Hy-Vee Store Director Has Long Relationship with the Company
Kevin Sherlock often tells people with a chuckle that he started his career by bagging groceries at the North Dodge Hy-Vee in Iowa City to pay for his senior prom.
Sherlock, who now is store director at Hy-Vee South on Waterfront Drive, has been with the company ever since that first job in high school, moving around the Midwest to work at various Hy-Vee stores.
"It's a fantastic company," he said. "You basically get to own your own business with no money down."
Now, the Iowa City native, who holds a degree in finance from the University of Iowa, works just a few blocks from the house he grew up in.
"I shopped at the original Hy-Vee with my dad on Saturday mornings," he said. "Now my dad comes in here to shop on Saturday mornings and I help him find items on my mom's list."
What sets Hy-Vee apart from other companies is the autonomy each store is allowed despite the company's corporate structure, Sherlock said.
"The day-to-day operational decisions are made at a store level," he said. "We decide what items to carry, who to hire, who to promote. The local events and the specials we do locally are our decisions as well."
That makes a huge difference, he said, because it allows the store to price its products in reaction to the demand and health of the local market rather than what's happening across the entire Midwest.
"Those are our decisions to make rather than someone who is a couple hundred miles or a couple thousand miles away," Sherlock said.
The independence also allows the store to stock local items that wouldn't necessarily be in Hy-Vee stores in other states. Customers can request specific items, and the store doesn't need outside approval to stock them, he said.
After getting his start working several positions at the North Dodge Hy-Vee, Sherlock transferred to a store in Faribault, Minn., then Marion, Burlington, and Canton, Ill. Before taking over as store director at the Waterfront Hy-Vee in October 2010, he had been the store director at a Cedar Rapids Hy-Vee since 2005.
Jan Nichols, manager of store operations at Waterfront Hy-Vee, worked for Sherlock at the Cedar Rapids store and said she transferred to Iowa City specifically to work for him.
"Hands down, his No. 1 priority is customer service and friendliness," she said. "I really feel in that year, that we have improved customer service and friendliness. I'm glad that's his No. 1 focus."
Nichols also said she appreciates the store's freedom to make its own decisions, and praised Sherlock for protecting that.
"He never puts any restrictions on anything," she said, "so he's allowing us to be creative, to do what we want to draw customers into our store."