Portland High School Deering High School Casco Bay High School

Mike Vail, DHS 1981

Mike Vail started stocking shelves at a family grocery store in Bridgton, ME, the summer between freshman and sophomore year at Deering High School  Nearly four decades later, he is the CEO of Hannaford, a grocery chain with 30,000 employees. Through the years, he has seen a lot of resumes. No matter what he was hiring for— bagging clerk or Chief Financial Officer—a resume that mentions team sports always gets his attention.  


“A football team’s not going to be successful without 22 people each being successful on the field,” he said. “At Hannaford, we say that we are a people business that sells groceries. When you have participated on a team, you realize how much the people around you influence your performance, sometimes in ways you don’t realize until after the fact.”  

Vail played football and basketball throughout high school and ran track in the spring ”to stay in shape and out of trouble,” he laughed. Deering competed in the State Championship game in football during Vail’s first year on the team, but he had to sit out much of the next season because of a dislocated shoulder. Despite a shoulder injury, he went on to finish his high school playing days and enjoyed a strong four-year playing career at Colby College.

He fondly remembers his Deering coaches, Brian Gordon and Tigh Curran, and his English teacher Steve Romanoff. “I was pretty good in math and science, but English was never my strongest subject.  Steve was my junior English teacher, and he taught in a way that made you want to learn. I’ve enjoyed following his band Schooner Fare through the years.” 

Vail married his high school sweetheart, Andrea Guidi, and the pair have three daughters, ages 26 to 32. Now that the girls are grown, he has found more time for volunteer work. He’s on the advisory board of the University of Tampa entrepreneur program and chairs the Tocqueville Society of the United Way of Southern Maine. 

Vail is excited by the influx of immigrants in Maine, bringing talented and motivated people to the workforce. “At first, a lot of the immigrants didn’t know how to handle money or how to handle certain things because of the language barrier. We worked with shift leads and translators to get them trained up. Now, we’re hiring folks through Prosperity Maine and In Her Presence and have new Mainers moving into management positions. These folks will help Maine become a global powerhouse, not just a nice place to visit in the summertime,” he said. 

Showing 4 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Janet Miller
    commented 2024-02-14 20:18:42 -0500
    I enjoyed reading this so much about a fellow Deering High School Alumni and how he is working to make the community stronger!
    I wish his graduation year was mentioned as well.
  • Benitia Thompson
    commented 2024-02-14 18:46:52 -0500
    I wish the article would have said what year he graduated.
  • Dave Fearon
    commented 2024-02-14 16:43:14 -0500
    As a fellow DHS (‘61) and Colby (’65") alum, I am moved by Mike’s story. Those teachers and coaches found us diamonds in the rough and sent us out in the world to work well and do good works.
  • Kendra Kuehl
    published this page in Alumni Stories 2024-02-14 08:19:20 -0500