2020 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Chris Blanford

Age: 38
Senior Director, Marketing
Litehouse, Inc.
Sandpoint, ID

Since joining Litehouse in 2017, Blanford has had an enormous impact on not just the marketing strategy but the overall business strategy for the company. His data-driven marketing approach has helped Litehouse explore new tactics with proven ROI, and contributed to the company’s market position. Due to his phenomenal track record, Blanford was promoted from director of digital marketing to senior director of marketing in 2019, where he is now responsible for establishing marketing vision, overseeing brand management, innovation, category management, market research, creative services and consumer marketing.

Blanford began his career, after being graduated from the University of Idaho, at Coldwater Creek, where he supported the growth of the retail and online business through management of direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns. After four years, he transitioned to the agency side of the business world spending six years working at full service marketing agencies leading cross-functional teams in developing communication and testing strategies to drive customer retention and engagement. In 2014, he joined Kochava, a software as a service (SaaS) based solution that helps marketers measure and optimize marketing campaigns across connected devices. At Kochava, he held the roles of director of client services and senior director of marketing where he was responsible for the outbound marketing strategy of the company. In 2017, he joined Litehouse as the director of digital marketing before being promoted in 2019 to his current position.

Hobbies: Skiing, Hiking, Boating, Mountain Biking

Family/Personal/Community: Married, two children, Board of Directors–Panhandle Alliance for Education

Motto in life: “Stay positive. Positivity fosters creativity, and creativity shines light on new opportunities.”

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
That it is okay to admit you don’t know something. Embrace your knowledge gaps as an opportunity to better yourself by asking questions.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
What I’m most proud of is that my career progression has come through hard work and treating others with respect and compassion; not by putting down or stepping on others to get ahead.

Q: What do you see as the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?
We are seeing a consumer trend toward transparency in food — from source of ingredients to how products went from farm to table. Transparency will become a lifeline to relevancy and profits for many CPG brands and those that lean into transparency early will come out ahead.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?
In my opinion the biggest change came with Amazon’s announcement that it was acquiring Whole Foods in June of 2017. This was perhaps the single greatest event in modern history to send a shock-wave through the CPG industry. It was this announcement that took the notion of e-commerce grocery shopping at scale from a concept to a reality.

Q: Which social media platform for business do you use the most and why?
I am all about LinkedIn. It’s such a powerful way to stay connected not only to others in the industry, but with partners from earlier in my career such as advertising or PR agencies.

Q: What would you like to be doing in your career when you turn 50?
Inspiring those just entering the industry to push the envelope and challenge the status quo.