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Someone You Should Know: Over Four Decades of Dedication

Sioux Falls man has worked his way up the ranks in Hy-Vee meat department
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 8:38 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - How many people can say they’ve worked for the same company since high school? A Sioux Falls man has gone from a part-time job stocking shelves and bagging groceries at a grocery store in his teen years all the way to a management position. As he made his way up the ladder, he has held onto an important quality: people skills.

“I hear ‘meat guy’ a lot, so, ‘the meat guy,’ yeah I hear that a lot,” says Mike Steffen, meat market manager for Hy-Vee’s Minnesota Avenue location.

The 59-year-old has called Sioux Falls home his entire life. He was born and raised here and makes a living here. It all started back in 1977 with a phone call, but not from Hy-Vee.

“I had a friend call me in high school, he had a job interview and his car wouldn’t start and he asked me to give him a ride to Hy-Vee, I didn’t even know what it was, it was out by 41st street and the Empire. I told him he had to pay for my gas, ‘cause back then we had to pay for our gas, mom and dad didn’t do that. So we fought over that a little bit. I gave him a ride, sat there and waited while he interviewed. The store manager at the time came in, bought me a bottle of pop, didn’t have canned pop. We talked and I got a call Monday before school and asked if I’d like to get a job and I said I’d try it.” He goes on to say, “I tried to quit in ’79 when I graduated. I was going to do National College of Business, I didn’t want to go to college, but I was going to try National College of Business in accounting. I went in to put my two weeks in and that same store manager bought me another bottle of pop and I walked in to quit and I walked out a full-time meat employee. And I never left.”

Mike says he had good mentors and teachers in the meat department. He worked his way up the ranks, taking on new challenges.

“I knew how to cut meat and I knew how to talk to people.”

Mike is a people person. That was obvious just in the hour we spent with him shooting this story.

“It’s fun to talk to the customers, it really is. The questions you get asked and the way they worry about their dinner and the meal and how they stress over that and you try to help them out and ease their pain as best you can… I tell my new recruits that we want the customer to come back here and ask us ‘where’s the bread, where’s the soup, where’s the milk?’ We’ll take you where you need to go, that’s what we’re here for.”

He has been a meat manager for about 20 years. “I love the interaction with the people, I love the challenge for myself of ‘What are you going to do this week to make it appealing for the customer?’ working with my employees, I think I’ve got the best team in Sioux Falls, but I’m kind of prejudice,” he says, smiling.

In the 43 years he’s worked for Hy-Vee, looking back, he has no regrets. “I knew the company was genuine, I knew the company was solid, I knew it was something I wouldn’t have to worry about with my family.”

So what about that next chapter: retirement?

“My wife says I’m going to retire when I’m 62. But, to be honest, it’s in God’s hands. As long as I’m healthy and I feel good, I’ll keep working.”

When Mike does retire, he plans to spend even more time with his grandchildren, who all live in town.

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