The Starr Group Wins 2017 Torch Award for Ethics

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On May 18, the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin held its annual luncheon honoring 2017 Torch Award winners. This year’s theme was “Light the Future” and was held at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Attendees networked with fellow award recipients before lunch and were welcomed by Master of Ceremonies Kate Chappell, evening anchor and reporter at CBS 58.

The Keynote Address “Values: The Constant Amid Change” was given by Helen Johnson-Leipold, Chairman and CEO of Johnson Outdoors Inc. and Chairman of Johnson Financial Group. Ms. Johnson-Leipold is 5th generation of the Johnson family, well-known in Wisconsin for its flagship cleaning supplies. “Statistically, family-owned businesses don’t survive past the 3rd generation,” she said, then cited reason for the Johnson family of businesses longevity as the ability to expand and adapt to the changing customer needs. She shared a video of her late father -- giving him the “last word” – where he spoke about his grandfather’s vision for the company. In essence, the founder’s underlying focus of all business decisions was the foundation of valuing customers, community and employees. That focus still exists today throughout all the Johnson businesses.

Following the Keynote Address, the recipients of the 2017 Torch Awards in six categories were announced. Runners up and Honorable Mentions were also recognized. Those businesses will have the opportunity to apply for the Torch Award again next year. A 30-second video provided by each Winner was played as they made their way to the stage to accept their award. Mary Starr, Exec VP of The Starr Group, accepted the award on behalf of the agency.

BBB President and CEO, Jim Temmer addressed the attendees. He spoke current consumer trend in which more and more people are patronizing businesses with a demonstrated focus on Green business efforts as well as other socially conscious practices. “This is our future,” he said.

Torch2017 0335The Starr Group has been named a recipient of the prestigious 2017 Torch Award for Ethics in Category II: Businesses with 10 – 50 employees. This is the second time the agency has earned this honor, winning their first award in 2011. Although the award is given each year, the BBB allows winners to apply every 6 years.

Just what goes into the application process? Preparation begins in the Fall with the deadline for submission in early Spring. Businesses must submit evidence of their outstanding business ethics, including instances of corrective measures taken in the face of negative customer feedback. The entire application process is meant for business owners, managers and staff to re-evaluate how they do business and consider what they can do to better serve customers and strengthen employee culture.

Mary Starr spearheaded this year's application efforts with a special committee to review each of the Required Criteria set forth by the BBB. Reviewing changes and events over the past 4 years, the group met once a month, gathering documentation and writing new policies while updating old ones. Mary spent many late nights writing and carefully editing her answers to the questions on the application. "Because the application had to be submitted online this year," Mary said, "There was a limited amount of characters to be used as well as the number of supporting documents to be attached." It was by all accounts a daunting process, but one that was well worthwhile.

"We have won many awards over the years," Mary said with tears in her eyes, "but the BBB Torch Award is the highest, most important honor we can receive!" The win goes beyond the agency's name on a trophy. "It makes us take a really candid look at our business operations," Mary continued, "It makes us ask the question: what can we do better?" Just as The Starr Group hopes to inspire other businesses toward better culture, the agency looks to other businesses that have received the award for best practice ideas.

During the self-evaluation, The Starr Group has reviewed its long-standing “Claim Promise” and “Commitment to Customer” policies. The agency has created a third document “Customer Rights and Responsibilities” to clarify how we build our Customer-Agency relationships. Those documents can be found on our website.

As a 2017 Torch Award winner, The Starr Group created a 30-second “Time to Shine” video to share at the Torch Awards Banquet. Several members of the staff from Customer Service to Sales Producers volunteered for cameo appearances in the quick promo. The video presents a glimpse of our Vision and Values: I-PREACH. The acronym stands for Integrity, Passion, Respect, Excellence, Acknowledgement, Communication, and Health & Wellness. Each of these values is encouraged among employees on a daily basis. You can learn more about each of these values on our website. A longer version of the video has been posted on the Video page of our website.

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Mary Starr is quick to credit the entire Starr Group staff for this win. "Without the great people who work here, those who are on board with our efforts and embody what we are trying to do here... we would not have won this honor." Thank you and congratulations to our staff!

Congratulations to the rest of the 2017 Torch Award Winners: Category I – PuroClean; Category III – WeatherTight; Category IV – Dave Jones; Category V – Oshkosh; Non-Profit – Pepp Nation.

Congratulations to the Runners up: Category II – Allright Home and Remodelling; Category III – LSM Chiropractic; Category IV – Tundraland.com; Category V – Festival Foods; Non-Profit – ECE.

Congratulations to Honorable Mentions: Category 1 – Financial Strategies, Inc.; Category II – Collins State Bank; Category III – Benedict Refrigeration Service, Inc.; Category IV – Graef; Category V – Charter; Non-Profit – Kandu.

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