Hy-Vee’s Tyler Miller Wins Iowa’s Best Bagger Title

DES MOINES, Iowa – Who can bag your groceries without breaking your eggs or squishing your bread and get you on your way quickly? Tyler Miller can. Miller, who works for Hy-Vee in West Des Moines, finished first in the Iowa Best Bagger contest on Friday, August 8, at the Iowa State Fair, claiming Iowa’s Best Bagger title, a trophy, a $500 cash prize and a trip to Las Vegas.

photo: 2014 Iowa Best Bagger Contest competitors (From left to right), first row: Chris Kirsch, Fareway, Storm Lake; Ben O'Neal, Fareway, Boone; Oscar Rivas, Fareway, Boone; David Nelson, Fareway, Cedar Falls; Maddie McCormick, Fareway, Clive; and Jake McLaughlin, Fareway, Nevada. Second row: Bethany Rospond, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines; Tyler Miller, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines; Andrew Buckley, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines; Andrew Beier, Hy-Vee, Ankeny; Timothy Barton, Fareway, Fort Dodge; and Alex Palmer, Scott's Foods, Norwalk. Third row: Dallas Lehman, Hy-Vee, Johnston; Jenni Stoberl, West Street Market, Manning; Robert Dentlinger, Hy-Vee, Boone; Michaeljohn Gray, Hy-Vee, Cedar Rapids; and Tim Hamman, Hy-Vee Windsor Heights.

“Tyler completed three heats with great speed but what really clinched the competition was the weight distribution between the grocery bags,” said Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, which hosts the event annually at the Iowa State Fair. “His grocery bags had good composition and were nearly equal every time.”

“Bagging groceries is an important point of contact with customers and can be a factor in whether a customer returns to the store,” she added.

Out of the three heats, Miller’s greatest weight distribution difference between bags was only eight ounces, which meant he did not receive any deductions.

Miller, 27, who grew up in Urbandale and currently lives in Beaverdale, will go on to represent Iowa at the 2015 National Grocers Association Best Bagger Contest in Las Vegas in February, and has a chance to win an additional $10,000. With 12 years of grocery bagging experience, Miller will attempt to be the sixth person from Iowa to win a national title and the first since 2000. The five previous national winners from Iowa were Fareway employees. Miller would be the first from Hy-Vee.

“This feels pretty awesome. I’ve been at it for a couple of years now so it was nice to hear my name called first this year,” Miller said about winning. “I’m excited to go to Vegas. I’ve never been there before. Regardless of whether I win or not, it will be an honor to represent the state of Iowa at the national event.”

Before making it to the Iowa Best Bagger competition, Miller competed in Hy-Vee’s internal qualifying competition. The top eight finishers qualified to compete for Hy-Vee at the State Fair.

Placing second in the Iowa Best Bagger competition was David Nelson, 22, of the Cedar Falls Fareway, receiving $250. Tim Hamman, who works at the Hy-Vee in Windsor Heights, placed third, receiving $150. Ben O'Neal, who works at Fareway in Boone, and Timothy Barton, who works at the Fareway in Fort Dodge, tied for fourth place and received $100.

Miller began his career in the grocery industry when he was 15, working as a bagger in the Urbandale store. He also worked at the Johnston store for three years, the Valley West store for five years and the Hy-Vee store on S.51st Street in West Des Moines for the past three years.

A total of 18 individuals took part in the 2014 Best Bagger event, which celebrated its 27th year at the Iowa State Fair. Contestants bagged identical grocery orders consisting of approximately 40 commonly purchased items into three plastic grocery bags. They were scored and ranked primarily on speed and weight distribution among bags, but proper item arrangement is also taken into account.

Reusable bags were incorporated in the finals again this year in the Iowa Best Bagger Contest for the sixth year. The finals consist of two heats – one with plastic bags and one with reusable bags.

Also members of the crowd had a chance to win one of several gift cards for answering grocery industry trivia questions.

Eddie Hatfield, morning radio show host on KJJY 92.5; Jackie Schmillen, host of the Great Day Morning Show on KCWI-23; and ABC 5 Sports Director Dave Zawilinski as well as 2013 Iowa Best Bagger Champion Matt Munstermann (Hy-Vee, Altoona) competed in the Celebrity Best Bagger competition this year. Zawalinski emerged victorious and will donate the $250 prize to his chosen charity, The Make-A-Wish Foundation. The donation was made possible by Fareway Stores Inc. 

Companies sponsoring the 2014 Iowa Best Bagger Contest include the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Coca-Cola and Hilex Poly. Prize sponsors include Hiland Dairy, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Cookies Food Products and Pepsi. All non-perishable food items used in the competition were donated to the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines.

Congratulations to the 2014 Iowa Best Bagger Award Winners: (Left to right) Tim Hamman,
Hy-Vee, Windsor Heights, placed third, receiving $150 prize; Tyler Miller, who works at Hy-Vee in West Des Moines, took first place and $500 in the 2014 Iowa Best Bagger Competition on Friday, August 8, at the Iowa State Fair. Tyler also receives a trip to Las Vegas in February to represent Iowa in the national bagger contest. Ben O'Neal, Fareway, Boone, and Timothy Barton, Fareway, Fort Dodge, tied for fourth place and received $100. David Nelson, Fareway, Cedar Falls, placed second and received $250.



IGIA President Michelle Hurd and Fareway Stores Vice President of Sales Development Jeff Stearns visited ABC5 studio bringing with them the traveling Celebrity Bagger trophy for Sports Director Dave Zawilinski and one over-sized check made out to Make-A-Wish Foundation for $250. Ashley Dockendorf, the organization's director of community relations, accepted the check on behalf of Make-A-Wish Iowa. Zawilinski emerged victorious in the Celebrity Bagger portion of the competition against Eddie Hatfield of KJJY 92.5 and Jackie Schmillen, host of the Great Day morning show for KCWI-23. This donation was made possible by Fareway Stores Inc. IGIA matched Fareway's donation with another $250.