Category 1 -- 1 to 10 employees
• Winner -- Top This Construction
• Honorable mention -- Brody Jewelers
Category 2 -- 11 to 99 employees
• Winner -- Eric Buchanan & Associates
• Honorable mention -- The Cleaning Authority
Category 3 -- 100 to 250 employees
• Winner -- Capital Toyota
• Honorable mention -- Mountain View Ford Lincoln
Category 4 -- more than 250 employees
• Winner -- Stowers Machinery Corp
• Honorable mention -- ERMC
• Winner -- Chattanooga Goodwill Industries
• Honorable mention -- Mountain Education Foundation
BBB Students of Integrity:
• Katherine E. Bishop, Walker Valley High School, Cleveland, TN
• Dani'el M. Carpenter, Soddy Daisy High School, Soddy Daisy, TN
• Briana R. Carter, Rhea County High School, Evensville, TN
• Tanika I. Gholston, Whitwell High School, Whitwell, TN
• Seth T. Jones, Rhea County High School, Evensville, TN
• Crystal N. Lee, Trion High School, Trion, GA
• Caleb J. McKinney, Georgia-Cumberland Academy, Calhoun, GA
• Benjamin A. Nwadike, Georgia-Cumberland Academy, Calhoun, GA
• Benjamin W. Pettway, Baylor School, Chattanooga, TN
• Brooke A. Pugsley, Heritage High School, Ringgold, GA
Nearly a dozen Chattanooga businesses and nonprofits won recognition on Thursday from their peers in the corporate community as part of the Better Business Bureau's annual Torch Awards.
The Better Business Bureau, which in Chattanooga is headed by president Jim Winsett, works to create a self-regulating marketplace in which businesses take the initiative to protect consumers and generate trust.
"Do not tell me that character doesn't affect the bottom line," said David Horsager, a busines strategist who works as a speaker, author and consultant. "You reap what you sow."
Customers expect consistency every time, not excuses and apologies, Horsager said.
"This is why we trust McDonald's, because you get the same burger in Tokyo, Frankfurt and Cleveland," he said. "People don't trust you when you say sorry all the time. The only way to rebuild trust is to make and keep a commitment."
Stowers Machinery Corp., Capital Toyota, Eric Buchanan & Associates, and Top This Construction took home top honors from a field of 17 nominees, while Chattanooga Goodwill Industries won the Torch award in the nonprofit category.
"I believe ethics in the business world is both the easiest thing to do and the most difficult," said Capital Toyots owner Bob McKamey, winner of the Torch award among nominees with between 100 and 250 employees.
McKamey, who has consistently won recognition across the U.S. for outstanding customer service, said the key is not just to set high goals for how customers are treated, but to hold workers accountable on a daily basis.
"To initiate and follow through on the platform every day with every person and every situation is the tough part," McKamey said.
ERMC, Mountain View Ford Lincoln, The Cleaning Authority and Brody Jewelers earned honorable mentions, with the Mountain Education Foundation winning honorable mention for the nonprofit category. Most leaders credited their employees with following through on the vision set down from the executive team, and their customers for supporting their efforts.
"We build our business one customer at a time," said Clay Watson, president of Mountain View Ford Lincoln.
Emerson Russell, founder of ERMC, said the key to customer happiness is working with the company's 6,600 employees in 46 states to deliver on Russell's promises.
"It's not the big things that we do each and every day, be at work, home, church or wherever," Russell said. "It's all of the little things that we do, good or bad, that add up to make the real difference."
Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at 423-757-6315 or firstname.lastname@example.org with tips and documents.