In addition to presenting the BBB’s year-end review, the BBB presented the Awards for Excellence to two companies that exemplify ethical behavior and display integrity in all aspects of their operations — toward their employees, vendors, customers and within their community.
The BBB Award for Excellence for a company with more than 25 employees was given to Strategic Fulfillment Group in Big Sandy.
Tony Pytlak, president and chief operating officer, said Strategic Fulfillment Group, better known as SFG, is a marketing services firm that provides operation services, such as a call center and mail processing, to more than 125 national and international brands. He said he calls them partners instead of clients and they include Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic and Texas Highways Magazine. They have more than 37 million customer contacts through all of the communication channels of the company each year, he said.
Pytlak said the company has grown by 50 percent in the last four years, and has grown from 160 to 230 employees in its 140,000-square-foot facility in Big Sandy. He said they are focused on becoming a trusted company both locally and nationally.
“We’re dedicated and committed to upholding the vision of the BBB,” he said.
Design Center Signs in Tyler received the BBB Award for Excellence for a company with 25 employees or less.
“This is a great honor,” Design Center Signs Vice President Paul Ingle told the crowd. “We are celebrating 25 years of service. In this day and time, that’s a milestone.”
Ingle owns the company with his wife, Nita Ingle, who serves as president.
The company, which offers signs and other branding services to help businesses advertise to their target customers, recently started serving customers outside of Texas, he said.
“We have to continually reinvent ourselves to be relevant. … We’ve rebranded ourselves several times,” Ingle said.
He said in 2012, Design Center had its second best year of revenue in company history and experienced its third best year in 2011. He said their goal for 2013 is to have their best year ever.
“High standards are hard to adhere to in this challenging economy … but you have to take the high road in all situations,” Ingle said.
Last year’s award recipients, Robert Owens, of Traditions Restaurant and Catering; and Sharon Howell, of Travel Masters, presented the awards Wednesday.
BBB President/Chief Executive Officer Mechele Agbayani Mills presented Camille Brown, past chairwoman of the board, a token of her appreciation.
Ms. Mills said the BBB Serving Central East Texas exceeded its goals last year. She said there were a record 436 new accreditations given to businesses last year. She presented team awards to her accreditation team and operations staff.
For more than 100 years, the BBB has helped consumers make smarter buying decisions. “An ethical, self-regulated marketplace is in our best interest,” she said.
Last year, 626,000 consumers contacted the BBB offices in Tyler and Longview. Of those, 368,000 people called about a particular business while 150,000 people called for a list of businesses. There were 64,000 consumers who used the BBBs’ smart phone app and 18,000 people who filed a complaint, Ms. Mills said.
A new project for the BBB this year will be its Charity Review Program, which will be used to encourage giving to vetted charities, just as they encourage buying from vetted businesses, Ms. Mills said.
Kara Wang, a senior at Robert E. Lee High School, received first place and was awarded a $2,000 textbook scholarship to an accredited college or university. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. She is involved with several campus and community related activities, including the UIL marching band. She has been named to All Region Band, receiving No. 1 ratings in solo and state competitions for four consecutive years. As an art scholar, she has won every PTA Reflections Contest in Visual Arts in the Tyler area since the fourth grade. She plans to major in business marketing and minor in art in college.
Courtney Johnson, a senior at Bishop T.K. Gorman Catholic School, received second place and was awarded $1,000. She is captain and head cheerleader, works as a dance and cheer teacher at a local gym and as a lifeguard. She also volunteers for several organizations, has a two-year perfect attendance record, has been on the honor roll throughout high school and has been awarded many subject area merit awards. She plans to major in communication studies in college.
About 100 people attended the sold-out event at Holiday Inn in Tyler, Ms. Mills said. Award recipients were chosen by an independent panel of judges.