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Innovation championed at Treasure Valley Business Breakfast

When Joe Albertson founded his first grocery store in 1939 on 16th and State St. in Boise, Idaho, three of the main selling points for visitors included a parking lot, a magazine rack, and a donut machine — just a handful of the innovations that allowed Albertson to grow his company into the second largest supermarket chain in the United States.

Shane Sampson, currently the Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer for Albertsons, shared this story at Friday morning’s 4th Annual Treasure Valley Business Breakfast at The College of Idaho — Albertson’s alma mater — to emphasize the same spirit of innovation and differentiation continues to drive not only the philosophy of Albertsons Companies, but of successful businesses all over the community.

“The successful folks you see today are finding ways to disrupt the space and make it better,” Sampson said to a packed room of Treasure Valley business professionals and C of I business students. “We’re talking about innovation, ways to stand out as something unique and different. And if you’re not moving fast, look out, because someone else will step in front.”

Sampson served as the keynote speaker for the annual breakfast, which serves as a popular Homecoming event for the College as well as an opportunity for local business leaders and C of I alumni across many industries to network and interact with some of the College’s brightest business undergraduates. This year’s breakfast hosted over 100 attendees from all over the Treasure Valley.

Sampson brings over 35 years of experience in the grocery industry, including serving as president in several of the company’s operating divisions including Florida, Intermountain, Shaws/Star Market, and Jewel Osco. He was appointed EVP & Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer following the company’s merger with Safeway in January 2015.

Sampson reflected on the positives a liberal arts education, like what is offered at The College of Idaho, can bring toward business success, noting the ways experience in the liberal arts can come together to breed unique and well-structured ideas. Sampson again harkened back to the days of Joe Albertson, who utilized his personal skills in making ice cream as another way to stand out from other grocery stores and better relate to customers.

“I think today more than ever, you need to have a broad set of experiences and studies you can use,” Sampson said. “A liberal arts education gives us the ability to ask the question ‘What if?’ It allows you to see the ways you can continue to evolve and continue to change. Those are traits that are very important to the success of any company.”

Sampson also took the time to speak directly to the students in attendance, many of whom sat at the tables of the businesses that helped sponsor the event. He said on top of building up a variety of skills and experiences, it was also important to have a passion for whatever one chooses to do.

“Whatever you do and whatever you choose to innovate, I believe that in your heart, you need to love what you’re doing and have passion for it,” Sampson said.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit