With more than 82,000 employees across a corporate world that has grown to include 264 stores, Jim McDonnell, a meat specialist at Hy-Vee’s West Broadway store, was named a winner of Hy-Vee’s Legendary Customer Service Award on Thursday.

The award is the most prestigious offered by the company.

McDonnell, a 35-year Hy-Vee veteran, was one of 11 employees company-wide who received the award this year. One employee is selected annually from each of Hy-Vee’s 11 districts to receive the award. McDonnell became one of just 119 Hy-Vee employees who have received the award since it was initiated in 2006.

McDonnell’s selection for the award marks the second time in as many years that a Council Bluffs Hy-Vee employee has been chosen. In 2017, Ron Coffey, customer service manager at the Madison Avenue Hy-Vee Store, was one of nine to earn the Legendary Customer Service Award.

Brad Neely, manager of the West Broadway Hy-Vee, termed McDonnell’s focus on customer service “above and beyond.” “When you think of service, you think of Jim,” he said.

Frank Woodward, senior vice president of Hy-Vee’s Western Region, thanked McDonnell “for being such a great leader for new employees. You exemplify to them the importance of taking care of our customers.”

Courtney Brobst, Hy-Vee district vice president for the Western Region, read a framed letter from Hy-Vee President and CEO Randy Edeker thanking McDonnell for his years of service to the company and his legendary focus on serving his customers.

The selection process for the Legendary Customer Service Award begins with nominations by fellow employees. The next step is a review of letters sent by customers. The final selection is made by Hy-Vee’s top tier of executives.

McDonnell joined Hy-Vee in 1983 as a meat cutter in Omaha and has worked in the meat department for his entire 35-year career with the company. He came to the Council Bluffs store four years ago after serving as meat manager in Omaha for 28 years.

“I was 64 when I came to the Council Bluffs store as a part-time meat cutter. I was old enough to retire when I came here, but I wanted to have something to do — to keep engaged,” he said.

“My health is good, I like what I do and I like being engaged with people,” McDonnell said. “Someday I might wake up and decide it’s time to retire, but I don’t have any such plans right now.”

As for his hobbies, McDonnell said he likes to golf and “watch his 10 grandkids” — seven of whom were at the store as he was honored — grow.

As the recipient of the Legendary Customer Service Award, McDonnell and his family will be invited to Des Moines for Hy-Vee’s annual service awards dinner and will also be recognized at the annual stockholders meeting. His picture will also appear on Hy-Vee trailers. He will receive a vacation package for his family, but he has not selected where they will go.

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