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Young Talent Revs Business at SafeWay Driving


Chelsea Sauder, left, and Ann Littmann are two new VPs at SafeWay Driving schools.

If it seems the people in the corner office (or more likely today, at their standup desks in the middle of an open floor plan) are getting younger and younger, Safeway Driving Schools’ two new vice presidents are cases in point.

“I’m 27,” says Ann Littmann, who began at the Texas-based driving school as a marketing intern, became director of operations and today is vice president, although at Safeway they don’t specify vice president of what (presumably another millennial thing).

 “I’m 26. I’m the young one,” says Chelsea Sauder with a laugh, formerly director of digital experience and technology at SafeWay and now recently named a VP.

The cool thing is how the two women are transforming a 43-year-old company, which was purchased a few years ago by private investors from co-founders Gene Walker, 72, and his wife, Jeanne, 70. Yet they’re still honoring the founders’ vision, showing how to build a bridge across the so-called generational divide.

“It was an old-school driving school, with paper records, an old classroom. We revolutionized it so everything is online only,” explains Littmann. “We started looking at expansion options. We chose franchising because we wanted people who were just as passionate as Coach Walker” about teaching safe driving.

I’ll bring you more of their story in an upcoming edition of Franchise Times. But if you want to know how to motivate the youngest generation in the workforce, take a look at their philosophy about their VP credentials at such a young age.

“The title is nice but the thing that makes me get out of bed in the morning is we have the opportunity to really make a difference,” says Littmann. “We do something that really makes an impact and really saves lives, and not everybody gets to do that.” That’s classic millennial thinking, and a breath of fresh air.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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