Hy-Vee honors Austin employee as ‘Legendary’; Kanne honored with highest award the company gives

Published 8:32 am Friday, August 25, 2017

Some of Mark Kanne’s co-workers were behind the bananas.

Men in suits were waiting next to the peaches.

Friends and family were  off to the side next to the shopping carts, waiting to surprise Kanne.

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When the Austin Hy-Vee manager of general merchandise stepped through the store’s front door, another co-worker rolled a red carpet in front of him.

Austin Hy-Vee employees watch Thursday’s award ceremony honoring co-worker Mark Kanne from behind a fruit display.

Kanne shuffled and stopped and started again.

That is how the man who has worked for Hy-Vee since 1974 learned he was receiving the company’s highest award for an employee, the Legendary Customer Service Award.

“When they say it is a family, they really do mean it,” Kanne said when he was asked to speak during the  award ceremony.

“When people call me Uncle Mark that …,” he said as he tapped his fist over his heart.”

He added: “I love you all. I love my job. I was talking with John just yesterday. He asked me when I was going to retire, and I said ‘You know John, I don’t think I ever will … Because I do love working with people.’”

According to a news release from Hy-Vee, Kanne is known for going the extra mile to make customers happy. Whether it’s jumping on a register without being asked or going above and beyond by taking a customer an item on his way home from work, he does it all without hesitation.

Mark Kanne, recipient of Hy-Vee’s highest award for an employee, poses for a picture between his pastors from Cornerstone Church, the Revs. David Simerson and Cory Goetz.

“I think Mark should win this award not because he has done something spectacular, but because he lives customer service and breathes the Hy-Vee culture every day,” said Joe Smillie, assistant store director at Austin Hy-Vee.

The surprise ceremony Thursday involved fellow employees, family members, customers and Hy-Vee executives.

The Legendary Customer Service Awardrecognizes 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.

“The respect that the Austin store staff has for Mark came to light during the morning of the store’s grand re-opening in May. Dan Goshorn, the store director, selected Mark to unlock the doors at 6 a.m. and officially open the store,” said Tom Crocker, Hy-Vee’s district vice president of the northern district. “Mark was very grateful for this honor and it was emotional for not only Mark, but for all of the employees.”

Mark Kanne is inducted into Hy-Vee’s Customer Service Hall of Fame.

Candidates are nominated for the 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 Kanne is exactly the type of employee company officials had in mind when the Legendary Customer Service Award was established in 2006.

“Mark 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 Mark is most deserving of this recognition.”

Kanne and the other 2017 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. They will be 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. And finally, their photos will be prominently featured on the side of Hy-Vee trucks, showcasing their helpful smiles to millions of travelers throughout the Midwest.