Mark Sprackland, Executive Director & Founder

Mark Sprackland is a leader and veteran of the grocery retail and wholesale business with a 35-year track record of growing sales and profits for a range of retail and wholesale businesses throughout New England.

From 2007-2010 Mark served as Chairman of the Board of Northeast Wholesale Food Distribution Association (NEWFDA), the nation’s oldest food association providing a forum for industry research, education, professional development and exchange of best practices among all levels of the food industry.

A long-time champion of smaller businesses and independent retailers, Mark’s vision for the Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative includes a learning center focused on bringing these same values, lessons, hands on training and growth opportunities to local independents.

Rick Gowell, Chairman

Gowell’s Store, Inc., Litchfield

Rick Gowell’s belief that collaborating with other independent grocers leads to stronger businesses sparked the formation of the Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative. Throughout his high school years, when he wasn’t playing the drums, Rick enjoyed working in the family grocery store that was started by his dad and granddad in 1976. Later on when his dad needed help with operations and management it was only natural for Rick to lend a hand. In 2006 he and his wife Bobbi decided to purchase the store. Today, Gowell’s Store offers customers a convenient shopping experience with a full range of grocery products and fuel service. Plans for a new, larger grocery store are beginning to take shape. A volunteer firefighter and EMT since 1996, Rick takes community involvement and local support seriously. Off duty Rick and Bobbi enjoy spending time with their new grandchild. firefighter and EMT since 1996, Rick takes community involvement and local support seriously. Off duty Rick and Bobbi enjoy spending time with their new grandchild.

Stephen Phair, Vice Chair

Buddies IGA, Oakland

Stephen Phair thinks talking to customers every day is good for business. He and his business partner, George Rancourt, know happy customers are key to running a successful local grocery store. Taking the time to understand what matters to customers has paid off. Buddies IGA is a large, full service, convenient grocery store and a daily destination for many shoppers. Buddies is also an important part of the community. Stephen and George make it a priority to be involved in and responsive to the needs of many local businesses and organizations. It’s no surprise that student sports schedules are routinely posted on the Buddies IGA website. When he isn’t minding the store, Stephen enjoys spending time with his 9 children and 21 grandchildren.

Nate Rudy, Treasurer

City of Hallowell, City Manager

Nate Rudy is currently the City Manager of Hallowell, ME and the founding executive director the Waterville Creates! non-profit arts collaborative of mid-Maine’s largest city. Formerly the Director of Planning and Development for the City of Gardiner and the Executive Director of the Gardiner Board of Trade, and a regional business development specialist for the State of Maine, Nate is a student of agronomy, engineering, and economics who has worked in state and local government and has managed federal, state, and foundation-funded grant programs.


Susan Brown, Secretary

Susan Brown is an artist, writer, and web designer in Northern Maine who spent many years first as an art teacher, and then as a school counselor. She knows first-hand about food production, having been a part of a family-owned potato, vegetable, and strawberry farm and farm store. Sue is the Communications Director for the Maine Landscape and Nursery Association and is involved in Web site maintenance, newsletter production, and record keeping. Her interests include drawing and painting, jewelry design, gardening, and Eighteenth Century reenacting.