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Monday, March 23, 2009
Working for Good
By Rivkela Brodsky
Journal Staff Writer
The three businesses, the individual and nonprofit receiving this year's Samaritan Counseling Center's New Mexico Ethics in Business Awards went "above and beyond" in their ethical behavior, said selection committee chairman David Seeley.
The 13-member selection committee in January chose five winners from 30 nominees.
"The whole process is geared toward looking for model organizations or individuals who can be held up in the community," he said.
The selection process begins with a call for nominations starting in April. A screening committee narrows the number of nominees. Then, about 120 students in two sections of the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management fall semester business ethics class interview nominees in teams, writing a research paper on each. The course is taught by Sarah Smith, who holds the Rust Professorship in Business Ethics position.
Finally, the selection committee chooses winners based on the student papers and follow-up interviews conducted by members of the committee.
"We had considerable debate and deliberation and discussion. It's a very difficult process," said Seeley, who is also president and CEO of Kirtland Federal Credit Union.
The for-profit awards have been newly named in honor of Jack and Donna Rust for contributions they have given to the UNM school of business and School of Medicine and other entities and for their body of work regarding ethics, said Kathleen Raskob, resource development director for the center.
All five recipients will be honored March 31 at Hotel Albuquerque. The awards are sponsored by the center, the Anderson School, the Albuquerque Journal, KOB-TV, New Mexico Bank & Trust and Presbyterian Healthcare Services.
Peacock Myers, P.C.
Deborah Peacock and Jeffrey Myers founded their law firm 14 years ago. It's now the biggest intellectual property law firm in New Mexico.
"We have frequent communication with employees concerning values and ethics and how to treat customers," Peacock said. "That's been since Day One."
Peacock said the firm was nominated in part because of the numerous benefits it offers employees. For example, the firm gives $1,000 to $5,000 to employees who volunteer in the community. Employees can take the money or donate it. Myers and Peacock also participate in volunteer work.
The firm tries to be conscious of conflicts of interest and advises clients by what's best for the client, not by what's profitable for the firm, Peacock said.
Redford and Associates
Sam and Jim Redford moved their architecture firm to Silver City from Dallas 20 years ago, "not knowing if we could make it," Sam said.
The couple said the city has a spirit of service, something they latched onto when they relocated. "We do a lot," said Jim. "But let me say this — this community does a lot."
Sam is active on the Grant County Community Health Council, serving as president, and also serves as the recording secretary for New Mexico First. Jim, an architect, has provided plans for volunteer fire stations.
Sam said the award "really means a lot to both of us. We didn't expect it. It's hard to imagine being honored for ethics. It's something we've always practiced in our business."
The Redfords say they have always been willing to stand up for what they think is right. "Money is not our impetus," Sam said.
Yearout Mechanical Inc.
Yearout Mechanical Inc., the biggest mechanical contractor in the state, employs just more than 400 people.
It is family-run and is moving toward being employee-owned. An Employee Stock Ownership Program has been in place for seven years, and workers have bought more than 40 percent of the company, President Kevin Yearout said. "It promotes to them that they have ownership of what they're doing," he said.
The company also offers fully paid health, dental and eye insurance for employees' families.
But Yearout says ethics isn't about benefits; it's about "the way we treat people."
The company encourages that attitude by posting mission and vision statements, taking staff on trips and offering life-skills classes to employees.
Yearout's wife, Lian, is the CFO and his brother, Bryan, runs a subsidiary of the company in Eunice. Yearout's father retired from the company in 2000. The company was started by Yearout's grandfather 46 years ago.
Edward Lujan has been in the insurance business since 1960, when he started working for his father's company, the Manuel Lujan Agencies in Santa Fe.
Edward Lujan started a branch of the agency in Albuquerque in 1968. Lujan is "basically retired now," he said, and his three sons and son-in-law run the company.
Lujan served as chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party from 1983 to 1987 and served on the Albuquerque Economic Development Inc. board in the early '90s, among other things. He is emeritus chair of the National Hispanic Cultural Center board and its foundation board. He was also instrumental in getting the center built and serves on the board of the National Dance Institute of New Mexico.
"There's no gray when it comes to ethics," Lujan said. "It's either right or wrong. There is that hypothetical line, but in my perspective you never get close to that line."
Ethics is at the core of Enlace Comunitario's principles, said director Claudia Medina.
Medina said the award "is a recognition of what we have done to make ethics a part of our culture at Enlace."
Enlace Comunitario, which means community link, has been serving Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence and advancing rights of immigrants for nine years. Services include legal services, counseling, safety planning, case management, life-skills classes community outreach and more.
"Ethics is paramount for us," she said. "Ethics and a sense of the team."
The 18 employees at the nonprofit and the 30 board members that direct the organizations are required to be bilingual, and the board is composed of at least six members from the low-income Spanish-speaking community.
If you go
WHAT: The 10th annual Samaritan Counseling Center's New Mexico Ethics in Business Awards dinner
WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 31
WHERE: Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, 800 Rio Grande NW
COST: $125 for individuals. Tables of 10 cost $1,250. Tickets and sponsorships are available by calling 842-5300 or visiting www.ethicsinbusinessnm.com
For the Jack and Donna Rust Award for Excellence in Ethical Business Practice by For-Profit Businesses:
â– Peacock Myers, P.C.
â– Redford Associates
â– Yearout Mechanical Inc.
For the PNM/John Ackerman Award for Individual Excellence in Ethical Business Practice:
â– Edward Lujan
For the Not-for-Profit Organization:
â– Enlace Comunitario