Exeter Hannaford bagger takes state title for grocery skillsBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent September 26. 2018 11:49PM
EXETER — Hannaford employee Ross Styles sacked his New Hampshire competition and is now headed to the “National Best Bagger Contest.”
The 25-year-old customer service leader from the Exeter store wowed judges with his bagging skills to take first place in the state’s “Best Bagger Competition” hosted Tuesday by the New Hampshire Grocers Association.
Taking the state title has been a grocery goal for Styles, who began working for Hannaford eight years ago and placed third in the state competition in 2016 and second in 2017.
“I’ve been inching my way toward first place,” he said.
A resident of Exeter, Styles beat out 11 baggers from other grocery stores around the state in the competition that awards points based on speed, weight distribution, bagging accuracy and other factors.
According to Styles, there’s a lot more to bagging than just throwing grocery items into a bag.
“I think some people might think of bagging like anyone can do it and there’s no skill involved, but I would say to compete, especially in this competition, you have to have been bagging for awhile and know what you’re doing,” he said.
Styles was hired as a bagger at a Hannaford in Franklin eight years ago and has worked his way up to a supervisor position at the Exeter store.
He earned a spot in the state competition, held at the New Hampshire Food Bank, after an impressive performance in Hannaford’s own contests over the last three years and is the champion of all Hannaford stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
“The whole competition is meant to highlight the activity of the bagger as being the last person the customer sees in the store, therefore it’s a very important position that seldom gets recognition,” said John Dumais, president and chief executive officer of the New Hampshire Grocers Association.
Given his strong showing at the competition in 2016 and 2017, Dumais said it was clear that Styles was determined to win first place and improved his skills each year.
“We are proud of Ross,” said John Fifield, director of operations for Hannaford in central New Hampshire. “He is our reigning Hannaford Grand Champion for best bagger and a great representative of all Hannaford associates who take pride in serving their customers with care and attention to detail.”
Styles won $250 for the state bagging title and a free trip to San Diego in February for the national contest where he’ll compete against baggers from about 30 other states. The national winner gets a $10,000 prize.