Mike Huerter, the bakery manager at Hy-Vee in Mission, has received the Legendary Customer Service Award, the highest recognition the grocery store company offers to its employees. He is the first bakery employee company-wide to receive this award.
Huerter has been working for Hy-Vee for 32 years, the majority of those years as bakery manager. He has served at the Mission Hy-Vee since 2008.
Dozens of people came out to surprise Huerter with the award Monday afternoon at the Mission Hy-Vee store, including fellow employees, family members, customers and Hy-Vee executives.
“Bakeries can sometimes be a grind, but he was always super positive, uplifting, mentored the people that are around him,” said Chris Wiltfong, store director at Mission Hy-Vee. “Not one day that I’ve known this man has he ever come in and made it about the job. He’s always made it about the customer every single solitary day. I’ve never seen a moment where it wasn’t like that.”
The crowd whooped and hollered in celebration, and Huerter graciously wiped a few tears away.
“Thank you so much, it’s an honor. Very humbling,” Huerter said. “I’ve never been short of words before.”
He also gave honor to his parents as well as many of his past and present fellow employees.
“My crew is the best crew that I’ve ever worked for in my 32 years in the bakery, hands down,” he added. “I love every one of them, and they’ll stay till however many hours to get the job done and do whatever it takes to get it done.”
Huerter joins 10 other Hy-Vee employees out the company’s 80,000-strong workforce in eight states to receive this award in 2019. The award recognizes exemplary achievement in providing service that exceeds customers’ expectations.
Huerter has worked at Hy-Vee stores in the Kansas City area, Lawrence, Kansas, and Shenandoah, Iowa. He is the 120th employee to receive the award since Hy-Vee created it in 2006.
Hy-Vee executives, who selected him for the award, said Huerter’s efforts to build community, including fundraisers and hosting and organizing events for local elementary students and the Mission Police Department, exemplify his values as both a dedicated employee and member of the community.
“Mike, on behalf of Randy (Edeker, chief executive officer), on behalf of Hy-Vee, I can’t thank you enough for the service you’ve given, not only to the Mission Hy-Vee but to all of the Hy-Vees you’ve served under,” said Jamie Stephens, regional vice president of Hy-Vee’s southwest district. “It’s my honor and privilege to be able to read that award to you and thank you for your service.”
Wiltfong said Huerter has also built a relationship with Alex Goodwin, a British boy who receives medical treatments in the Kansas City area. Together, Huerter, Mission Hy-Vee employees and Mission police officers have coordinated fundraising efforts for Goodwin to offset treatment and travel expenses.
Huerter was nominated by his co-workers for the Legendary Customer Service Award. Nominations are evaluated by a panel of Hy-Vee executives on “the employee’s overall contributions to the company in nine areas: passion for customer service, attitude, initiative, teamwork, problem-solving skills, dedication to Hy-Vee fundamentals, communication skills, professional image and self-confidence.”
Huerter and the other 2019 award recipients will be inducted into Hy-Vee’s Customer Service Hall of Fame and receive a Legendary Customer Service name badge and a custom-designed ring to commemorate the honor. He will also receive a travel voucher good for a destination of his choice, and his picture will be featured on the side of Hy-Vee trucks.