BOSTON — One of New England’s leading retail produce managers is leaving the only company he has worked for to open his own grocery store.

In mid-April, Will Wedge, second vice president of the New England Produce Council board and longtime director of produce and floral merchandising for Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford Bros. Co., opened Will’s Shop ‘n Save, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.

Fellow council leaders honored Wedge at the April 27 New England Produce Council Produce and Floral Expo.

Council board member Robert McGowan, director of produce of Foxboro-based Advantage New England, a part of Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Sales & Marketing, said Wedge is a key part of the organization.

“Although he’s only been in our business for part of his varied career, his passion for the business has left an indelible mark for our industry and council,” McGowan said. “He has been acknowledged as a leader, a collaborator and an innovator.”

Wedge began as a part-time bagger for Hannaford during the late 1970s. He later advanced to a store manager, category manager and produce manager.

Council president Jack Salamon, senior category manager for Shaw's Supermarkets Inc., East Bridgewater, said Wedge’s resignation from council leadership represents a big industry loss.

He said Wedge possesses fortitude to strike out on his own and leave a large retail organization where individuals don’t always get their way in key decisions that are often made by committees.

“We are all a bit jealous,” Salamon said. “This is a big achievement for him. I was impressed when I saw a picture of him on a scaffold painting a wall in his store. He shows up at the store early before it opens and does maintenance. As an owner, he wears many hats.”

Wedge, who has served on the council for six years and led the expo committee, said he was surprised to receive the recognition. He said he has long wanted to become a store owner-operator and said he finally developed the backbone to take the plunge.

“Produce is addicting,” Wedge said. “It’s in my DNA. We all know that. I promise to do a great job with all your produce items in my tiny little store in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.”

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Will Wedge (left), former director of produce and floral merchandising for Hannaford Bros. Co., Scarborough, Maine, is honored by the New England Produce Council’s Robert McGowan, director of produce of Foxboro, Mass.-based Advantage Sales & Marketing New England, during the April 27 New England Produce Council Produce and Floral Expo. Wedge is starting his own grocery store in Maine.