"These businesses are being recognized for consistently demonstrating the highest integrity in their practices toward customers, employees, suppliers, industry peers and the communities in which they do business," said James L. Bast, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the umbrella organization for the nation's 133 Better Business Bureaus (BBBs). "The finalists vary by size, location and type of business, but they each illustrate that adhering to ethical business practices gives a company a competitive advantage, while helping to uphold a marketplace that is fair for all Americans."
This year's finalists competed against more than a thousand entries nationwide. More than 40 Better Business Bureaus conduct local competitions and forward their Torch Award winners for consideration in the national competition. An independent panel of judges with expertise in business ethics then selects the most outstanding entries for recognition as finalists for the BBB National Torch Award.
The finalists for the 1999 BBB National Torch Award hail from 15 states. Listed in alphabetical order by size category, the companies are:
Large-Size Category (more than 1,000 employees): 6 finalists
BE&K, Inc. (Birmingham, AL) - construction and engineering
CDW Computer Centers, Inc. (Vernon Hills, IL) - computer retailer
Hy-Vee, Inc. (West Des Moines, IA) - retail supermarket
IBM Corporation, Inc. (Armonk, NY) - information technology
QVC Network, Inc. (West Chester, PA) - electronic retailer
Rich Products Corp. (Buffalo, NY) - frozen foods manufacturer
Medium-Size Category (100-999 employees): 8 finalists
ABB Control, Inc. (Wichita Falls, TX) - manufacturer
Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. (Lincoln, NE) - insurance and financial services
Armstrong International, Inc. (Three Rivers, MI) - manufacturing
Bales Motor Company (Jeffersonville, IN) - automotive dealership
Cherokee Masonry, Inc. (Gaffney, SC) - masonry contractor
Neil Kelly Company (Portland, OR) - home remodeling
Rudolph Chevrolet (El Paso, TX) - automotive dealership
Time Warner Cablevision - Waco Division (Waco, TX) - cable & satellite television
Small-Size Category (less than 100 employees): 8 finalists
Automation Systems International, Inc. (Longview, TX) - industrial automation design
Basement Systems, Inc. (Seymour, CT) - basement waterproofing
Dakota K Auto Repair & Tire Center (Arlington Heights, IL) - auto repair & tire center
James Lane A/C & Plumbing Co., Inc. (Wichita Falls, TX) - air conditioning & plumbing
Middletown Roofing & Window Co., Inc. (Louisville, KY) - roofing, window & guttering
National Energy Conservation Corporation (Olney, MD) - siding & replacement windows
Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry (El Paso, TX) - jewelry retail
WRVA 1140 AM Radio (Richmond, VA) - commercial radio station
"Through the national competition, and all of the local competitions, the Better Business Bureau system is bringing positive attention to the many businesses that do care about maintaining good relations with their customers, employees, competitors and communities. These businesses have discovered the long-term value of excellence, fairness, honesty and trustworthiness in their day-to-day operations," said Calvin J. Collier, chair of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and senior vice president and general counsel/corporate affairs, Kraft Foods, Inc.
This is the fourth annual Better Business Bureau National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics competition. The winners of this year's national award are selected from the above group and will be announced at a ceremony on March 29, 1999 to be attended by leaders from business, consumer, academic, government and news media sectors. Judy Woodruff, CNN's prime anchor and senior correspondent, will be the keynote speaker.
About the BBB National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics:
The Judging: The award-winning companies were selected by an independent panel of business ethics experts: Allen Beatty, former senior vice president, Bureau Network Division, Council of Better Business Bureaus; Professor Thomas Dunfee, Department of Legal Studies, The Wharton School; Robert Mercer, former CEO of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and former chair of the Council of Better Business Bureaus; Garry C. Myers, III, CEO of Highlights for Children, Inc., a 1998 BBB National Torch Award winner; and Laura Nash, director, Institute for Values-Centered Leadership, Harvard Divinity School.
Award Criteria: Companies were evaluated against criteria that included commitment to and demonstration of ethical practices in the marketplace; high standards of behavior toward customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and communities; truthfulness and accuracy of advertising and sales practices; ethical reputation among industry peers and in communities in which they do business; long-term value of ethics policies to shareholders, customers and employees; and training and communications programs to assist employees in carrying out established ethics policies.
Previous Recipients: The Council of Better Business Bureaus established the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics in 1996. Previous award winners include: Sony Electronics Inc. of Park Ridge, NJ, Dollar General Corporation of Nashville, TN, and Praxair, Inc. of Danbury, CT (large size companies); Certified Transmission Rebuilders, Inc., of Omaha, NE, Jordan's Furniture of Avon, MA, and Highlights for Children, Inc. of Columbus, OH (medium size companies); and, E. E. Ward Transfer & Storage of Columbus, OH, Cuglewski, Timko, & Associates, D.D.S., Inc. of Parma, OH, and Fletcher Communications of Waco, TX (small size companies).