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The 2019 Torch Award Winners and honorable mentionees take a picture with the Better Business Bureau President Jim Winsett at the organization's annual meeting Wednesday. There were 15 businesses nominated for the award this year. / Staff photo by Allison Shirk Collins
some text The Student of Integrity Award winners for 2019 pose for a picture on stage at the Better Business Bureau's annual meeting Wednesday. This was the first year the Student of Integrity scholarship program awarded 11 students each with a $1,000 scholarship. This year, 135 students entered the competition. / Staff photo by Allison Shirk Collins

The Better Business Bureau of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia presented the organization's annual Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics and Student of Integrity scholarship winners Wednesday with the overarching message from winners and speakers being to "always do the right thing."

The BBB's annual meeting highlighted both for-profit and nonprofit businesses in the 21 counties the local BBB serves which operate in an ethical manner and provide great service.

2019 Torch Award Winners for marketplace ethics:

Category 1, 1-10 employees

Honorable mention: Twicks Construction

Winner: Top This Construction

Category 2, 11-49 employees

Honorable mention: COS Business Products

Winner: Johnson Audiology

Category 3, 51-99 employees

Honorable mention: FreightWaves

Winner: Armstrong Transfer & Storage

Category 4, up to 499 employees

Winner: Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union

Category 5, 500 or more employees

Winner: Five Star Food Service

Nonprofit

Honorable mention: Welcome Home Chattanooga

Winner: Chattanooga Room in the Inn

There were 15 nominations for the Torch Awards in several different categories, but only six companies took home Torch Awards Wednesday, including Top This Construction, Johnson Audiology, Armstrong Transfer & Storage, Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, Five Star Food Service and Chattanooga Room in the Inn, which was the nonprofit winner that provides temporary housing and resources for homeless mothers and their children.

some text Greg McCall, chief revenue officer for Five Star Food Service, accepted the company's 2019 Torch Award for a company with over 500 employees. The company has roughly 1,500 employees and was the largest to win an award at the Better Business Bureau's annual meeting Wednesday at the Chattanooga Convention Center. / Staff photo by Allison Shirk Collins

Twicks Construction, Freightwaves, COS Business Products and Welcome Home Chattanooga, which is one of only two hospice homes in the state of Tennessee, all earned honorable mention in their respective categories.

Michael Clayton, business speaker and "Ambassador of Trust" who ran the BBB in southeast Texas for 15 years, gave the keynote for the event, stating it's important for business owners to not only be trustworthy but to be consistently trustworthy for customers and clients.

"If you want to build trust as some of our recipients said today always, always do the right thing," Clayton said.

Greg McCall accepted the Torch Award for Five Star Food Service, the largest business to win Thursday.

Five Star Food Service is one of the nation's largest on-site food and beverage service providers, providing clients with self-checkout, retail markets; full-line vending; coffee service; pantry service; sustainable products; water (filtered and bottled) service, catering and corporate food service, according to their website.

Student of Integrity award winners:

Brooke Taren Appelbaum, Trion High School

Rafael Avila, Southeast Whitfield High School

Adison Melia Baker, Central High School of McMinn County

Eli Nicholas Brock, Armuchee High School

Catherin G. Chimley, Signal Mountain Middle/High School

Hannah Hawkins, Walker Valley High School

Lindsey Murphy Hollis, Signal Mountain Middle/High School

Anna Grace Jackson, Walker Valley High School

Emma Catherin Sneed, Soddy Daisy High School

Alexandria Michelle Spence, Lookout Valley High School

Caleb Alexander Veitch, Chattooga High School

"Trust is such an important component of dealing with customers," he said. "We are highly customer focused, and without trust and without integrity and ethics, you really don't have a true relationship with that customer."

Five Star serves companies across the Southeast, including Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and North Carolina with their headquarters located in Chattanooga.

McCall said the company has been around for 25 years, but in the last two years, the company created a nonprofit organization called "Feeding the Future." Through the nonprofit, the company has provided anywhere from $100,000-$200,000 a year to feed hungry children in the local community by partnering with local food banks and other programs.

"Our [President and CEO] Alan Recher has always taught us that you have to treat the customer right and always do the right thing, and that goes all the way down through every level of our organization," McCall said.

This was the first year the Student of Integrity scholarship program awarded 11 students each with a $1,000 scholarship. This year, 135 students entered the competition.

Eight out of the 11 awarded scholarships were female with two being from Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Catherine G. Chimley and Lindsey Murphy Hollis, and one was from Lookout Valley High School, Alexandria Michelle Spence.

Contact staff writer Allison Shirk Collins at ashirk@timesfreepress.com, @AllisonSCollins or 423-757-6651.

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