FORT COLLINS - Three Colorado and Wyoming businesses were recognized Tuesday at the 2013 Better Business Bureau Torch Awards for Ethics.

The businesses were honored at the BBB's 15th annual awards ceremony at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins. Peers, colleagues and customers nominate businesses for the award, and business students at the UNC, CSU and the University of Wyoming prepare their entries. An independent panel of judges selects the winners.

Basic Beginnings Early Learning Center of Laramie, Wyo., won the large business ethics award. Founded in 1983, Basic Beginnings runs two centers serving more than 300 children. The company employs 95 workers.

"When you have as many children as we do, the people who truly make a difference in our business are the ones who work directly with the children," Basic Beginnings President Jan Lawrence said.

Jorgensen Laboratories of Loveland won the mid-sized business award. Founded in 1965, the specialty instrument and animal health product supplier works with veterinary distributors in the U.S. and Canada. The company employs 65 people.

"We couldn't do this by ourselves," Vice President Earl Sethre said. "Our employees play a fairly significant role."

Powell, Wyo.-based GF Harvest, a gluten-free oats company, won the small business ethics award. Established in 2004, the company ships gluten-free oats to 250 outlets in the U.S., Australia and United Kingdom.

The company started with a Future Farmers of America project by Forrest Smith to produce gluten-free oats, a dish he had to avoid because of celiac disease.

"That's where the dream of gluten-free oats came from," said his father and owner of GF Harvest, Seaton Smith.

Finalists for the ethics award were Rudkin Contracting and Markley Motors, both of Fort Collins; Minturn's SteamMaster Restoration and Cleaning; Thomas Crawford Auto of Casper, Wyo.; and Windsor's Peak Veterinary and Emergency Specialists.

The Better Business Bureau of Northern Colorado and Wyoming covers 3,500 businesses in 38 counties.