Hy-Vee surprises cake decorator with award; she came to the rescue for a customer

Lori Vieth, center in white, was honored by Hy-Vee for customer service.

Lori Vieth has never met a pastry bag she couldn't master.

“There are some pretty bad ones out there, but I've managed,” said Vieth, 47.

The cake decorator earned Hy-Vee's top customer service award this week for being quick on the draw.

Each year, the West Des Moines-based grocery retailer selects 10 winners from among 66,000 employees to receive the company's Legendary Customer Service Award, which was established in 2006.

Vieth, who has been with Hy-Vee for 25 years, was one of this year's winners. She has been the recipient of scores of compliments over the years praising her “talents and her willingness to go the extra mile,” said Jim Simmons, store director of the Hy-Vee at 108th and Fort Streets where Vieth works.

Cake in point: A women in need of a bridal shower cake recently called the store in a panic. It was just four hours before the event and the cake that the maid-of-honor and her friends had tried to duplicate from a photo on Pinterest didn't look anything like the picture.

“They sent the photo to my iPhone,” Vieth said. “It was a wedding dress made out of cupcakes.”

Vieth grabbed her pastry bag and went to work.

“She instantly accepted the challenge,” the customer wrote Simmons. “I couldn't have even asked for a more beautiful cake. It was the center piece of the shower, and everyone was taking pictures of it and commenting how unique and pretty it was.”

Co-worker Molly Gard nominated Vieth for the honor. “Lori is a huge asset to our store,” Gard wrote. “She can turn an everyday event into an occasion to remember.”

Hy-Vee officials surprised Vieth with the award Tuesday morning. “They told us they were coming to film a bakery ad,” she said.

“The key to customer service lies in how you react and handle the situation. Lori is the best at turning bad into good. She comes to the rescue...” Jamie Franck, Hy-Vee's assistant vice president of operations said in presenting the award.

Vieth said she learned her cake decorating skills from a fellow employee in the mid-1990s.

“She showed me the basics....I played with icing at home and practiced on my children's cupcakes,” said Vieth, who likes to say she “tripped over a spatula and ended up with a job.”

But decorating confections is only the frosting on the cake. She said there's nothing better than handing a cake to a customer who is in the store with a child, “and seeing that child's eyes light up.”

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