The Weird Story Of How We Won
The St. Louis BBB TORCH Award For Ethics
One Ultra-Picky Customer, Six Years Of Procrastinating
& A Bit Of Carpel Tunnel Is All It Took.
BY JASON QUILLMAN, CO-OWNER
I pride myself on being ultra-picky. But I met my match with one particular customer.
Let’s call him John.
In 2012, John contacted us about a roofing and siding project. John isn’t just picky—he’s borderline Obsessive-Compulsive. He knows it, and he makes no apologies for it.
When I first arrived at his house, I could tell exactly what kind of person he was. His house was immaculate. Every blade of grass in his yard was perfect. His car was so clean it looked like it came straight off the assembly line.
And though John doesn’t work in home improvement, he had done most of the interior work in his house. It looked FANTASTIC—better than what I see from 90% of professional remodelers. It probably took him forever, but that’s how much of a perfectionist John is. He wants the job done FLAWLESSLY… and he doesn’t care what it takes.
As you can see, my crew and I had our work cut out for us. We were working with a customer who accepted NOTHING less than absolute, unbridled excellence.
We didn’t disappoint him.
In fact, John was so impressed with our work that he took me aside after the job and said, “Jason, I want to let you know you guys are awesome. I’ve had a bunch of remodeling work done over the years, so I deal with all kinds of companies. You are by far the top contractor I’ve ever worked with.”
High praise from a guy who seemed to dedicate TLC to every individual blade of grass on his lawn.
John then suggested I nominate my company for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) TORCH Award for the St. Louis area. The TORCH Award is given to companies and organizations that adhere to a high standard of ethics that benefits customers, employees, suppliers, and the community. Companies must nominate themselves to be considered, and it’s an award that very, very few organizations win… especially home-improvement companies.
I told John I was honored by his suggestion and would consider applying.
Fast-Forward Six Years…
It was 2018. Business was booming.
And I still hadn’t nominated my company for the TORCH Award.
It’s not that I didn’t want to. But running an exterior-remodeling company consumes 100% of your brainpower on a 24/7/365 basis. The TORCH Award simply slipped my mind.
I had done some work for John since that initial project in 2012. In once instance, John called me because he had a leak in his home he thought was caused by the chimney flashing. I immediately came over, got up on his roof, and examined the chimney. The flashing was 100% perfect.
Instead of telling John “not my problem” and going on my merry way, I helped him root out the cause of his leak. John said he was also getting water in the basement, which I thought was odd. So I examined his foundation and discovered that there was water wherever there was brick. Turns out, there had been so much rain the previous few days that the bricks of his chimney had become oversaturated.
I recommended John call a masonry company. The company confirmed the problem was indeed the bricks and fixed the issue.
One summer day in 2018, I ran into John at Lion’s Choice (the French Dip was calling my name).
“You ever nominate your company for the TORCH Award?” John asked.
“No,” I replied. “I’ve always meant to. I’ve just been so busy.”
“Listen,” John said. “Every time I’ve called you for something, you’ve come out fast. You take care of problems, even if they’re not yours. You are still the best contractor I’ve ever worked with. So what the heck are you waiting for?”
John had finally twisted my arm.
“You’re right,” I said. “When I get back to the office, I’m going to start the application process straight away.”
When I returned to my office, I fired up the computer and went to the BBB website. To nominate my company, I had to provide a bunch of information about my business and, this is the hard part, write down numerous examples of how my company demonstrates exceptional ethics.
It’s not that I didn’t have plenty of examples. But my crew and I had done hundreds and hundreds of jobs. At some point, it becomes easy to forget things as the projects pile up.
“That’s fine,” I thought. “I can write down examples as they come to me over the next few weeks.”
Then my heart sank.
I saw on the webpage that the deadline was THE NEXT DAY.
At first, I considered applying next year. But then I thought, “No. It’s been six years, and I haven’t applied. It’s now or never.”
So I locked myself in my office, shut off all lines of communication, and racked my brain for every example it could muster. I worked through the rest of the day, writing and writing and writing. By the time I was done, my brain was cooked. My eyes were bloodshot. My hands were curled into the shape of lobster claws.
But I had finished.
I submitted the application, not really expecting much. After all, it was rare for any organization to win the TORCH Award… let alone a home-improvement company.
About a month later, I received a call. It was a representative from the BBB TORCH Award judging panel… phoning to tell me XteriorPRO would be a TORCH Award recipient for 2018 and that they’d be honored to have us at their awards banquet.
Twelve organizations won the St. Louis BBB TORCH Award in 2018—nine for-profit businesses and three charitable organizations.
I am immensely proud that XteriorPRO was one of them.