Ethics are a matter of basic common sense to the winners of this year’s New Mexico Ethics in Business Awards.
The winners don’t talk much about things like ethics training. Instead, they focus on simply doing right by customers and the people they serve.
Glass-Rite Windows & Doors is the winner in the for-profit business category, while the individual award goes to Ralph Baldwin, CEO of Enterprise Builders Corp.
Sterling Brown, director of clinical services at Haven Behavioral Health of Albuquerque, is the Young Ethical Leader of the year, and Special Olympics New Mexico is the nonprofit organization winner.
“It’s not that hard to do the over-and-above to make (customers) happy,” said Glass-Rite owner and President Bill Hoberg, adding, “It makes me happier every day.”
This year’s awards program is hosted by Central New Mexico Community College, which took over after longtime sponsor Samaritan Counseling Center closed last year.
“We’re very proud that these four will be the first winners with CNM as the host,” said Samantha Sengel, chief advancement and community engagement officer for the college. “They don’t know it yet, but they’ll be part of the CNM family.”
The award winners were nominated last year and went through an extensive review by students from the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. A nine-member selection committee interviewed finalists and chose the winners.
“By the time you get to the finalist stage, they’re all impressive,” said committee Chairman Eric Weinstein, executive vice president of Aon Risk Solutions. “They’re rewarding to learn about.”
He said the winners honor the legacy of the awards program. The committee can select up to three winners in the for-profit category. In the last few years, it chose two firms. This year, it felt strongly about just one of the finalists, Weinstein said.
CNM, CNM Ingenuity and the CNM Foundation will be involved in the program going forward, and proceeds from the annual event will support ethics training programs and help fund scholarships for CNM students dedicated to ethics.
CNM is excited to use the awards program as a springboard to heighten the conversation about ethics in the community and plans to host a community discussion this fall, Sengel said.
From the time Bill Hoberg and his brother, Steve, bought Glass-Rite Windows & Doors in 1988, they have strived to keep their customers happy by delivering a quality product at a fair price.
That can be a tough order to fill in the remodeling business, but the Hobergs focus on making things right.
“You may spend more money on a job, but in the end you have a customer who likes you, who recommends you,” Bill Hoberg said, adding that he doesn’t have a lot of unhappy ex-employees or suppliers either. Even employees who have been fired have returned to buy Glass-Rite windows.
The Hobergs built a culture of putting customers first, from the guys who work in the shop to the folks who install their products.
“A lot of it comes down to how much the employees care about the (customers),” Hoberg said. “The ones who don’t care don’t stay for long.”
That attitude is part of what earned Glass-Rite the Rust Award for Excellence in Ethical Business Practice by a For-Profit Business.
Glass-Rite has many repeat customers and gets more than 60 percent of its business from word-of-mouth. The company has won Super Service Awards from Angie’s List in every year but one since 2007.
When the Environmental Protection Agency made lead-based paint testing mandatory for window replacement projects, Glass-Rite faced a potential ethical dilemma. The company could have skirted the requirement, as Hoberg said many other companies have done, but instead it spent about $20,000 to gear up for the testing.
“That puts us at odds where we have to charge more and do more, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” Hoberg said.
Glass-Rite also is actively involved in the community. Employees work on company time to help build ramps for seniors as part of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico’s Care program. Glass-Rite has participated in efforts with the Make a Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and Endorphin Power Co.
“Their contribution is significant and solid,” said Doug Keaty, a general contractor and chairman of Home Builders Care. “They’re always willing to help and eager to give back to the community.”
Keaty said Glass-Rite also is a green company, selling energy-efficient windows that are made in New Mexico to handle weather extremes and don’t experience the elevation-related problems of windows manufactured at sea level. Making windows locally also helps the Albuquerque economy and avoids transportation impacts of shipping products from out of state, he said.
Just as the Hoberg brothers were taking over Glass-Rite about three decades ago, Ralph Baldwin was starting up Enterprise Builders with his partner, David Doyle.
Albuquerque was in the midst of a severe commercial construction downturn, the firm where they both worked was shutting its doors and there were few other opportunities. So, they took out second mortgages on their homes and founded their own construction business.
“The big motivation, truly, was that we thought we could do it quicker, better, smarter, faster and less expensively for customers,” Baldwin said. “We’ve always held that any business transaction has to be a win-win for everybody. A win-lose transaction in my mind is really a lose-lose.”
Winning the PNM Award for Individual Excellence in Ethical Business Practice has been mind-boggling for Baldwin, who said he was humbled to be “recognized for doing the right thing.”
His company has focused on building relationships with clients and earning their trust and confidence. Enterprise still is doing work for one of its first clients and has built many projects for Presbyterian Healthcare Services and other firms.
It also offers generous benefits that have helped build a workforce of 44 full-time employees, including many who have been with the company more than two decades. The firm has a tradition of promoting from within, resulting in low employee turnover, and has converted to an employee stock option plan.
“Truly, everybody shares in the rewards of the company,” Baldwin said.
Corporate giving and community involvement also are priorities for Enterprise, which donates to the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation and is a co-sponsor of its Laughter is the Best Medicine fundraiser.
“We really focus on giving back because we understand that the community is what allows us to be successful,” Baldwin said.
When it comes to ethics, he said, it’s a simple matter of respect, honesty and doing what you say you’ll do. “What would you do if mom was sitting at the table?” he asked. “It’s that simple.”
Special Olympics New Mexico
This year’s Hopkins Award for Excellence in Ethical Practice by a Nonprofit Organization went to Special Olympics New Mexico, which has been serving the state since 1977.
The organization offers sports training and competition in 12 sports to people with intellectual disabilities, teaching them teamwork, commitment and the principle of practice leading to improvement.
“We transform their lives through sport, improve quality of life and build inclusive communities statewide,” said Executive Director Randy Mascorella.
At state competitions, volunteer health professionals offer screenings as part of the Healthy Athletes initiative. For example, an athlete might see a dentist or have a vision exam so they can be fitted with eyeglasses that allow them to see the golf ball or the basketball rim when they compete.
The United Champion Schools program partners special education and regular education students to play sports together, teaching acceptance and reducing bullying.
Special Olympics works hard to put the athletes first and, as long as it is doing that, it is doing things right, Mascorella said, adding that the organization must make decisions and build relationships with the highest standards because its actions reflect on the athletes. “If we weren’t seen in the best light, people would think badly of them.”
Sometimes putting the athletes first – all the athletes – can lead to difficult decisions. When Special Olympics athletes gather to compete at the 50th anniversary games in Seattle this year, New Mexico will be the only state not represented.
“We’ve received quite a lot of pressure,” Mascorella said, explaining that she could not justify spending $60,000 or more to send a team at a time when the organization is facing budget troubles. “That (money) would make a big difference here for the other athletes that we’re serving.”
Ethical challenges come with the territory for licensed clinical social worker Sterling Brown. As director of clinical services at the Haven Behavioral Health inpatient psychiatric facility in Albuquerque, he regularly makes tough decisions.
“In social work in general, there are a lot of ethical gray areas,” he said. “We’re dealing with human lives.”
Brown, 30, is the winner of the Young Ethical Leader award.
At Haven, he has responsibility for the care and legal status of patients and often must decide whether to commit someone to treatment against their wishes or to refuse inpatient care.
“That’s something I have to put a lot of my heart and my decisional capacity into – forcing someone to stay in a locked facility when they don’t want to stay and don’t think anything’s wrong with them,” Brown said.
In other cases, patients want to be admitted but don’t meet the clinical criteria. Brown also must juggle the sometimes-competing needs of patients and the for-profit hospital for which he works.
“I have to constantly walk a line of making sure we have a full census and making sure the patients we’re bringing in need the services,” he said. “I get a lot of really awesome support from my CEO here as well as the other directors. … When it comes to making ethical decisions, it’s always something that requires a lot of support and a lot of experience.”
Brown, who is responsible for intake and social services at the adult hospital, oversees a staff of 23 counselors.
“My passion really is in severe mental illness,” he said. “It can be really intense, but that’s also what I find to be the most fulfilling.”
Brown also is an adjunct teacher at New Mexico State University’s Albuquerque campus, is on track to earn his doctorate in behavioral health this summer and is married with three young children.