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Amy Walden / Walden Security photo

Walden Security has won the International Torch Award for Ethics from the Better Business Bureau, becoming the first Tennessee business to be recognized with the top honor among all 102 BBB chapters across North America.

The Chattanooga-based security firm, created in 1990 by U.S. Navy veteran and former Chattanooga police officer Mike Walden and his wife Amy, was recognized for its support of both its employees and the communities where it operates in 28 states.

Walden Security has grown into the sixth-largest contract security services firm in the United States with more than $340 million in annual revenues and over 6,000 employees. It boasts an annual employee turnover rate of just 32%, among the lowest in the industry, and the company contributes to more than 40 nonprofit organizations through both monetary and volunteer help.

"This award makes a powerful statement about the commitment of companies to maintain strong relationships with their employees, and the emphasis they place on exceptional customer service," said Melissa Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust. "By recognizing the exemplary commitment of this select group today, we encourage all businesses and leaders to follow the examples set by our honorees."

Walden attributed the low turnover rate among his employees to both the company's wage and benefit package and the personal and family atmosphere he tries to cultivate in what he says is primarily a relationship business.

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Mike Walden / Walden Security photo

"Once a member of the Walden Security family, employees are recognized and rewarded through various means, including personal letters from the president, cash bonuses and challenge coins, a U.S. military tradition," the International Association of Better Business Bureaus said in its recognition of Walden Security. "All branch and corporate staff, from receptionists to executives, gather at Walden Security's Chattanooga-based headquarters for The Walden Way, a three-day immersive program where leaders from various divisions conduct instructor-led training sessions."

In July, the company received the 2020 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics from the local BBB serving Southeast Tennessee & Northwest Georgia. Jim Winsett, president of the BBB in Chattanooga, praised Walden's "leadership approach to integrity and ethics in all areas of their business. We thought their performance to their customers was just exemplary,' Winsett said.

Walden Security also won the Torch award from the local BBB when it was a much smaller business in 1997.

The BBB contests are judged by independent panels of judges for their leadership commitment to ethical practices; communication of ethical practices; leadership practices to unify the organization; organizational commitment to performance management practices; organizational commitment to ethical human resource practices; and organizational commitment to the community.

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