Arlington VA – The 2011 BBB International Torch Awards will be presented by the Council of Better Business Bureaus to recognize three companies and two individuals that have exemplified BBB’s mission to advance trust in the marketplace between businesses and consumers. The Award recipients are: Investor Protection Trust President and CEO Don Blandin, Outback Steakhouse, USAA, CustomInk.com, former Kellogg Company CEO David Mackay, and Lex Brodie’s Tire Company.
The awards will be presented during a celebration on the evening of March 22, 2011 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals, SOCAP International, is joining with BBB for the first time this year to present two new awards for customer care.
This year’s Torch Awards theme – 'a salute to our troops and their families’ – promotes the BBB Military Line Program, which makes a difference in the lives of thousands of military families by providing financial education and support services to address the specific financial concerns they face. Many of the award recipients are being honored especially for products or programs that benefit the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families.
“The International Torch Awards is one of the most important programs we do each year,” said CBBB President and CEO Stephen A. Cox in announcing this year’s honorees. “BBB sets standards to make trust a fundamental component of the American marketplace, but these folks are out there every day making it happen. In difficult financial times such as what we have experienced the last several years, it is especially important to celebrate the people and the companies that are doing it right, companies that don’t take short-cuts that have made trust the cornerstone of their businesses.”
About the Honorees
Don Blandin, President and CEO of Investor Protection Trust (IPT) located in Washington, DC, will receive the Torch Award for Consumer Leadership, given to “a leader who has significantly advanced marketplace trust through consumer advocacy, protection or education, or through a specific action or lifetime achievement.” Blandin is being recognized especially for his demonstrated skill, commitment and passion for financial education and protection for consumers of all ages. As president of IPT, he has developed and sponsored numerous programs that have helped Americans become wise and safe investors, including, sponsorship of the “Personal Finance Guide for Military Families;” the recent development of the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program, in partnership with North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA); the Investor Education in Your Community® program; the national MoneyTrack public television series; The Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing® in partnership with the AARP Foundation, and “The Basics of Saving and Investing: Investor Education 2020.”
Outback Steakhouse, owned and operated by OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC and headquartered in Tampa, FL, will receive the Torch Award for Advancing Marketplace Trust, which is given to a business that has “set significant new standards of excellence impacting trust in the marketplace through innovative voluntary actions, programs, or sustainment activities.” Outback is being recognized in particular for Operation Feeding Freedom, an annual mission that sends teams of employee volunteers overseas to boost morale and to provide specialty dishes to military personnel. Since 2002, more than 150 volunteers have traveled to nine countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, and even to the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, to serve “a taste of home” to 167,000 troops. Outback also supports Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization that provides every day and emergency support for active troops, veterans, and their families, through its annual Thanks for Giving program.
USAA, located in San Antonio, TX, is being presented the BBB President Award, for “sustained superior performance that fundamentally changed the marketplace, and shaped the definition and expectation of trust for all marketplace participants.” USAA is committed to facilitating financial security for military personnel, their families and veterans with a full range of competitive financial services. Its 8 million members rely on the company’s focus on conservative financial management, investment in employees and stellar customer service, earning it a 97% member satisfaction rate. USAA’s innovative services include mobile applications that allow service members to do their banking from anywhere in the world, on land or sea. Among its many awards, MSN Money ranked USAA as the No. 1 company in its Customer Service Hall of Fame. The company encourages volunteerism among its employees, makes major corporate donations to charitable causes through its foundation, and recently partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project to raise awareness and help provide funding for the needs of severely injured service men and women.
CustomInk.com, the design-online t-shirt company for groups and occasions, will receive the Torch Award for Marketplace Excellence, given to a business that demonstrates “superior commitment to exceptional standards that benefit its customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and surrounding communities.” CustomInk has developed an enduring character that focuses on customer service, integrity and social responsibility. They stream all customer feedback, uncensored, in real-time on their website. They fix printing errors for free, even if the customer made the typo. When they get a cause-related order such as from a charity walk team, they make a donation (which adds up to more than $50,000 each year).
They invest in their team, too, with equity options and the Inkademy Awards for those who best demonstrate their core values. Based in McLean, VA, CustomInk has been named a “great place to work” by Washingtonian Magazine and Entrepreneur.com.
Three additional businesses in the Marketplace Excellence competition were named Finalists:
- ACME Locksmith located in Mesa, AZ, for exceeding the expectations of its customers and providing quality products and services;
- AT&T located in Dallas, TX for consistently providing innovative, reliable, high-quality products and services and excellent customer care; and
- The Greentree Group headquartered in Beavercreek, OH, for providing exceptional services to its clients and creating a work environment where each employee is treated with dignity and respect.
SOCAP International will present the two new customer care awards. “SOCAP International is thrilled to honor David Mackay of Kellogg Company and Lex Brodie’s Tire Company for their outstanding commitment to advancing the customer care function,” said Matthew D’Uva, SOCAP’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The contributions from these winners clearly demonstrate that great customer care starts at the top and can be an integral part of a company culture that maintains an unwavering focus on making the consumer the number one priority.”
David Mackay, the retiring CEO of the Kellogg Company, was the unanimous choice of SOCAP’s selection committee to receive the first Leader in Customer Care Award, given to an individual “who has been a champion for the customer and the customer care function within their respective business or across an industry.” During his tenure at Kellogg, Mackay furthered the company’s commitment to customer care and responsiveness to consumers, and exhibited a passion for food safety and nutrition issues. As founding chairman of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a CEO-led initiative, he helped recruit more than 100 companies, non-profit organizations, and individuals to join together with First Lady Michelle Obama and others to help fight childhood obesity. Kellogg also joined with BBB and nine other food and beverage companies to launch the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative aimed at repositioning advertising messages aimed at children to encourage healthier dietary choices and lifestyles.
Lex Brodie’s Tire Company, located in Honolulu, Hawaii is being presented the first Excellence in Customer Care Award, given to a business in recognition of its commitment to exceptional customer care and ability to improve and modernize its service. With 49 years of dedication to delivering total customer satisfaction, Lex Brodie’s Tire Company is synonymous with customer service in Hawaii. The company’s commitment to outstanding customer service is demonstrated through its Customer Bill of Rights and through a top-down approach to service that extends from senior management to entry-level employees. This approach not only includes making customer service the cornerstone of business for Lex Brodie’s Tire Company, but also empowers employees to do whatever it takes within reason to address customers’ needs. The company sponsors several award programs in support of local schools and the military. In 2010, the company was selected the winner of the BBB Torch Awards for Medium-Sized Businesses by Hawaii’s BBB.
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Reporters: for more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, contact Sheila Adkins at 703-247-9312.
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 65 million consumers rely on BBB Reliability Reports® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit www.bbb.org/us for more information. For more information about the Torch Awards visit http://www.bbb.org/international-torch-awards.
About SOCAP International
Founded in 1973, SOCAP International represents a thriving global profession of best-in-class customer care experts across all industries.