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Cherokee Hy-Vee Employee Earns Company's Highest Honor

The employee who’s known as “the heart of Hy-Vee” at the Cherokee Hy-Vee store has been named one of this year’s recipients of Hy-Vee’s highest honor. 

September 9, 2020 | News & Press Releases

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (Sept. 9, 2020) — The employee who’s known as “the heart of Hy-Vee” at the Cherokee Hy-Vee store has been named one of this year’s recipients of Hy-Vee’s highest honor. 

Jean Hantsbarger, the customer service manager at the Cherokee Hy-Vee and a 37-year employee, received an overwhelming show of support for her nomination to the Hy-Vee Legendary Customer Service award program earlier this summer. More than 100 customers, coworkers and community members commented on a social media post around Jean’s nomination, and every one mentioned Jean’s commitment to caring for her customers and her fellow employees. 

That commitment is why her fellow employees, family members, customers and Hy-Vee executives gathered at the Cherokee Hy-Vee today to surprise Jean with the Legendary Customer Service Award. The award recognizes exemplary achievement in providing service that exceeds customers’ expectations. Only nine winners were selected from among more than 85,000 Hy-Vee employees across eight states. 

“Jean is the heart of the Cherokee Hy-Vee, and she’s behind the customer service counter with the Hy-Vee helpful smile that every store wants to have,” wrote Shawn Brown, district vice president for Hy-Vee’s northwest district, in Jean’s nomination. “The compliments and comments that came in supporting Jean all spoke to how thankful they are that Jean continues to be a smiling face at their Cherokee Hy-Vee, and how much they enjoy interacting with her during their visits. Hy-Vee is very fortunate to have Jean as part of our family.” 

Jean’s outstanding customer service was cited again and again by those who wrote in support of her nomination. “If you have any questions, ask Jean. If you need help, Jean has the answer. Need something done, Jean will do it,” one co-worker wrote. “If you need a ride to work, Jean will pick you up. If you need a ride home, Jean will gladly volunteer. Most importantly, if you just need a friend – Jean always makes time. She is unstoppable, and her passion for people goes beyond anybody’s expectations.” 

Candidates are nominated for the Legendary Customer Service Award by their co-workers, and winners are selected by a panel of Hy-Vee’s top officers. Nominations are evaluated 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.

Hy-Vee’s Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker said Jean demonstrates exactly the type of caring commitment to others that Hy-Vee leaders had in mind when the Legendary Customer Service Award was established in 2006. 

“Jean lives out the things Hy-Vee stands for in everything she does while providing helpful and dedicated service to our customers. Her nominators pointed to example after example of her commitment to her customers, her co-workers and her community,” Edeker said. “This award honors the best of the best from among our Hy-Vee family, and Jean is most deserving of this recognition.” 

Jean and the other 2020 recipients of the Legendary Customer Service Award will be inducted into 
Hy-Vee’s Customer Service Hall of Fame and receive a coveted Legendary Customer Service name badge and a custom-designed ring to commemorate the honor. Recipients will also receive a crystal trophy and a free trip of their choice. And finally, their photos will be prominently featured on the side of Hy-Vee trucks, showcasing their helpful smiles to millions of travelers across the Midwest.


Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 275 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of $10 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 10 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 5 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 85,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit