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By Barbara Grondin Francella
GIBSONIA. Pa. -- Handee Marts Inc., a 40-year 7-Eleven licensee of 62 stores based here, was honored at the eighth annual Pittsburgh Business Ethics Awards (PBEA) for its "firm commitment to ethical business practices."
The c-store licensee was the 2008 PBEA recipient in the small company category, which includes firms with fewer than 250 employees. The award is presented by the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership at the University of Pittsburgh.
"We were surprised we were nominated," Mike Triantafellou, Handee Mart's president and CEO, told CSNews Online. "We aren't members of the PBEA, but someone in the community nominated us." The nominating process included answering a questionnaire on business practices and on-site interview.
The Turner family, who owns Turner Dairy and Handee Mart, "have always conducted themselves in a manner that is absolutely outstanding," Triantafellou said. "They believe they are stewards, that nothing is theirs -- it is either God's, your family's, the customers' or the employees'. As stewards of the money we earn, we distribute it back pretty freely to the community."
Triantafellou said Handee Mart management was very pleased when 7-Eleven Inc. embraced the philosophy of servant leadership. "We didn't invent servant leadership, but all of us here conduct ourselves that way," he said. "We really believe that you take the pyramid with the CEO sitting on top of the world and invert that triangle. I'm at the very bottom and everyone else here is above me. That is how everyone here conducts themselves and it has paid dividends."
While the country is going through a rough patch now, Triantafellou said, "we are all going to get through the tough times. As long as we conduct ourselves in a manner we can be proud of everyday when we walk out those doors, everyone will be OK."
Handee Marts holds the 7-Eleven area license for western Pennsylvania, northeast Ohio, and some counties in West Virginia and Maryland. Most stores are within 30 miles of Pittsburgh.
The PBEA event is jointly sponsored by the Allegheny Conference on Communitiy Development, Innovative Benefits Consulting Inc., NewsRadio 1020 KDKA and Trib Total Media.