Bill Whitacre, President and CEO
Bill Whitacre came to the Boise Valley from the Midwest over a decade ago, attracted by its history of agricultural innovation, as well as its world-class outdoor recreation (Whitacre recently completed a 1500-mile backcountry motorcycle trek from the Boise Valley to the Canadian border).
“The opportunity to ski in the morning and play golf in the afternoon is pretty amazing. The opportunity just within an hour of my home to hit some of the most beautiful places in the western United States is tremendous. People just don’t understand until they’ve experienced it. Once you’ve experienced it, it gets in your blood—it’ll be part of me forever," says Whitacre.
But ultimately, it was the opportunity to work with a world-class agribusiness company that brought him to the valley.
The J.R. Simplot Company started in 1923 when a 14-year-old boy named Jack Simplot quit school and went into business for himself, sorting potatoes in Declo, Idaho. He never looked back. By the early years of World War II, the J.R. Simplot Company had become the largest shipper of fresh potatoes in the country, and by the early 1950's, it had invented the first commercially viable frozen french fries in the world.
Headquartered in Boise, today the J. R. Simplot Company is a vertically integrated, global agribusiness powerhouse and one of the largest privately held companies in America, employing more than 10,000 people worldwide. Nearly a third of those employees reside in the Boise Valley.
Whitacre has never regretted his decision to relocate to the Boise Valley.
“I didn’t really fully appreciate what agriculture was about until I got into this high value, irrigated land and production practices in the West. When I got here I thought I’d found Nirvana because of the opportunities that we have are unique to most places in the world.”
On the local business climate:
“In a word, it’s pretty amazing. In so many other places, you feel like there’s literally a wet blanket thrown over potential opportunities; you don’t get that feeling in Idaho and particularly in the Boise Valley. Government leaders at all levels are here to assist, not hinder, the growth of business and jobs. You're wanted here.”
On the Boise Valley workforce:
“The reason I’ve been so impressed by the workforce available in the Boise Valley is that they have a strong desire to do things right, a strong desire to achieve and to be part of something bigger than just a job. At Simplot, we have an inventory of people with incredible skills, and they want to develop and expand those skills. Our ability to keep this talent base infused within the company is very easy to do in the Boise Valley.”
On the quality of life here:
“People in the Boise Valley get out and do things. They participate in the community. They’re engaged in the community. And the families really appreciate being a part of this area.”
On being headquartered in the Boise Valley:
“We could be based in a lot of different locations in the United States. But we don’t need to be. We can position our company in a location because it works for our families, it works for our shareholders, it works for our communities. We can do this because of technology. We can do this because of the efficiency of our airport.
“Our company will be growing with agriculture and food systems around the world. Boise will act as a funnel of technologies, people and energy to take across those business strategies in many developing economies around the world.”
Advice for companies and talent considering the Boise Valley:
“If I were any company looking at the Boise Valley to move my business or to start a business, the first thing I would do is meet with the existing businesses and have a conversation. There’s a work/life balance here. I think we live and we work and we make things happen, and that’s what the Boise Valley is about.”
To learn more about the food and agricultural industries in the Boise Valley, click here.