published Friday, February 14th, 2014

Biz Bulletin: Torch Awards honors ethical businesses

By Jim Winsett

Q: I have been hearing about the Better Business Bureau "Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics." What is this award recognition about?

A: The BBB "Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics" is an award presented each year at the Better Business Bureau Annual Meeting. The award highlights businesses that have gone the extra step in upholding the vision that the BBB has in creating marketplace trust among consumers and businesses. The award is an excellent opportunity for consumers to express appreciation and thanks for a job well done.

BBB receives consumer complaints daily; it is easy to complain when a service or product is not exactly as sold or advertised. However, when expectations are met, as a consumer group, we are slow to compliment the business. This award provides an opportunity to show and express thanks to a business. The following merits are considered when a business is nominated for the Torch Award:

• Strives to provide customer excellence and satisfaction at all times.

• Maintains at a high level, customer and vendor relationships; a business with integrity and perceived in the marketplace as ethical, positive, honest, reliable, and responsive.

• Representative of business ethics in action. The business is engaged in the community, industry and trade groups.

• A business that maintains honorable employee relationships. Continually promotes high ethics within its workforce, trains and demonstrates ethics in the organization.

There are four categories based on employee size and any type of business is eligible for this award. There is also a category for a nonprofit organization. A business or organization does not have to be a BBB Accredited Business to be nominated. The nomination period is open until Feb. 28th. Nominations may be entered by consumers, employees, another business or the business owner.

One way to nominate is to email the company's name and address along with the reason why they should receive the award to You can go online, and fill out a form there: Or you can also call BBB at (423) 266-0396 to ask that a form be mailed to you.

Keep in mind that minimum requirements for businesses/organizations to be considered for the award include: in business for a minimum of three years; should have a favorable track record with the BBB; the business/organization is physically located within the 21-county service area of the BBB Serving Southeast TN and Northwest GA; and the business/organization is free from any evidence that it does not meet its financial obligations.

At the Annual Meeting, BBB also awards the BBB "Student of Integrity" scholarship to current year seniors. The students compete for the scholarship by following certain guidelines with one of them being writing an essay on "the importance of ethics in business and our community."

In 2013, BBB awarded 10 scholarships, each worth $1,000. For more information about the scholarship and to apply, please email the BBB at

Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau of Chattanooga

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