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, BBB staff and our almost 3,200 local Accredited Businesses, it is a privilege to recognize the companies listed as winners and runner-up as receiving the 2012 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. The businesses selected to receive this year's prestigious award are: AquaGuard Systems, Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA; and Energy Swing Windows of Murrysville, PA.
There was one company who was selected to receive runner-up distinction: Baker's Waterproofing & Foundation Repair of Bentleyville, PA.
About the Winners:
Founded in 1991, AquaGuard Systems, Inc. is one of Pittsburgh’s and Western Pennsylvania's leading basement waterproofing and foundation repair specialists, providing customers with the best possible services at affordable rates. Experienced representatives take time to inspect and evaluate the issues causing your problems and design solutions which best fit customer needs.
In addition to basement waterproofing and foundation repair, AquaGuard Systems, Inc. also offers a wide variety of structural repair options including beams, wall anchors and foundation reconstruction. AquaGuard Systems, Inc. deploys specialized teams for every facet of its work. This can include: interior and exterior waterproofing, foundation repair, wall stabilization, structural & masonry repair, custom yard drainage systems, specialty wall coatings and total foundation reconstruction.
AquaGuard Systems, Inc. has earned its reputation over the years by offering high quality craftsmanship with a willingness to stand behind its work and warranties. To remain innovative and effective in its field, AquaGuard Systems, Inc. consistently improves on its methods and updates its equipment.
The company states that it is fully insured and 100% committed to offering top quality at a competitive rate, by offering free inspections, free lifetime transferable warranties based on type of work, free estimates for property owners and implementation of proven methods and technology to customers. From private residential work to large commercial projects, every job is important to AquaGuard Systems, Inc. and the company’s number one priority is providing superior customer service.
AquaGuard Systems, Inc. is proud of the service awards and third party ratings it has received over the years and firmly believes that without the dedication and expertise of its employees, awards and accomplishments such as achieving an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List, being named a winner of the 2008 and 2012 Western Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics and being named winner of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Angie’s List Super Service Award would not be possible. AquaGuard Systems, Inc. is also proud to be affiliated with Howard Hanna’s Retail Alliance Program, as well as having been a contributor to the North Shore Connector Project.
Tom Gallagher is the President of AquaGuard Systems, Inc. and has been involved in the basement waterproofing and foundation repair industry for 24 years. Tom Graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing.
According to Torch Award judge, Dr. Jim Weber, “AquaGuard’s clear and explicit emphasis on ethics is evident in the company’s Code of Ethics and in its business dealings with employees, customers and other stakeholders. AquaGuard anticipates ethical issues, such as identity theft and the need for increased protection of personal information, showing a strong ethical foresight. The strong commitment to the community demonstrated through AquaGuard’s many socially responsible programs – such as Toys for Tots, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, and the H.O.P.E. Golf Classic – are commendable, but the employee involvement in these programs made these efforts outstanding examples of ethical behavior by a company.”
“AquaGuard Systems is honored and humbled to once again be recognized by the Better Business Bureau and to receive the prestigious 2012 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. To receive this award validates our commitment to providing superior customer service. AquaGuard Systems has an unsurpassed reputation earned over years of offering the highest quality craftsmanship with a willingness to stand behind its work and warranties. We strive to be the most innovative and stay effective in our field by consistently improving on our methods and by implementing cutting edge equipment and technology. AquaGuard and its employees would like to thank the Better Business Bureau for its recognition and the opportunities this award has presented to us,” says Tom Gallagher.
The core business philosophy at Energy Swing Windows is “Do the right thing,” a philosophy that encompasses all aspects of the business. Energy Swing Windows is committed to doing the right thing not only for its clients and employees, but for the local community too. The company strives to improve the lives of its clients by providing them with the right products and the right installation to meet their individual home improvement needs.
Energy Swing Windows is unique in the market because the company has total control of the entire project. They market, sell, manufacture and install their own unique patented window designs at their plant in Murrysville. The idea for Energy Swing Window’s patented swing window came from company founder, Steve Rennekamp. Steve, who used to who work for Alcoa, has more than 45 years of window testing and design experience, including helping to develop many of the window energy standards that are still used in the industry today.
Steve saw many flaws in the windows that were on the market. While “tilt-in” windows are good in theory, many of them are too big and too heavy for an average-sized woman or older person to handle. Meanwhile, the weather stripping on tilt windows was heavily dependent on perfect installation. Steve looked at windows from the customers’ perspective and wondered “what would be the easiest way to access the outside of a window for cleaning?” The answer was clear — make the window swing open like a door, making it the easiest to clean window on the market. After all the design and testing work was completed, Rennekamp’s stepson, Don Darragh, began to market the window. Darragh started the company in his parents’ basement and was involved in every step of the home improvement process, from meeting with clients and selling the window, to even installing it in the home himself.
Unfortunately, the home improvement industry is fraught with complaints and questionable business dealings. Even though someone lives in a house, they generally “don’t know what they don’t know” when it comes to having work done on their home. This is not surprising. Most homeowners only do these types of projects a few times in their lives, so it is not surprising that they don’t fully understand things related to their projects such as insurance, long term product performance, installation quality and warranties, just to name a few things.
Energy Swing Windows sets itself apart from the competition by emphasizing consumer education for anyone who is considering remodeling their home. The company believes that education goes a long way in preventing the major regrets that many homeowners experience because their project did not go as expected. One way Energy Swing Windows does this is to offer any homeowner the free guidebook entitled “The Contractor Code of Ethics and Competency Handbook: How to Choose the Right Contractor Now and Avoid Major Regrets Later”. Additionally, their website features answers to over 100 frequently asked questions about windows and doors, and they even have a YouTube channel that consumers can utilize to educate themselves on how to prevent the common mistakes that homeowners make during their projects. Energy Swing Windows also developed a consumer seminar which conveys “How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off When Your Home Gets Remodeled”. This seminar can be found on their website. These are just a few of the reasons that Energy Swing Windows boasts a 98.6% customer satisfaction rating.
While Energy Swing Windows is known for the marketing, sales, manufacturing and installation of their unique window designs, they have responded to customer requests and now offer high quality roofing and siding work. To make sure they deliver value and a great experience to their clients, Energy Swing Windows holds bi-weekly Total Quality Meetings attended by every employee in the company. At this meeting, every job completed in the last two weeks is thoroughly reviewed. Every employee understands that their opinions have value and feels they have the freedom to speak up when something is wrong or can be improved upon. These meetings are also the used to communicate to everyone the specifics of what is happening in the different parts of the company.
Located on Route 22, Energy Swing Windows is the recipient of numerous customer satisfaction and business awards, including the 2011 Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year, the Certified Contractors Network’s 2011 Company of the Year and has been named as one of the country’s Big 50 contractors by Remodeling Magazine. Additionally, Energy Swing Windows offers a real lifetime warranty that covers both product and installation defects. They can offer an installation warranty because they install their windows using their own employee installers, rather than relying on subcontractors.
Torch Award judge, Dr. Virginia Gerde states, "Energy Swing's commitment to ethical business shows in their code of ethics and their actions with employees, customers, and suppliers. They view themselves as part of the larger community and are committed to quality work for the long term. Energy Swing educates customers, even if it means a loss for them. From quality work for their clients to volunteering in the community, Energy Swing employees focus on building relationships that make a difference.”
Steve Rennekamp, founder and President of Energy Swing Windows had the following to say about winning the 2012 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics: “I am extremely proud to receive this honor for a second time – not because of the recognition, which is nice, but more so because it is a reflection that we must be doing the right things, in the right way for our clients. We have a team that delivers because they recognize and strive to provide real value. The recognition that means the most to us is what our clients say about us. We deliver what we say—and then some. Everyone in the company understands our culture of always working to do the right thing.”
About the Runner-Up:
Since 1975, Baker's Waterproofing Co. has solved thousands of basement seepage and foundation repair problems throughout the Tri-State area. In the last 37 years, Baker's Waterproofing has grown to be one of the largest waterproofing and foundation repair companies in the entire country. In fact, the company has repaired over 16,000 basements and fixes nearly 20 homes every week. Many of Baker’s Waterproofing’s repair methods are patented and not available from other contractors.
Baker’s Waterproofing’s association with industry leaders, Basement Systems, Inc. in Seymour, Connecticut and Foundation Supportworks in Omaha, Nebraska has led to development of one of the most unique and effective methods of solving foundation and basement waterproofing problems available anywhere in the world. Baker’s Waterproofing offers solutions for wet basements and crawlspaces and the company also manages typical foundation issues including, but not limited to bowed walls, foundation settlement and mine subsidence.
Baker’s Waterproofing operates out of a 12,000 square foot office/warehouse facility located on Carlton Drive in Bentleyville, PA. From this location, the company services about a 100-mile radius, which leads into West Virginia, Eastern Ohio and most of Western Pennsylvania. Baker’s Waterproofing’s office personnel, service advisers, foremen, installers and managers are all trained and qualified professionals ready to serve.
In early 2012, Tim Baker passed the torch on to his son Brian, who assumed the role of President and Owner of Baker's Waterproofing. Over the past 25+ years, Brian has played a major role in the growth and success of the company. Being the son of the founder, Brian started working during summers as an installation helper at the young age of 13. Gaining experience each summer, he became valuable to the company. After his graduation from The University of Pittsburgh, he came to work at Baker's Waterproofing full time. Production, sales and management experience, as well as advanced training received at Basement Systems, Inc. in Connecticut and Foundation Supportworks in Nebraska, makes Brian uniquely qualified to run all components of Baker’s Waterproofing’s operation.
Brian’s knowledge and dedication to customer satisfaction allows him to train and lead the staff. His focus on successful home repair solutions, along with the ethical and fair treatment of customers is the foundation for the company. Over the past 15 years, Baker’s Waterproofing has refined much of what it does. Be it products, process or operations, one constant has been to meet and exceed customers’ expectations. Today, Baker’s Waterproofing still looks to provide great solutions for homeowners. The company knows that finding a responsible and trustworthy contractor is challenging. By adhering to simple guidelines of respect, integrity, open communication and responsibility, Baker’s Waterproofing arrives on time for scheduled appointments, follows through with promises and stands behind all warranties.
Torch Award judge, Dr. Jim Weber states, “Baker’s Waterproofing’s commitment to ethics starts with its mission statement and is the foundation for how the company interacts with all of its stakeholders. At the core of this family-run company is the organization’s reputation; a strong ethical focus that enables Baker’s to ethically engage with its customers. Likewise, Torch Award judge, Dr. Faith Bjalobok notes, “Baker’s seems to truly demonstrate a solid commitment to the community that they serve.”
“Being selected as the Runner-Up for the Better Business Bureau Torch Award is truly an honor,” says Brian Baker. “I know there are many good companies, so getting recognized as one of the most ethical in our half of the state is quite humbling. We have great people working at our company and I am so thankful for them. Don’t believe folks that say there are no good hard working people anymore. They are out there and I believe it is the responsibility of the ownership to find, recruit and retain these quality people. Tim Baker (my Dad) was the owner for the first 37 years of our company and has always been known for his honesty and ethical ways. I dedicate myself to follow in his footsteps. I want to relay a special thank you to the Better Business Bureau for selecting us as a Torch Award recipient for the fourth time. Baker’s has great respect for all the hard work the BBB does for Pennsylvania’s consumers.”