deal. The rank and file employees are helpful, and take pride in their work.

    Compensation is good if you're entry-level, you can do better and be appreciated more somewhere else if you're not.

    Ascend does some things very well: it is adept at taking an initiative, getting the workforce reorganized and executing rapidly. Benefits are good, but are being reduced steadily each year. The company seems stable, is making money, and company growth potential is tangible. Work teams evolve quickly too as project and plant needs change, so there's potential for lots of exposure to colleagues, systems, and other departments at the site.

    Safety and safety awareness is a key company value, the ESH department is highly visible, accessible, and responsive. Performance bonuses are offered and paid, yearly, but typically, employees receive 40% of the beginning of the year projected bonus. Raises, if offered, run around 2%.

    Cons

    1. The work environment is highly politicized. There's an old-guard held over from the Monsanto days, they control key parts of the management structure. This group hands down decisions and determines direction. If you're not "in" with them, ask too many questions, fail to defer to their opinions, or challenge a decision, you'll be singled out for discipline and phased out.
    2. Work-life balance is poor; the average work week is about 50-65 hrs a week and can go as high as 90. There are retention issues (very high attrition) that are fueling chronic under-staffing; that extends the average work week.
    3. The performance evaluation system is "rank and yank". Consequently, being recognized as a good contributor or even a satisfactory employee has little to nothing to do with job performance and more to do with ability to navigate the politics.
    4. The IT infrastructure and technology was stuck in the stone age when I started; it's been upgraded, but was still a good 5 years behind industry standard, when I left.
    5. There are contractors there who have more tenure with the firm than many of the permanent employees, but I understand that HR has started addressing this.
    6. Communication from upper management is sometimes unclear, and sometimes does not make it past mid-management in a timely manner, as some of them routinely withhold these communications on a self-perceived 'need-to-know' basis.
    7. Middle management, especially the Monsanto contingent, seems highly resistant to change.
    8. Morale is low, but there are a lot of good people there who keep giving their best anyway. I was told when I came in: 'don't expect to be acknowledged or rewarded for good work - get used to knowing that a job well done will have to be its own reward'. Some people may find this bothersome.
    9 Training and employee development opportunities are non-existent, for all practical purposes.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    1. Communication between management and the employee base is broken, fixing it would likely improve some of the dissatisfaction in the rank and file Might be good to at the top and working down.
    2. Value your people, and show them that they are valued.
    3. Talk to employees about their concerns on perceived management issues, and act on them. Develop and implement an open, transparent management structure.
    4. Work on retention and employee development, so that work-life balance improves.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Good experience in first 3 years. Looks to be a good place for the future.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer in Alvin, TX
    Current Employee - Engineer in Alvin, TX

    I have been working at Ascend Performance Materials full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very positive outlook for the future. Ascend is supporting many new ideas to better the company. They have a Wellness team that is gaining budget year after year to support events and healthy challenges; they are finally starting to talk about a flexible work schedule (no new polices as of 8/1/14); and the leadership team is actively looking for growth opportunities for their mid-level experience workforce.

    Future business outlook looks promising.
    .

    Cons

    There seems to be 2-3 members of the plant level leadership team that are part of the old guard and run the show. You better not say anything contrary to any of these key elders or your career will be stalled and phased out.

    Slow moving company with regard to change -- however they are at least moving in the direction of change. For example, they are just now recognizing need to develop and maintain their 2-6 year employees, just now recognizing need for flexible schedules, more development opportunities between senior engineer and management and more competitive bonuses/salary packages.

    IT policies are absolutely archaic and impede productivity.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    1. Find your top talent, value them and retain them.
    2. Identify non-performers and get them to improve or manage them out of the system. Focus on a culture of individual accountability and move away from the shotgun approach.
    3. Leverage IT technology for productivity improvements

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Was growing but now stagnated.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Engineer in Alvin, TX
    Former Employee - Engineer in Alvin, TX

    I worked at Ascend Performance Materials full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great place to learn through hard knocks. Lots of problems to solve. Processes are challenging for engineers and you get to experience many different technologies.

    Cons

    Work life balance is a challenge. Communication down to our level is not very clear at times. Changing priorities is always happening. This does not allow us to focus and complete our work in timely and organized manner. All leaders are trying to do the right thing and the best they can but there seems to be a lack of connection and focus. Major expansions have come to a halt and now have many individuals concerned.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Value the people.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Culture is positive and jobs are impactful

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Houston, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Houston, TX

    I have been working at Ascend Performance Materials full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Broad, challenging jobs which offer great career growth. Company cares about employees and the communities where they operate. The first week in June, 2014, small groups of employees at all six U.S.-based sites were given $1,000 and told to do good in the community that day. Some handed out lunch to the homeless and others selected specific individuals who needed financial assistance. I have never worked for a company that would even consider something like this!!

    Cons

    Company is still defining business processes and structure is limited. Great for some, highly ambiguous and sometimes frustrating for others.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Communications to employees have strengthened greatly over the past 6 months about business performance, company goals and values. Please continue this.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 5 people found this helpful  

    Hope Things Improve

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Corporate Houston in Houston, TX
    Current Employee - Corporate Houston in Houston, TX

    I have been working at Ascend Performance Materials full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Operations and contractors folks keep the business afloat and are paid at average to keep up with market. Company tends to bring good professionals but management keeps them from performing in the best interest of the business. 3-4 years ago, company made lots of money and our bonus was around 140% of target; thanks to Invista that had quality issues and their clients switched over to Ascend.

    Cons

    Egos are a big issue and play a big role in company's culture. People spend significant time navigating through politics. Perform your role in the best interest of the business, but not in the best interest of personal interests and you will be singled out and, possibly, let go. Co-employment is a big issue since the Monsanto time, we were communicated that a project to address co-employment was on the works but the HR associate managing the project left, IT re-took it; however IT is not co-employment expert. Co-employment issue has increased in the past 1.5 years with new HR team starting treating contractors as employees. Management doesn't communicate well with owners when setting bonus goals, and while company tends to have good earnings, the paid bonuses have been at 50% or below in the past 2 years. Work hard long hours for owners to make cash but expect to be paid at 40% of your target bonus. There is a culture to have small wins, get the low hanging fruit with no high impact on the business, rather than addressing achievable high impact results for the business. Sad to experience that some management members feel they belong to a different class and treat non-management members disrespectfully. Superficial-highly political relationships and finger pointing is a must. HR headcount is large and results are yet to be seen for the past 4-5 years. HR head and team have been promising for years, but no deliverables yet. 3 new and very good corporate HR guys have already left the company; not so good corporate HR guys stayed. Finance team members look at each other as enemies; no collaboration, finance managers use management by fear with their directs. Management by fear is embedded in the company's DNA. Management knows the company has quality issues and top management tends to blame the client's processes to cover own quality issues. Some clients have terminated contracts because of quality issues. Heard from new hires that during the interview and selection process they were told the company was great, when they join they get disappointed. President left, or was let go last week. Big expansion project is now frozen due to forced-by-top-management unrealistic expectations.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Remove narcissism from top management. Change culture from the top, do care about your employees - walk the talk. Present the company "as is" during the recruitment process, no lies; if company's culture is not great, say it. Be open and realistic, many families depend on this company.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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