Season 5 • Episode 9

With DEI a high priority in today’s work environment, many companies are establishing employee resource groups (ERGs) to bring people together in celebration and support of both their commonalities and their differences. In this episode, we sit down with Dave Erdmann, United States Marine Veteran and Valvoline’s Director of Incubation Enablement, and Eric Bevevino, United States Navy Reserve Veteran and Valvoline Global Operations’ Senior Director, Channel Partner & Heavy Duty Sales to discuss their roles as co-leads of their organizations’ joint Veterans ERG, the benefits and barriers faced while working to gain momentum for this initiative, tips for gaining buy-in from employees and leadership, and honoring the true spirit behind your program to go beyond the workplace and make a meaningful impact in the lives of your employees.


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About DE Talk

For DirectEmployers, it’s all about valuable connections and meaningful conversations. This monthly podcast features honest and open dialogue between powerhouse industry experts on a variety of HR topics ranging from OFCCP compliance advice to emerging recruitment marketing trends, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and insightful solutions that help infuse new life into your HR strategies.

Hosted by Candee Chambers, Executive Director of DirectEmployers Association.

Guest Host

Headshot of Mikey Meagher

​Mikey Meagher

Manager, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategies

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Mikey Meagher is the Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategies at DirectEmployers Association and is focused on fostering relationships with veteran and diversity organizations to promote workforce inclusivity. Mikey began her career recruiting within the IT industry, which made her transition to DirectEmployers partnership team a natural progression as relationship-building and strong communication are core components of both. Within her current role, Mikey works to facilitate conversations between Members and existing partners and provide outreach resources to both parties, as well as identify, develop, and promote new local and national level partnerships. Mikey holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminology from University of Florida, a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Jacksonville University, and is a certified Windmills Trainer and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion professional.

Episode Guest

Dave Erdmann

Dave Erdmann

Director, Pilot & Incubation Enablement, Valvoline, Inc.

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Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dave Erdmann has always had the desire to lead, mentor, and accomplish missions. This began in 1998 when he enlisted in the United States Marines and served as a 3521 (light diesel mechanic) during his four-year enlistment. He was responsible for ensuring battle readiness for up to 450 pieces of rolling stock, including HUMVEEs, 5 and 7.5-ton trucks, and various trailers. Highlights of his time in Okinawa, Japan, included joining a large-scale joint military exercise called “Balikatan 2000”. Dave worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Philippine Marines to strengthen and stabilize the Asia-Pacific region. After Japan, Dave was attached to the Marine Wing Communication Squadron 38 at MCAS Miramar in San Diego, California. Before his end of active service in 2002, he was promoted to Sergeant.

Dave immediately began his career with Valvoline in an operations role, where he spent five years managing 1-7 stores. He then worked as a Key Account Manager supporting the Goodyear Retail Service Centers and eventually made his way to the Valvoline Headquarters in various roles. He currently leads a team of individuals helping shape the future of Valvoline by investigating adjacent business models that could meet the consumer’s needs 5-25 years from now. Dave, a married father of two, leads Valvoline’s Veterans Employee Resource Group and is an avid motorcycle rider. He and his family reside in Lexington, KY.

Eric Bevevino

Eric Bevevino

Senior Director, Channel Partner & Heavy Duty Sales, Valvoline Global Operations

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Eric Bevevino has spent his entire 30-year career in leadership positions related to mission accomplishment and maintenance/reliability. Born and raised in northwestern Pennsylvania, Eric is a graduate of Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Honoring his ROTC scholarship commitment to the US Navy, Eric spent four years on active duty as a Navy Surface Warfare Officer with a Diving and Salvage specialty. Following his stint on active duty, Eric transitioned to the Navy reserves and entered the private sector, taking a position with Castrol Industrial. This five years with Castrol was followed by eight years with Chevron Lubricants. Looking to gain more perspective while using his solid foundation in maintenance from the Navy, Eric left Chevron to join a small reliability consulting firm in Connecticut. Over the next five years he focused on preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, reliability centered maintenance and best practices in asset management. This ultimately led him to his current position at Valvoline as the Senior Director of Channel Partner & Heavy Duty Sales, officed out of Valvoline World Headquarters in Lexington, KY. In the years after graduating from college, Eric has set foot in almost every type of commercial and industrial operation in North America, Southeast Asia, and Western Europe. Eric is a married father of two, a retired Navy Reserve Commander, a Certified Lubrication Specialist, a Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional, a Certified Reliability Leader, and a passionate advocate for veterans.

Episode Transcript

Candee Chambers (00:02):

Get ready. The DE Talk podcast starts now. Insightful conversations and dialogue, helping you put the human factor back in HR.

Mikey Meagher (00:14):

Welcome to the DE Talk podcast. I’m Mikey Meagher, DirectEmployers Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialties. Creating a Culture of belonging is front and center as employers work to cultivate diverse and inclusive workplaces. It’s not enough to recruit talent and give equal access to opportunities. Once they’re in the door employees need to feel that they belong.


Employees resource groups are the catalyst for creating belonging and a sense of community. They offer a way to connect employees with their peers scattered throughout the company and build a support system and a safe space for conversation and connection. As an leader of our ERG program at DirectEmployers, I’m always excited to see behind the curtain, learn how other employers are taking advantage of ERGs as a workforce inclusion activity and learn from their process. I don’t think it’s any secret that if we learn together, we grow together.


Today I’m excited to welcome Dave Erdmann, United States Marine Veteran, and Valvoline director of Incubation Enablement. And Eric Bevevino, United States Navy Reserve Veteran, and Valvoline Global Operations Senior Director, channel partner in heavy duty sales, both of which co-chair, their company’s Veterans Employee Resource Group. So welcome, Dave and Eric. First and foremost, thank you for your service. We’re very excited to have this conversation with you, to not only share your experience, but also provide inspiration to other employers who may be starting out in their ERG journey.

Eric Bevevino (01:55):

Thanks for having us. It’s an honor.

Dave Erdmann (01:56):

Yeah, thank you.

Mikey Meagher (01:57):

It was very exciting. And I think before we really dive into this, why don’t we start out with a little bit of your background, and Dave, if you want to start and you could tell us about your experience in the Marines. I know you’ve had a couple of different situations you’ve been in, so if you want to expand on that, we’d love to hear about the experience.

Dave Erdmann (02:18):

Sure, I’d love to. Then as Eric said, thanks for having us. And anytime somebody says, thank you for your service, my reply is always, “Hey, thanks for paying taxes.” It’s an honor to be a part of this.


My journey really began right out of high school. I went into the Marines in the fall of 1998 and got to spend time in Okinawa Japan, for a year I was stationed there. That was my first duty station, which was a lot of fun. That was the first time I’ve obviously been out of the country and I learned a ton. I was a 3521, which is a light duty diesel mechanic. So if it had wheels on it, we worked on it and we were responsible for quite a bit of gear.


Then after that, I finished my enlistment and in San Diego, which was a very nice place, I was actually at Miramar, which used to be a Navy base, and they gave that to the Marines. I was super thankful for being at Miramar because Marines aren’t used to nice stuff, so it was really an honor to be at Miramar and continue on. I finished my enlistment in the fall of 2002, and it was a great four years. I look back, I still dream about it. I still have a lot of great friends that have retired in San Diego. I’ve taken my family out there to meet them and just really enjoyed serving.

Mikey Meagher (04:08):

Awesome. Yeah, I don’t blame you. San Diego is by far one of my favorite places too. It’s so beautiful.

Dave Erdmann (04:15):


Mikey Meagher (04:16):

Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing that.

Dave Erdmann (04:18):


Mikey Meagher (04:19):

Eric, you want to tell us a little bit about your experience in the Navy as well?

Eric Bevevino (04:24):

Sure. First off, thank you for your patriotism as well, that Dave has his answer and I have my answer for anybody who thanks us for our service. It was certainly an honor and a pleasure.


My service started out with Penn State ROTC, so right in central Pennsylvania. Graduated, got a commission as an ensign in the United States Navy active duty in January of 1990. I went to service for our officer school in Newport, Rhode Island. Got to go to hardhat diving school, Men of Honor type stuff in Panama City for about a half a year there. Then went to the Fleet, started off on ARS-8, which is the Preserver, a diving and salvage ship. Also, went to a Minesweeper MSO-440, the exploit. That rounded out my four years of active duty.


Then I stayed in the reserves for another 18, mostly with small diving units, reserve diving units. But then as I rose through the ranks, became a staff officer supporting Panama, Japan, Italy, and been around a little bit and got all sorts of very cool training and experiences, not only with other cultures, but also in strategy development and mission accomplishment as well as leadership. It was a fun time. I’ve been retired from the Reserves for almost 10 years now, so time flies, 2014.

Mikey Meagher (05:55):

Well, I’m sure that brings a lot of great experience into your current job and previous positions as well. As you both transition really, what was your job experience like into the civilian life? Was it harder than you expected, just about maybe what you’ve heard from other people that done it? Walk us through what that was like.

Dave Erdmann (06:26):

I think for me, I learned a lot about just mechanical skills in general throughout my enlistment. We started out troubleshooting and then we went all the way to big repair and replacement. Really cutting my teeth in the Marines helped me develop that skill. When I look back prior to that, the jobs that I enjoyed the most, which would’ve been in high school, were all retail positions. I really like people, I really like interacting with people, I really like making people’s day. I was just about to get married when I moved home to Cincinnati. I was a little bit nervous, because I was used to the structure, always knowing what to do. But I was also leading people and I wanted the opportunity to lead again, and I didn’t know if I’d get that opportunity.


I was driving by a Valvoline Instant Oil Change in Cincinnati, Ohio, and there was this really gaudy, now hiring sign that I saw on the front door and I thought, “Well, changing oil, I can do that with my eyes closed and it looks like they get to talk to people as well, so maybe this could be a good fit.” I went in and really learned about the process and the structure, which is again, what I was used to in the military. I think that’s what Valvoline brought to me was the sense of process. There’s really one way to do things, and that’s to do them correctly. The manager that hired me saw the leadership qualities that I developed in the Marines and hired me in as an assistant manager, so I did have that responsibility right away. I always like to tell people, I got really, really lucky by seeing that now hiring sign, because I don’t know what I would’ve done without it. Here I am 21 years later. So it’s been a great journey.

Mikey Meagher (08:53):

Not to say that… I don’t think you necessarily got lucky as much as I think you took your experience and a lot of that patience and you said you liked the process. I think having that innate structure already, that was noticed and I think you made an opportunity out of it, which is absolutely awesome.

Dave Erdmann (09:16):

Yeah, thanks.

Eric Bevevino (09:19):

And Dave’s experience, I don’t know if it’s that common, but when I talk to veterans, it’s probably less common that you go right into some sort of management or leadership position from the military. It’s more common to say, “I’m not qualified for anything…” Or to maybe fall into the trap of, “I’m not qualified for anything, because nothing on my resume looks like anything on the job description and I’m just going to take whatever I can. I’m just going to get in. I got to feed my family. I got to get a paycheck,” and that type of thing. Good for you, Dave, for using the semper fi do or die spirit and finding that gaudy sign, because the gaudy signs you were looking for as a Marine usually said free beer or something like that.

Dave Erdmann (10:11):

Exactly right.

Mikey Meagher (10:12):

Not a bad sign either.

Eric Bevevino (10:17):

My experience was a little clunkier perhaps and I think it’s better now. Because I still talk to a lot of veterans who are transitioning, this is a big deal. So this is a great question, because this is where people can get lost in the shuffle. It goes to the heart of the ERGs and the camaraderie, and if somebody does come in from the veteran community, brand new out of active duty or reserves or whatever, making them feel like they belong, they do belong. Having somebody that they can relate to is really, really, really important.


I went through a junior military officer recruiter in Virginia Beach, Norfolk area when I got out. Primarily they set me up for sales jobs, like territory jobs, like go out and sell chemicals for Nalco or sell oil for Dryden or Castrol. I ended up at Castrol on the industrial side, because I think the process that veterans come taught in their formative years of maintenance and reliability is really important. If Dave’s vehicles didn’t run, he’d be overrun by the bad guys. And if the equipment on a ship doesn’t run, then we’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with no help or God forbid, a fire or something like that. That comes through.


Then how was I led to Valvoline? Well, I started in the oil business, I was a tech support specialist with Castrol in the industrial side, and then learned more about motor oils, engine oils, gear oils, greases. Went to Chevron after a stint with Castrol, did some maintenance and reliability consulting for a small company in between oil companies, and then decided I wanted a more sort of stable life, a family, new family, young kids and whatnot. A guy named Kelly Holt came calling from Valvoline, and if you know Kelly, he’s a great coach and leader and mentor, and he signed me up to be the regional account manager in the Northeast for the heavy duty squad of Valvoline.


Did that and also was doing the reserves one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. That helped to augment what I had going on at Valvoline and take a little bit of a break every once in a while from the corporate program. Valvoline treated us really, really well on that. Sometimes you can have issues coming back. Especially from deployments, if you’re gone, there are laws that you’re supposed to hire everybody back and not get rid of their job. Not everybody abides by those laws, but I’m happy to say that Valvoline is very supportive all the way along with the reserve duty. It was all good.

Mikey Meagher (13:19):

Good. That’s very good to hear. I love hearing companies that are taking care of their employees as well as trying to expand that workplace culture, so you’re still getting to do something that you’re passionate about and love and could bring that right back into their company full circle. That’s perfect. Kind of lead this right into our topic of conversation with Employee Resource Groups. Is your Veterans ERG relatively new? Is this something you both were quote unquote, tasked with or had an idea and ran with it? Walk me through how you started or got involved in running your ERG.

Dave Erdmann (14:03):

Yep. The Veterans ERG was introduced to us, I’ll say the middle of 2023. ERG as a whole was new for Valvoline. I was actually approached to co-lead it by our leadership team here at Valvoline. I jumped at it, because there’s other veterans in Valvoline and I really wanted to be a part of creating a special space where veterans can feel safe, experience the camaraderie that we’re used to as veterans. Just do some good, both internally within Valvoline through mentorships and development, and also externally in the community. If anyone knows anything about vets, it’s that we love to give, we love to serve. We didn’t stop serving once we got out of the military. That’s ingrained in us. Co-leading the Veterans ERG with Eric has been a pleasure. In some ways it’s still new and we’re trying to figure things out, but it’s been an amazing journey.

Mikey Meagher (15:32):

Awesome. I can definitely relate. Back in 2022 is when we started our Employee Resource Group, and there was just a handful of us, a task force, putting together a business plan strategy, and that was just year one. Then last year was just one big group for a smaller company. Now this year as of 2024, we have six ERG subgroups. We’ve come a long way in two years and it’s been fantastic and rewarding and I’m sure you can relate to. We have a Veterans ERG as well.

Dave Erdmann (16:15):

That’s great. Congratulations. That’s a lot of movement in a short amount of time, so that’s great to hear.

Mikey Meagher (16:22):

Yeah, we can have a lot of support from our executive director and our leadership team. I think it’s imperative that, especially being a new Employee Resource Group, even if the company’s been around forever, the support is just absolutely so important and I can’t stress that enough. It sounds like Valvoline has given you all the green light and the support that you need to be able to run it efficiently and get everybody involved that want to be involved.

Dave Erdmann (16:56):


Eric Bevevino (16:58):

I’ll just add on to that, the Human Resources group within Valvoline, a little bit of the history, we used to be the same company, just one big Valvoline. Over the past couple of years, the instant oil change piece of the business, which Dave is a part of, and then the Global Operations piece of the business, which I’m part of it, which is a B2B. Now Dave’s like our biggest customer, Dave and the Valvoline Retail Services group are our biggest customer. When that happens, it inspires a lot of change. Shifting around, we had to duplicate HR, finance, all the shared services, and brought in some really top-notch characters from around Lexington. I’ll shout out to Amanda Plakosh who was really, she did this in a past life at another company and she brought that in and that enthusiasm in basically when the template is there and you have somebody whose full-time job it is to keep pushing you along when this is a part-time gig for us, it is 100%.


I agree with you, Mikey, it is 100% key to the success. Because otherwise you may feel like you’re just pushing a rope or you’re out on an island, nobody cares. What are we doing here? We get together for beers or whatever. But this puts structure to it. It enables us to do things within the building, which we’re co-located on. We’ll talk about some of those later, but it really increases the breadth of the membership. Once you have more members, you can get more momentum and push it forward, but the support from the organization has been top-notch and it makes all the difference in the world.

Dave Erdmann (18:53):

Yes. Well said.

Mikey Meagher (18:55):

Really does. With that being said, you obviously have support from the organization, your specific group with the veterans group. Do you have an executive sponsor that champions your work or helps specifically with just the Veterans ERG that can advocate at the higher levels for you?

Dave Erdmann (19:20):

We do, and on each side of the business. Kyle McMahon is my executive sponsor. Kyle is one of our Vice Presidents of Operations for Valvoline Instant Oil Change. He himself is a veteran as well, so he is the sponsor for me on the VIC side and supports me. He’s a huge cheerleader for the Veterans ERG and also challenges me as well, which I need all of that in order to keep this thing moving with Eric.

Eric Bevevino (20:01):

Yeah, same for us. A little bit of duplication in roles here, but you need it. Roger England’s our Chief Technology Officer, and though Roger is not a veteran, his daughter is a veteran recruiter for John Deere out of Florida, and her husband is an army officer, army intel officer. He’s related, patriotic, Johnny on the spot, helps out with whatever we need and is a great advocate for the ERG.

Mikey Meagher (20:32):

Perfect. I’m sure that, like you said, it helps with the momentum and engagement and really that’s the recipe to keep it going and bring some validity to it too. Because I think sometimes when these groups are new, there can be a lot of speculation, like what are you actually doing? What’s the goal here? But the goal is culture and finding the right fit for retention and keeping your employees. Really happy to hear that we have similar experiences with the support from leadership and it seems like we’re both on the right track, so that’s good so far.

Eric Bevevino (21:15):

Well, without a doubt. Just one more thing. I think it’s community. Community is struggling in some portions of this country, so we have got all types, shapes and sizes of people everywhere. Some have veteran experiences, others or other parts of other ERGs. It’s really a sense of belonging and community, that since we do spend so much time at work and it’s most of what we do in our life, at least our pre-retirement life, it’s filling that gap.

Mikey Meagher (21:51):


Eric Bevevino (21:52):

Filling that gap. Well, good point.

Mikey Meagher (21:57):

How many participate in your ERG? Do you open it up to allies and military spouses, or is this pretty much just your veterans?

Dave Erdmann (22:09):

Total, we have about 70 members of the Veterans ERG, and that’s split about fifty-fifty between Valvoline Retail Services and Valvoline Global Operations. We really enjoy all the members that we have. It took us a little bit to get there. On the retail side, we had a national meeting in October that we invite all of our store managers. So we have approximately 900 corporate Valvoline Instant Oil Change locations across the United States. Once a year we get them together and have our big national meeting.


During that, we had a resource fair that included all the various ERGs to just talk with anybody that wanted to know more about it. From that event alone is where, at least on the retail side, we got most of our members. Having a captive audience in a table of a resource fair or a vendor fair, I would say was a really good idea, because we got so much traction from that one event alone. That’s essentially how that grew overnight. I was super pleased to get that many interested people in that. As far as who can be in the ERG, obviously veterans, but we have family members of veterans or family members of active duty members and patriots. If you just support the military and veterans, we’d love to have you. I think opening it up to that has made the ERG stronger.

Mikey Meagher (24:15):

Yes. I love, not your idea, but the fact that you guys hosted a resource fair and that’s how you were able to spread the message. You’re definitely a larger company than DirectEmployers is, but just little tidbits like that, even for our company side, is such a good idea and I think would be paramount to getting other employees involved. I like that little takeaway from that.

Dave Erdmann (24:45):

It’s much more effective than an email, “Hey, if you’re interested in this reply.” The odds of you getting a reply are pretty slim. But when you have that many people in person, I would a hundred percent recommend it.

Mikey Meagher (25:02):

Very cool. What have either been some barriers that you and Eric had run into with running the Employee Resource Group? And what are some benefits you’ve seen come out of this outside of maybe just camaraderie, more thinking along the lines of a strategic business plan?

Eric Bevevino (25:30):

I’ll take that on a little bit. One of the challenges is that our employees are very spread out across the United States for Dave and myself, but also across the globe for Valvoline Global Operations. There’s a small core group in headquarters that does a lot of the work. So you can quickly get overwhelmed if you’re not delegating and if you don’t have a structure. HR brought a nice structure into that, but there may only be 10 people at headquarters managing that and then trying to replicate that structure out to demographic clusters of employees. Because we have plants, blending plants in Houston and Pittsburgh, Dallas and other places around the country. That’s a little bit of a challenge, but Microsoft Teams helps with that, getting everybody on.


That was one of the benefits of Covid. It showed us that we can do all this stuff whenever we want. It’s not as good as face-to-face, but it’s better than just picking up the phone, I suppose, and talking to folks. But that’s been a big challenge. Sometimes the budgeting perhaps can be a challenge, unless you know exactly what you have and people who are experienced with how much these different types of things cost and being able to get things for free perhaps or donated, as opposed to having to go out and buy them and stuff like that. I think those are some of the challenges. I’m not sure if I answered the entire question, Dave. Did I miss anything?

Dave Erdmann (27:17):

No, well said, Eric. On my side, there’s 11,000 total Valvoline employees, and 9,900 of what we call Vamily members, because we’ll put a V on anything. 9,900 of our Vamily members are in the stores across the US. As Eric said, Teams is difficult because it’s not that in-person feel, but it gives us the ability to reach more team members and just connect. Because again, as Eric said, if one good thing came out of COVID, it was our ability to “Semper Gumby”, be always flexible and connect with each other virtually.

Mikey Meagher (28:14):

Yes, it definitely has. I always say too, because even before the pandemic, I was remote in our company. I think I met and connected more with each person in the company than I did prior to the Pandemic, because then we all were remote, we were always on Zoom in the beginning, and we still are, but just so much more effective and more efficient with our engagement now. I think that has really helped, at least our company culture as a whole. So you’re so spread out, how often do you meet as a group? Do you do it quarterly, monthly?

Eric Bevevino (28:55):

We meet every month on an hour phone call for everybody. Then we have ad-hoc meetings around the two real cornerstone veteran holidays of the year being Memorial Day and Veterans Day. That’s one way we meet. Then we’re just starting a social program where we get together. Dave did, we settle on six weeks? We were between quarterly and…

Dave Erdmann (29:29):

Every six weeks or so.

Eric Bevevino (29:32):

Yeah. Our plan is to get together at a bar or restaurant, tell some stories, I’m sure they’ll all be true, and have a few adult beverages or not and maybe some bar food, but that’s the plan. There are other opportunities to get together. In support of the 4th of July parade, we assembled a small group of five folks and we handed out tchotchkes and we walked alongside the Baja truck, which is a cool off-road truck built by Valvoline and Cummins in a partnership and ran the Baja 1000, I think it is. Baja 501,000. Sorry, I’m not an aficionado there. We did that.


Also, we ran in the Honor Flight 5K. We assembled a team, actually more people came out to that. I think we had 20 or 25 runners at the local horse track here, which is called Keeneland. It’s very nice. We did that and we supported the honor flight in Kentucky. We do little things like that charity things and some big things too around the year to help improve camaraderie and get everybody together.

Mikey Meagher (30:53):

That’s awesome. I can only imagine you’ll expand out from there too. I like the idea of starting your social program. We’ve done a couple of things like that too, whether you’re getting together in person and supporting. We’ve done a disability-owned organization, women’s-owned organization, and just trying to give back locally into the Indianapolis community whenever we get a chance. It sounds like you’re doing the same things, and it does feel good as a group when you’re all getting together for that same purpose.

Eric Bevevino (31:33):

It really does. It really does. Examples of that, Dave, we went to the Lyric Theater recently for Black History Month with the black and African-American group within Valvoline. That was great and really creative on the part of HR. If you haven’t seen this play, it’s an interesting play. It has a twist, and I won’t ruin it for you, you should go see it. But very welcoming and supportive. All the way around really, pretty good. We’re also doing for Mental Health Month, the last year we had a Mental Health Seminar, of course with veterans as well as the whole community. In the US, as I’m learning, suicide is a bigger and bigger issue, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, mental health, that type of thing. We’ve been supporting that.


We also actually walking in the building one day I saw one of our fellow veterans and we exchanged pleasantries, and he was like, “I was thinking about this. Interest rates are high. Does everybody know about VA loans and what you can do with that?” And I was like, “I know a little bit about it, but it’s probably a good point. Let me see what’s happening.” So I cast a net out to the Veterans ERG on Microsoft Teams, find out that somebody here in Lexington has a friend who is a banker that specializes in VA loans. In about three weeks later, we had a small group of people brought in lunch and had a presentation, which we recorded for the folks who aren’t in Lexington, about how to use VA loans and what’s the latest and greatest and who to contact and everything like that. It tends to take on the life of its own a little bit and be self-fulfilling once the group feels like there’s support and we’re listened to and we’re going to take action on stuff.

Mikey Meagher (33:49):

I feel like that’s the fun of it. This has been so fun putting together, and also nerve wracking. Because sometimes each month I’m like, “Oh man.” We’re walking into another meeting and it’s just you want to do right by everybody. But each interaction is its own journey that then casts off into another idea, something else you do the next month. That has been a lot of fun. Getting to be a part of this and start it from scratch is, as you know, definitely, like you said, takes a life of its own and it’s awesome.

Eric Bevevino (34:27):

Keeps things hopping. There’s no question about that.

Mikey Meagher (34:30):


Eric Bevevino (34:31):

They can talk about work-life balance. How about work-work balance?

Dave Erdmann (34:39):

Eric mentioned what we partnered with our Black African-American resource group last month, having other leaders and working with other leaders and other ERGs has been helpful for us, because we’re all on the same journey because all of the ERGs were started at the same time essentially. Partnering with other ERGs has been really helpful and has given us a chance to share best practices, what’s working well across the organization and in these other employee resource groups. I’ve found that very helpful.

Mikey Meagher (35:24):

Yes, the collaboration. That’s the other thing I love too, is cross collaboration. That you get to work with other people in the company that outside of an ERG you really might never have to cross with, and just sharing those ideas. With that being said, do you know offhand how many ERGs total you have in the company?

Eric Bevevino (35:48):

We were clicking them off now. They’re relatively new, but I think the one that’s been around the longest, well, Dave already mentioned the Black and African-American group, but also it’s the Women’s Group. I should be able to remember what the acronym stands for, but Valvoline International and Empowering Women, but that’s our largest ERG and are one that’s been around the longest.


We also have an LGBTQIA, probably LGBTQIA Group, Veterans Women’s Young Professionals, which is managed by a young lady out of Australia. Parents and Caregivers, which is interesting. Because you think of parents and caregivers, you have children running around and you also have adults that need care too, as we migrate through life and grow older. Then I think the final group that is just really being kicked off is a Well-being Group. It’s more of a mental and physical health well-being group. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, I think seven altogether.

Mikey Meagher (37:04):

That a incredible!

Eric Bevevino (37:07):

And we have a yearbook that’s getting ready to be published.

Dave Erdmann (37:11):

That’s right.

Eric Bevevino (37:12):

Who would’ve thought.

Mikey Meagher (37:16):

That is such a good idea.

Eric Bevevino (37:18):

Yeah, we’ll have to share that with you when it comes out. It’s in the final phases of-

Mikey Meagher (37:22):

Please do.

Eric Bevevino (37:24):

… editing. Just making sure it’s all polished up for the year 2023.

Mikey Meagher (37:29):

Yeah. I want to suggest this to our marketing team. They’ll probably hate me right now being like, “No, don’t add more work to our plate.” Because they’re incredible in everything that they do, and we’re always just firing new ideas at them. But I love the yearbook idea. That’s really, really awesome.

Eric Bevevino (37:46):

It doesn’t have to be a high school or college yearbook. It can be just a few pages or four or five pages, just something nice to remind folks. Then if people are wanting to join the company, then they can see proof that there’s actual activity going on here versus lip service and no action.

Mikey Meagher (38:08):

Yes, exactly. That’s a great point because there is a lot of that too. Talking with you this past hour, I can tell that that’s not what you both are about. That’s certainly not what we’re about, so I think that’s a great idea to counter that. I do have a couple more questions for you. And I think I already know the answer to this one, but what compels you both to continue to lead the ERG, knowing that there are other members in the group that I’m sure would be willing to take over if need be. But what keeps you coming back? Because I know this personally, it is like a second job to keep this going and to keep the momentum moving forward.

Dave Erdmann (39:02):

I think for me, the passion that Eric and I have just around veterans and the highs and the lows that veterans can experience, knowing that we’re part of an organization that recognizes those and giving us the ability to again, make that special place where we can all be together, is super important for us to lead.


For me personally, I talked about my story earlier. There’s other Dave Erdmanns out there that are getting ready to get out of the military and are looking for opportunities in the civilian world. I’m really using this to attract more veterans to Valvoline and especially the E-4, E-5, E-6, the non-commissioned officers that have done their four years and are getting out and are really looking for what’s next. I know what I brought to the table and as an organization, I’ll say historically, we haven’t really looked for those. We’re really proud of hiring technicians and then proving that you can actually lead before you get to that promotion. We’ve been able to partner with RecruitMilitary and some other recruiting organizations that have really helped us attract veterans in that E-4, E-5, E-6, so that they can make an impact immediately when they’re hired in and feel that sense of worth. Those are the types of things that I really want to continue to lead and continue to champion.

Mikey Meagher (41:08):

Very cool.

Eric Bevevino (41:09):

I would agree a hundred percent on all points. The transition phase, like we mentioned before, is really the most precarious part of any serviceman or service woman’s journey through life. I firmly believe by helping to create a bridge, albeit maybe a small bridge to Valvoline, we can keep service members departing from the military. 200,000 per year are leaving active duty, keep them from any sort of downward spiral on the path to hurting themselves or being less than what they could be, and certainly bringing that leadership to the organization and the country that we also desperately need. Just continue, that’s the core mission.


Ultimately, I’ll be a part of this group and a leader for as long as I can be that, for sure. But certainly want to make sure that the foundation of the house is stable before we bring in the roofers and the other folks, because there’s plenty of talent that can just step in here and do it. That will happen soon. Because one of the great things about these, let’s call them affinity groups or ERGs, is that folks who may not have high titles or leadership or management positions today, can exhibit their talents and have an opportunity within a group like this and then also get face time with the executives because this type of stuff is always really in front of the executive committees and the executive team. I think that’s all a part of it.


Just a final example of that, we haven’t quite talked about it yet. But we had a service member who was deployed, got to Valvoline, joined over the summer, got deployed to Lebanon in the Kentucky National Guard. This is a Valvoline Global Operations person. The support not only from his team. His team in supply chain rallied around him, but they also reached out to us and the folks from the VRS, they’ve included the folks from Valvoline Global Operations. We all rallied around this individual to make sure that, not only was he taken care of, he wasn’t too worried about himself, but we had a crew that made sure that packages are going and he’s taken care of. But we also had a crew that was taken care of his wife and kids at home and make sure that their grass was cut and that if they need anything, groceries or childcare or anything like that, that was taking place. It’s just really inspirational to be a part of when you see things like that.

Mikey Meagher (44:21):

You’re giving me chills.

Eric Bevevino (44:22):

Yeah, and inspirational to work with Dave. I know we’ve been buddies in the organization as it was one, but it’s two now. Sometimes it’s hard to get this collaboration with your own organization, let alone with an affinity group across organizations, but sometimes there’s less bureaucracy perhaps, and even more and more of that is happening.


Cummins Engine Company out of Columbus, Indiana, invited us to be part of a larger group that has Otis Elevator, Pinterest, Palo Alto Networks, and Verizon, so some technical companies, not all old hardline industrial companies. Once every six weeks we meet and we’re starting to share guest speakers, we’re starting to share ideas, challenge coin manufacturers, all that type of stuff to help each other out. I think ultimately at the end of the day, we’ll make that transition process easier for folks who are coming out of the military. Because it’s getting better, but it’s still a little clunky, and they’re just so many resources, but they’re all not in the same spot, and they’re not easy for people to navigate. Especially if they’ve only known the service say for 20 or 30 years, or maybe just five. That’s probably more than what you bargained for in that one, but we’ve got a lot of passion around that question.

Mikey Meagher (46:06):

No, I love it. You just learn so much. Honestly, I don’t know anybody else in your company, but I can sit here and say, I think you’re the best two to lead what you’re doing. Your efforts, I’m sure definitely do not go unnoticed. I just want to thank you, because I do know the effort behind it, but you guys have so much going on behind the scenes as well. To reach out to that employee and not only make sure he’s getting care packages, but the family, and that is just something I hope for all companies at some point just becomes something you don’t even have to think about or you don’t even need an employee resource group to have that come to your head.

Eric Bevevino (46:54):

That’s the goal. That’s the goal, for sure.

Mikey Meagher (46:57):

Yep. Thank you both for doing what you do. And again, thank you so much for your service and being here today.

Eric Bevevino (47:04):

Well, we appreciate the opportunity, Mikey, for sure. I can tell you got a heart of gold through these conversations. All good.

Dave Erdmann (47:17):

Mikey, thanks for having us, and thanks for letting us brag on not only what Valvoline is doing, but what the Veterans ERG is doing. We appreciate it.

Mikey Meagher (47:27):

Always. I’m so glad I got to learn so much and definitely have some takeaways myself. So I know other employers listening to this, I think this will be a very valuable episode for them.

Dave Erdmann (47:37):


Mikey Meagher (47:39):

Awesome. Well, thank you both so much.

Eric Bevevino (47:41):

Thank you, Mikey.

Dave Erdmann (47:41):

Thank you.

Eric Bevevino (47:42):

Appreciate it.

Candee Chambers (47:43):

Thank you for tuning in for another episode of the DE Talk Podcast. Stay connected with DirectEmployers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to our emails by visiting to receive notifications of new episodes each month.

Candee Chambers
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