BBB Columbia’s First TORCH Awards

Last week, BBB Columbia held our very first TORCH Awards ceremony. This is BBB’s big, annual event, held in BBB regions all across the country. In St. Louis, they sell out and have around 500 people in attendance; we did not expect anywhere near that many (considering our population is a tiny fraction of St. Louis’s), but we knew it needed to be a big, successful event as we continue to expand our presence in Mid-Missouri.

The TORCH Awards is such a great event because the focus is on recognizing businesses who display exemplary commitment to integrity and customer service. This was our first event in Columbia, but we had TORCH Award winners the five previous years, chosen and recognized in St. Louis. This was the first year that recipients would be chosen in Columbia and recognized at our own ceremony, here in town. It really was a big deal.

We decided to recognize four businesses, chosen from community nominations. Most TORCH Award ceremonies also choose one or more charities; we decided not to do that this year because ours is still a fairly new region – just six years old – and we are still building our base of Accredited non-profit organizations.

One of my favorite features of the awards is that past winners choose the winners for future years. So, instead of staff or some sort of community committee making the choice, a group of business leaders who uniquely understand and feel the value of the awards do it. Isn’t that cool?

This year, we have such a great group of recipients, ranging from the fairly small to one of the largest businesses accredited by BBB. Our winners this year are Manor Roofing & Restoration; MidwayUSA; Tami R. Benus, CPA; and White Dog Promotions. For those of us in Columbia, these are well known companies who are respected both for the way they conduct business and for the work they do in our community.

Thankfully, the awards luncheon was a huge success and really exemplified the high quality the recipients deserved. The Champagne Ballroom was filled to capacity at a little over 100; the atmosphere and food were incredible; and the program was almost surprisingly enjoyable (it was a pretty standard awards luncheon format, but the pace was good and it seemed like people really enjoyed themselves).

At the luncheon, the thing that really struck me was the emotion I felt from the winners as they accepted their awards. It obviously really meant something to them – accepting an award for integrity and commitment to customer service. Isn’t that cool? It really is an award about character and values, things that stir emotion in a lot of us.

Thankfully, this year’s event provides an excellent foundation for building what we hope will become one of the marquis events in the Mid-Missouri business community. That is our goal, one more contribution to BBB’s mission of building trust in the marketplaces.