Businesses honored at inaugural BBB Torch Awards

By Jim Hagerty
Contributor

ROCKFORD — The Better Business Bureau recognized three local companies for their workplace ethics Wednesday at the inaugural Rockford Regional Torch Awards. 

The Gem Shop, Schmeling Construction and MembersAlliance Credit Union were honored at Capital House restaurant for displaying ethical standards of behavior toward customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees and competitors.

The Gem Shop’s roots trace back to 1967, when Bruce Mueller, who took his master’s degree in geology and opened C&M Rock Shop Beulah, Michigan. The shop was open in summer, and when the season ended, Mueller would bring his family back to their home in Rockford. In 1981, hr opened The Gem Shop next to the Wagon Wheel resort. Bruce’s son, Kevin, now runs the business. 

The Gem Shop was also presented with a Torch Award in 2001 by the Chicago Better Business Bureau.

A fifth-generation Rockford company, Schmeling Construction has been involved in countless commercial, industrial and institutional projects over the last 115 years. Headed today by Steve Schmeling, the company’s client base includes all three local health systems, nursing homes, banks, assisted living facilities and countless office and other commercial spaces. 

MembersAlliance Credit Union was started in 1938 by a group of Sundstrand employees looking for more affordable banking options. Today, the nonprofit financial cooperative has five branches in Rockford, including its headquarters at the corner Alpine Road and Harrison Avenue, across from the former Sundstrand, UTC Aerospace.

“The Torch Award is the premier award the BBB can present to a company,” Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office, said. “Torch Award winners demonstrate the highest ethical standards.”

Awards were presented by WTVO/Fox 39 news anchor Eric Wilson. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara was the keynote speaker.

Now in its 30th year, the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau is a division of the Chicago BBB. R.