TULSA — Recently honored with the third-highest award from a federally-recognized government of the Cherokee people, The Cherokee Nation, was the Native American owned business Computer Solutions Incorporated located in Waxahachie. Owners and Midlothian natives Duke and Dawn Burge were presented with the "Customer Service of the Year" award in late November.

According to The Cherokee Nation website, “With more than 317,000 citizens, over 8,000 employees and a variety of tribal enterprises ranging from aerospace and defense contracts to entertainment venues, Cherokee Nation’s economic impact in Oklahoma and surrounding areas is more than $1.5 billion annually. We are one of the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma. We are the largest tribal nation in the United States [...] The Cherokee Nation is committed to protecting our inherent sovereignty, preserving and promoting Cherokee culture, language and values, and improving the quality of life for the next seven generations of Cherokee citizens.”

More than 800 Native-owned businesses that are TERO [Tribal Employment Rights Office] certified vendors were invited to the 9th annual TERO Awards Banquet hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

TERO is the Cherokee Nation Tribal Ordinance that monitors and enforces TERO authorization, “[...] to ensure employment rights are protected. Enforcement of employment rights is funded through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.). The TERO will investigate and mediate employment discrimination involving unfair employment procedures or practices prohibited by Title VII, ADA, ADEA, & EPA. The TERO negotiates for job vacancies with contractors doing business with the Cherokee Nation and refers qualified Native American workers to fill those vacancies.”

Of the 800 business and over 1,000 attendees, eight companies were honored as standout TERO businesses.

“We were at the banquet, and they were calling out runner-ups for awards and then they would say who won. They probably recognized 20 businesses, and they finally got to the top three awards which are the best small business, the best large business and the customer service of the year award," Burge said. “They got to our award and butchered pronouncing Waxahachie and then asked what the chances were that we were there. We were already halfway up to the stage when she realized we were there and everyone was surprised we actually came. I don't know how I could have missed it.”

According to the Computer Solutions, Inc website, the business “[...] offers multiple levels of service for you and your Company. Our retail storefront allows you to immediately talk to a Technician in person by bringing your system to us. Our Field Service Technicians are scheduled utilizing state-of-the-art software which allows you to request a service call, see when the Technician is scheduled, and follow the progress of his work.”

The business has been TERO certified for ten years and earning $10 million in contract awards and over $150,000 in work through the Cherokee Nation organization.

Burge shared that “having TERO certification is recognized by most governments when we are competing for projects, and it has helped us tremendously.”

In a Cherokee Nation press release, Principal Chief Bill John Baker shared, “in the past five years, we have almost tripled the number of TERO-certified vendors, and we have given our certified Indian-owned businesses billions of dollars in opportunity as they do business with the Cherokee Nation. [...] As we contract to build more homes, new entertainment facilities and the future 478,000-square-foot expansion at W.W. Hastings Hospital campus in Tahlequah, it means our TERO vendors are hiring more Cherokee tradesmen. Those jobs have a positive effect on our economy and our communities.”

Though the award was surprising for the Burge's, the business implements a customer service rule in which once the company is contacted a representative must respond to a client within three minutes.

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Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL

(469) 517-1454