BBB Torch Awards Recognize Leaders in Building Trust

POLAND, Ohio – The benefits of integrity in the marketplace and building business relationships on a foundation of trust were on full display Wednesday afternoon at the Better Business Bureau of Mahoning Valley’s annual Torch Awards for Marketplace Trust.

The BBB honored three businesses, a nonprofit and a community leader who exemplify trust, ethics and integrity, and who credited their success, at least in part, to the trust they established with their clients and their communities.

“Trust takes time to build. It does not happen overnight,” said Jeff Ryznar, owner of 898 Marketing and chairman of the BBB Board of Directors.

“For all of us here in the Mahoning Valley, it took years of hard work and effort to get the trust of our team members, our clients, our partners and our community.”

The Western Reserve Transit Authority was honored, along with Crowe’s Cabinets Inc. and Earley & Sons Relocation LLC. In addition, the BBB presented Torch Awards to Flying High Professional Development Center and Tom Brittain of Brittain Motors.

Area business and community leaders gathered at The Lake Club in Poland for the event.

“When we talk about our mission of starting with trust, we’re really talking about the foundation of relationships,” said Melissa Ames, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Mahoning Valley.

“When you’re starting a new business, it’s very important that you are communicating your trust proposal to your client, and these businesses are an example of that,” she said.

Dean Harris, executive director of WRTA, accepted the award for the organization. He said businesses report 20% of their workforces rely on WRTA bus routes to get to and from work.

“Without WRTA, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to get to school, to work. We carry 1.5 million people a year, and that continues to grow,” he said.

Tim and Diane Crowe accepted the Torch Award on behalf of their business, Crowe’s Cabinets. Ames pointed out that Tim holds the rare distinction of being a Torch Award winner and also a past recipient of a BBB scholarship while he was attending Youngstown State University.

“We’ve been in business 45 years, and I’m only 41, so I started with a strong base,” Tim said. “My parents definitely gave me a good start both personally and with the company, so I can’t thank them enough.”

Dan and Stephanie Earley accepted the Torch Award for Earley & Sons Relocation, a moving coordination business specializing in downsizing and household cleanouts.

“When we started 10 years ago, we never expected to receive any type of accolades for our work,” Stephanie Earley said. “The last 10 years we’ve worked hard to earn people’s trust with their belongings. Today our hard work has paid off.”

This year’s nonprofit award winner was the Flying High Professional Development Center. Jeff Magada, executive director, said helping people turn their lives around and find gainful employment is the primary focus for Flying High.

“When I first started Flying High, I was looking for some way to make it credible in the community,” he said. “I saw that the Better Business Bureau had 20 charitable standards for nonprofits.”

Magada said he made sure Flying High was compliant with all the standards and applied for BBB accreditation. “The first accreditation Flying High received was from the Better Business Bureau many years ago,” he said.

The Torch Award for Civic Leadership was awarded to Tom Brittain of Brittain Motors Chevrolet in East Palestine.

“What I’ve done for my community service began with my grandfather and my father’s business standards,” he said. “They made a commitment to support the local economy, the schools, youth, sports and projects. In return, we’ve been supported by our customers in the tri-county area for 98 years, making us the oldest-known family-owned and continuously operated Chevy dealership anywhere.”

This year’s Ethics & Integrity Scholarship winners are, from left, Kevin Johnson Jr., Lowellville High School; Tori Rhodehamel, South Range High School; Andrew Miller, Lakeview High School; Brandon Myers, Howland High School; and Olivia Pickens, Boardman High School.

In addition to the awards, the BBB announced the winners of its Ethics & Integrity Scholarship, which provides five $1,000 one-year, post-secondary scholarships to graduating high school seniors living in Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana counties.

Applicants must be employed by or be the child or grandchild of the owner or employees of a BBB Accredited Business, and must attend a post-secondary school in the year immediately after graduation.

Farmers Trust Co. and 898 Marketing underwrote the scholarships. This year’s winners are Kevin Johnson Jr., Lowellville High School; Andrew Miller, Lakeview High School; Brandon Myers, Howland High School; Olivia Pickens, Boardman High School; and Tori Rhodehamel, South Range High School.

Before the award ceremony, those gathered watched a video featuring the BBB’s TrustBuilders, a group of four Valley banks that are committed to earning and keeping the trust of the public.

Representatives of PNC Bank, Farmers National Bank, Huntington Bank and Premier Bank shared business success stories with some of their clients. The BBB worked with The Business Journal’s video department to shoot, edit and produce the video.

Pictured at top: From left are Dan and Stefanie Earley, co-owners of Earley & Sons Relocation LLC; Dean Harris, executive director of WRTA; Tom Brittain, owner of Brittain Motors; Diane Crowe, controller at Crowe’s Cabinets; Tim Crowe, president of Crowe’s Cabinets; David Detec, chairman of Flying High Inc.; Jeff Magada, founder and executive director of Flying High Inc.; and Donna Magada, admissions coordinator at Flying High Inc.

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