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Hy-Vee named Large Business of Year

Culligan, Vern eide Chevrolet also get top honors

Albert Lea’s Hy-Vee was named the Large Business of the Year Thursday at the annual Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce membership celebration at Wedgewood Cove.

Hy-Vee was awarded for donating its time and resources to local causes, such as to the Albert Lea dog park, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee, figure skating and to other causes, said Randy Kehr, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.

Of the store’s more than 250 employees, 32 employees have at least 15 years of experience, Kehr said; 15 have 10 to 14 years of employment, and 30 have five to nine years of employment.

“They take care of their employees,” Kehr said.

Albert Lea Hy-Vee was named the Champion of the Outstanding Local Business category in September for the Special Olympics.

Named as Medium Business of the Year was Vern Eide Chevrolet.

Kehr said the dealership has almost tripled its number of employees since it opened in 2011 in Albert Lea.

“They are very committed to the community,” he said, noting the business has been an annual sponsor of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours.

The dealership also partners with the chamber on the annual recognition of the Albert Lea Teacher of the Year Award and works with Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited.

Kehr said Vern Eide has a strong commitment to customer satisfaction and customer service.

Named as Small Business of the Year was Culligan.

Kehr said the business donates water to approximately 20 events per year.

“We are just very proud of what they do in terms of meeting the needs of the community,” he said.

Kehr noted his appreciation of the customer service of the company’s five employees.

Brenda Reed was named as Ambassador of the Year, and Perry Vining was awarded a Lifetime Member Award.

Stephanie Haedt was named Volunteer of the Year.

Worksite wellness awards were also presented, and Albert Lea Blue Zones Project leaders received special recognition for the city’s status as a Blue Zones certified community.

It was the chamber’s 136th annual meeting and membership celebration.

The speaker was Kristina Schoh, brand director of Courtesy Corporation-McDonald’s.

Kehr said businesses play a vital role in the community.

“The business community leads a lot of the community’s giving,” he said. “Those businesses support our community in ways that are not necessarily visible.”