‘A big Hy-Vee honor’

Marshall Hy-Vee’s Roger Ricke receives 2017 Legendary Customer Service Award on Friday

Photo by Karin Elton Roger Ricke, manager of general merchandise at Marshall Hy-Vee, received the 2017 Hy-Vee Legendary Customer Service Award Friday at Hy-Vee. The award recognizes exemplary achievement in providing service that exceeds customers’ expectations. Only nine winners are selected each year from among more than 85,000 Hy-Vee employees across eight states. Ricke received the award Friday in a special ceremony at Hy-Vee. His fellow co-workers, family, Hy-Vee officials and former managers were among the crowd.

MARSHALL — Luckily, Roger Ricke always shows up at work dressed for an award ceremony in which he is the recipient. Wearing his usual white shirt and tie, Ricke was surprised Friday morning to learn that he has been named the 2017 Hy-Vee Legendary Customer Service Award recipient. Ricke, manager of general merchandise at Marshall Hy-Vee, is the first of nine recipients who will be awarded this year.

In an interview with the Independent after the ceremony Ricke said he was “very surprised” and felt overwhelmed.

“I usually like to fly under the radar,” said Ricke, who has worked at Hy-Vee for 35 years. “It’s a big Hy-Vee honor.”

Wes Snook, district vice president of Hy-Vee, came from the corporate office in West Des Moines to present the award Friday. He told Ricke and the crowd of family, customers and co-workers who gathered near the front entrance at Hy-Vee that Ricke will be inducted into Hy-Vee’s Customer Service Hall of Fame, receive a Legendary Customer Service name badge and a custom-designed ring to commemorate the honor. Ricke and the other recipients will be the guests of honor at their area’s service award dinner in October, which honors employees for longevity of service. They will also be recognized at Hy-Vee’s annual stockholders’ meeting in December. Perhaps best of all, Ricke’s smiling visage will be prominently emblazoned on the side of Hy-Vee semi trucks, which travel throughout the Midwest.

“That will be pretty cool,” said Ricke.

Ricke acknowledged his fellow employees.

“There are so many others that work here who equally or more so deserve the honor,” Ricke said.

His co-workers beg to differ as they were the ones who nominated Ricke for the honor.

“Ricke’s warm, outgoing demeanor and the joy he displays in coming to work each day” were cited as a few of the reasons Ricke’s co-workers nominated him.

Nominations are evaluated by a panel of Hy-Vee’s top officers on the employee’s overall contributions to the company in nine areas including a passion for customer service, attitude, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

“In the short time I have worked with Roger, there aren’t just one or two stories about how he has provided awesome customer service or gone above and beyond. It’s a daily occurrence,” said Kyle Thornsbrough, Marshall Hy-Vee store director. “From giving co-workers a ride home in a snow storm and helping older customers to their cars with their groceries, to checking all day on a register because he knows the front end needs him, Roger will do anything for anyone.”

Hy-Vee’s Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker said in a statement that Ricke is exactly the type of employee company officials had in mind when the Legendary Customer Service Award was established in 2006.

“Roger personifies what Hy-Vee stands for — helpful, honest and respectful service to our customers. His dedication to this community and the people who live in it is evident each and every day through his hard work,” Edeker said. “This award honors the best of the best, and Roger is most deserving of this recognition.”

A Marshall native, Ricke started working for Hy-Vee while he was still in high school in 1983.

“I was in the grocery department, stocking, checking,” he said.

After graduating from Marshall High, Ricke attended vo-tech in Pipestone for two years taking food marketing courses. He continued to work at the Marshall Hy-Vee on weekends. In 1987 he started to work for Hy-Vee on a full-time basis. He worked in Worthington from 1987 to 1990 before moving back to Marshall.

Ricke can’t believe it’s been 35 years.

“You work hard, you get treated well,” he said. “Hy-Vee has always been good to me.”

Ricke’s family, including his wife, Karen, daughter, Kendra, son, Chace and brother, Ron Ricke, and sister, Connie Ricke, were among the attendees at the ceremony Friday. His brother is a longtime Hy-Vee employee and his sister works at the Hy-Vee in Brookings, S.D.