The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to promote, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct; and to instill public confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, protect and assist the general public. In this spirit, the Better Business Bureau conducts an annual award program to gain public recognition for companies that maintain a solid commitment to conducting their business practices in an ethical manner. Each year, companies of different sizes are selected from 28 counties in western Pennsylvania to receive the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.
On behalf of the local BBB Board of Directors, the independent panel of judges, the BBB staff and our over 2,800 local Accredited Businesses, it is a privilege to recognize the companies listed as winners and runner-ups as receiving the 2008 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. The businesses selected to receive this year's prestigious award are: AquaGuard Systems Inc., Pittsburgh, PA; Energy Swing Windows, Inc., Murrysville, PA; and NexTier Bank, Butler, PA.
There were two companies who received runner-up distinction: “A Better Choice” Inc., North Huntingdon, PA and Burns & Scalo, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA.
About the Winners:
AquaGuard Systems, Inc.
AquaGuard Systems, Inc. was founded in 1991. Tom Gallagher is the President and has been involved in the basement waterproofing and foundation repair industry for 21 years. Tom graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing.
AquaGuard has been a leader in the waterproofing industry and has developed into one of the area’s most highly regarded full-scale residential and commercial foundation repair and renovation companies. Their reputation has been enhanced by their good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Also, AquaGuard is proud to be affiliated with Howard Hanna’s Retail Alliance Program as well as having been a contributor to the North Shore Connector project.
Their philosophy is to provide exceptional customer service and quality workmanship at a fair price. AquaGuard always strives to maintain credibility with hard work, integrity and to exceed the expectations of their customers. They are proud of their quality workmanship.
“Beyond quality workmanship and customer service, AquaGuard practices fairness, reliability, and communication to maintain an ethical climate. Their code of ethics and employee handbook encourage informed and ethical decision-making and emphasize respect for others throughout,” states Dr. Virginia Verde, Director of the Beard Center for Leadership in Ethics and 2008 Torch Award judge. “They demonstrate that business is not just a way to make money or build a customer base for future business, but it is a part of the community with citizenship responsibilities and can forgo near-term growth for stability and development.”
The employees of AquaGuard Systems, Inc. are focused on providing customers with the best possible experience they can achieve. AquaGuard employs positive, enthusiastic people who want to succeed along with the company. The ethical principles that are in place today started when Tom Gallagher founded AquaGuard Systems, Inc. vowing to provide Western Pennsylvania with one of the finest waterproofing companies in the industry.
Because AquaGuard is a family oriented business, it is extremely important to maintain the continuity from employer, to employee, to customer. They are one, working together. That deep level of respect and dedicated commitment to the company and to the customer has promoted self awareness to maintain the highest level of ethical values.
“AquaGuard’s commitment to the customer is displayed in their core values recognizing that people are not just a job to pay bills but rather human beings with feelings. They show respect for the rights of others and being courteous at all times reinforces their belief that the customer is their #1 priority,” states Warren King, President of the BBB.
“We are truly honored and humbled to have received the 2008 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. To receive this award validates our commitment to providing superior customer service. It is a privilege for us to be invited into a customer’s home. We are representatives of the community and with that privilege comes responsibility to conduct oneself with the highest ethical standards. These behaviors include, but are not limited to, treating customers the way you would want to be treated, giving customers a fair and honest price for work to be performed, and providing quality workmanship. These tenets are the three most important rules governing our business practices,” states Tom Gallagher.
Energy Swing Windows, Inc.
The mission statement for Energy Swing Windows is rooted in doing the right thing for their clients, employees, and the community alike. They are in business to improve the lives of their clients by working with them to solve their individual needs while providing them with high quality products. Their philosophy has remained constant during the last 12 years that Energy Swing Windows have been selling their unique products.
Consumer education is the foundation of their business. Most people don't have a lot of experience with purchasing windows. From the educational DVD they offer on investing in new windows to the entire consultative hand holding done through every step of the process, everyone in the organization is constantly focused on delivering the right job.
“The leadership at Energy Swing Windows understands that customers are important as people, not merely a means to the end of profitability. They bring professionalism to the forefront of their business practices and involve their employees in the ethics espoused by their management team. Ethics is further demonstrated by educating their prospective customers,” states Dr. Jim Weber, Professor of Business Ethics and Management at Duquesne University and one of the Torch Award judges.
The initial business concept came about years ago when the owner, Steve Rennekamp, developed and patented a line of totally different windows that swing-in like a door. The design was developed with the customer in mind, providing them with the ability to easily clean their windows from inside the house. The windows are also more energy-efficient and have a warranty lasting as long as the owner resides in and owns their home.
After the design was put into place, it was up to co-owner Don Darragh to get the windows out into the market. Mr. Darragh started the business out of his parents' basement, selling and installing every window himself. He began to build a client base, and with that, a reputation. Over the years, they have built Energy Swing Windows into an established family owned company that people rely on for their home improvement projects.
Accountability can't happen overnight, and it is something that Energy Swing Windows strives for in everything they do. Unlike most other window companies, they have total control of the process from beginning to end. They market, sell, manufacture and install all windows with their own employees. Weekly Client Review meetings are held to focus on new clients. Evaluating the total client experience of each project is done at bi-weekly TQM meetings, attended by all employees. Improving every aspect of the client experience is a constant, never-ending job. Doing things right requires continual customer-focused employee training, which has enabled Energy Swing to also win numerous national industry awards for customer satisfaction.
“It’s clear from Energy Swing Windows’ values that their daily operations are guided by the premise of what is the right thing to do for their clients, employees and suppliers and has a direct correlation on their continued success as a leader in the industry,” states Warren King, President of the BBB.
Mr. Darragh had this to say about winning the Torch Award:"The description of the qualities and guidelines that must be present in a company to be considered as a winner of the Torch Award is exactly the premise on which our company has rooted itself. Energy Swing Windows focuses more than 100 percent on customer relationships. We build our business one customer at a time, which is why 70% of our business comes from repeats and referrals. The fact that we have been recognized for all of the time and consideration we have put into this business makes it all worth it. We are absolutely thrilled to be a recipient of this award."
NexTier Bank has a rich history and tradition, and the safety, soundness and community involvement of NexTier have spanned more than 12 decades. Founded in 1878, NexTier is in its fourth generation of leadership by the Irvine family and its current leaders continue to carry out the mission of the bank’s founders. Today, S J. Irvine III is Chairman of the Board, Margaret Irvine Weir is President, and Donald Shamey is Chief Executive Officer. NexTier has 300 employees, 16 community offices, $500 million in assets, and serves the western Pennsylvania region with corporate offices in Butler and Wexford.
NexTier is proud to have reached its 130-year anniversary milestone in 2008. NexTier provides business and consumer financial solutions and is unique because it offers not only traditional banking services, but a cash department, trust department, commercial lending, mortgage services, NexTier Insurance Services, the Family Business Center at NexTier, NexTier Wealth Management, NexTier Armored Services, and Radnor Trust.
“NexTier Bank’s ethics excellence is seen in the extensive training and involvement of their employees to ensure customer satisfaction and service to the community. All stakeholders – employees, customers, and vendors – are included as important to the organization and in its decision making,” states Dr. Jim Weber, Professor of Business Ethics and Management at Duquesne University. “NexTier and its employees are devoted to building strong communities, improving quality of life, and making a positive difference where they live and work.”
S.J. Irvine, Sr. founded NexTier, previously named Citizens National Bank, because of a great need to protect and access cash when Evansburg (now Evans City) became an oil boomtown. The bank received a state charter in 1893 and its national charter in 1907. Through the market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, Citizens continued to operate while many of the nation’s banks collapsed. In 1940, S.J. Irvine, Jr. succeeded his father as president. The third generation of the Irvine family, S.J. Irvine III (“Buzz”) began his career as bank president in 1956 and began a progressive expansion program in 1959. In 2000, his daughter, Margaret Irvine Weir, became the fourth generation to lead the bank as president.
“NexTier’s dedicated commitment to the communities they serve begins with the Board of Directors and is practiced by their associates which is vital to their 130 year success story. They recognize that their continued success depends on the well-being of the communities they serve and in which they live,” states Warren King, President of the BBB.
On October 11, 2005, a new name and tagline, NexTier Bank, Experience the Next Level, was chosen to position the enterprise for the future and reflect the organization’s strategic direction.
“When my great-grandfather founded the bank 130 years ago, we were known as the Bank Built on a Handshake. I’m extremely proud that we’ve received this award so many decades later since it means we’ve upheld our original values of integrity and honorable business practices. It also means that our customers, communities, associates and vendors can count on us as much today and tomorrow as they have in the past,” states Margaret Irvine Weir, President of NexTier Bank.
About the Runner-ups:
“A Better Choice” Inc.
“A Better Choice” Inc. is a family owned corporation and has been conducting business in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia since 1997. They specialize in Basement Waterproofing, Foundation Repair, Game Room Finishing Systems and exclusive PG2K custom coatings.
The crews are in house employees and no sub contractors are utilized. There are currently five Inspectors that have been trained and certified to give on site free estimates to homeowners, realtors and commercial accounts.
“A Better Choice” Inc. is insured and bondable. They have successfully completed projects for the Greensburg County Courthouse, Pittsburgh Housing Authority, Catholic Diocese, Ryan Homes, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), University of Indiana, Sunoco Corp., Salvation Army, American Legion, US Department of Energy and over 10,000 residential properties. Historic Preservation is a growing industry. “A Better Choice” Inc. has been a pioneer in developing state of the art systems for foundation repair with historically approved methods. They completed a project for the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) located in Mt. Pleasant, PA. They waterproofed the basement, and stabilized and coated the stone walls of the 100 year old building to a pristine and dry basement.
“A Better Choice” Inc. is a proud member of the National Association of Waterproofing and Structural Repair Contractors (NAWSRC) and is committed to conducting business according to the organizations Business Standards and Ethics and has agreed to treat customers ethically and to use quality products.
“A Better Choice stands out for its adherence to a national association code of ethics, the level of employee training, and the integration of value throughout their firm. They have the formal policies and procedures as well as communication practices to assure ethical decision making and ethical behavior. Their personnel policies (and actions) and their communications with customers exemplify the commitment needed to run an ethical business,” states Dr. Virginia Gerde, a Torch Award judge and Director of the Beard Center for Leadership in Ethics. “Their application demonstrated a willingness to make the ‘hard decisions’ where personal relationships or quest for profit came into conflict with the firm’s values. Not only did they show they had ethical practices, but also the courage to address unethical actions.”
“Equally impressive is A Better Choice’s commitment to helping those that are in need and giving back to the community,” states Warren King, President of the BBB. “Their dedication to the growth and progress of the community is another core value which demonstrates their strong belief in doing what is ethical in the marketplace.”
“One Team, One Direction is our company motto,” states Richard Pack, President of “A Better Choice” Inc. “We all work together to satisfy our customers requests, needs, and many times, strong demands. We take great pride in our quality of workmanship and customer satisfaction. We are honored to be selected by the BBB and judges for the prestigious honor of Runner Up for the 2008 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics and pledge to continue ethical behavior to our trusted customers.”
Burns & Scalo
The Burns & Scalo partnership began over five decades ago in 1956, when John T. Scalo and Richard “Duke” Burns shared a common vision: to be the very best at whatever they did. Beginning as a two-man residential roofing company, Burns & Scalo quickly grew into a successful operation comprised of several employees and an expanding fleet of vehicles and equipment.
As the company prospered, the partners began to invest in real estate beginning with small, single-and-double-unit apartment buildings. Realizing the potential growth of both the roofing business and real estate enterprise, two distinct corporate entities were formed: Burns & Scalo Roofing Company and Burns & Scalo Real Estate Services. These two highly successful companies were eventually turned over to second-generation twin brothers, Jack & Jim Scalo.
Both sons had been actively involved in the companies during their high school and college years, learning the businesses from the ground up. By the time they joined the companies on a full-time basis, the twins were already seasoned professionals in their respective operations.
As Dr. James Weber, one of the academic Torch Award judges, points out, Burns & Scalo’s “ethical philosophy is communicated throughout the organization, with a strong family tradition and reliance on professional ethics.”
Today Burns & Scalo has become one of the most respected names regionally and nationally. The brothers are associated at a strategic and investment level with each other’s companies. In 2006, coinciding with the company’s 50th anniversary, Burns & Scalo launched a highly successful co-branding initiative bringing the two companies under one brand.
“In reviewing Burns & Scalo’s application, their ethical principles are demonstrated by their ‘Seven Company Values’ which emphasize integrity, professionalism, continuous improvement, recognizing that the customer comes first and providing opportunities for a better quality of life for staff and family,” states Warren King, President of the BBB.
Under Jack’s leadership, the company has grown ten-fold, creating a multi-faceted organization that serves the commercial and residential markets in nine states from offices in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. This expansion, coupled with the implementation of several innovative training and safety programs has positioned the company as one of the leading, nationally recognized roofing companies in the United States. He is active in several community and charitable organizations including serving as a board member on Catholic Charities and the Young President’s Association.
Jim was recognized for his contributions toward the success of Burns & Scalo Real Estate in 1990 by being named the President of the firm. Today, the firm’s portfolio includes apartment buildings; commercial offices; warehouses and land; storage facilities; residential condominiums and build-to-suit opportunities. He is a former president and board member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and locally as a board member of Junior Achievement and Business Partners Committee of the Auberle Development Corporation.
“Burns & Scalo is honored to receive the Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau. It is a distinct privilege to be acknowledged for this prestigious award and our hope to continue to live up to high standards which the Better Business Bureau represents,” said Jack and Jim Scalo.
About the BBB Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics:
The panel of judges for the 2008 BBB Torch Awards was:
• Dr. Faith Bjalobok received her BA from Chatham College, a MA in Criminology from IUP, and a MA and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Duquesne. She is Fellow of Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She is an adjunct professor of philosophy at Duquesne and also teaches at Chatham University, Waynesburg University and West Virginia University specializing in ethics and applied ethics.
• Dr. Virginia Gerde is an Associate Professor at Duquesne University who teaches business ethics, strategy and sustainability, and information ethics at the undergraduate and graduate level. As the new Director of the Beard Center for Leadership in Ethics, she supports ethics in the business school curriculum and programs promoting integrity and ethics for the business community. She received her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Management and has published research in Business & Society, Business Strategy and the Environment, and Journal of Business Ethics. Her research examines environmental issues, corporate performance, and organization theory.
• Dr. Jim Weber is currently a Professor of Business Ethics and Management and the Senior Fellow and past Director of the Beard Center for Leadership in Ethics at Duquesne University. He received his Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh and M.B.A. from Saint Louis University. With the Beard Center, Dr. Weber is involved in developing ethics training seminars for business and community organizations and forums for discussions of critical ethical issues in business. His research interests include the assessment of values, moral reasoning and ethical behavior on both the individual and organizational levels. He has published numerous manuscripts in various management and business ethics journals and is the co-author of 12th edition of Business and Society: Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy.
The BBB Torch Award program is open to all for-profit companies (accredited and non-accredited businesses) who are located in the 28 county service area of Western Pennsylvania. 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 the 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.
For more information on the 2008 BBB Torch Awards, visit the BBB website.