More than 60 years have passed since John Tyson drove his battered truck to Chicago to deliver a load of 500 Arkansas chickens.
Tyson heard that chickens were bringing a better price in northern markets, so he cashed in his savings and borrowed the rest of the money he needed to finance the trip. He sold the birds for a profit of $235, $220 of which he wired home to pay on his debts and buy another load of birds.
Out of that trip sprung the foundations of a company that would revolutionize the poultry industry. We invite you to walk through time and discover how the world's largest poultry company rose out of the soil of Northwest Arkansas.
John Tyson moved to Springdale, Arkansas, with his wife and one-year-old son, Don. He made a living hauling hay, fruit, and chickens for local growers.
Inching northward, John Tyson made frequent poultry deliveries to Kansas City and St. Louis.
John pioneered the first long-haul trip from Arkansas to the more lucrative Chicago poultry markets. Within a year, he had extended his hauls to Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, Memphis, and Houston. When shortages of baby chicks threatened his trucking business, John bought a hatchery. When he couldn’t get the feed he needed, he started a commercial feed business, grinding and mixing his own.
Because the company already had the chicks, the grain to feed them, and a trucking company to haul the grown chickens to market, the Tyson organization invested in a grower farm.
Tyson Feed and Hatchery was incorporated. John Tyson and Herman Calico formed the marketing and transportation partnership called Tyson & Calico.
By 1952, 19 other companies in the Springdale area had jumped on the poultry bandwagon. Don Tyson left his agricultural studies at the University of Arkansas to join his father’s battle against a vulnerable and fluctuating market. When their rollercoaster ride hit a low, with the market and poultry diseases taking their toll, the Swanson Company offered to buy the Tyson business. But now, as in the past, adversity fueled John’s determination. With his son at his side, the "Tyson Team" pushed forward.
Tyson built its first processing plant on the north side of Springdale.
Tyson entered the commercial egg business.
The corporation went public. The name was changed to Tyson’s Foods. The circle already complete from egg to processing plant, Tyson made its first significant acquisition with the purchase of Garrett Poultry Company in Rogers, Arkansas. With an "expand or expire" strategy, 19 other acquisitions marked the path between 1966 and 1989.
Don Tyson was named President of the company.
Tragedy struck the Tyson family. John and Helen Tyson were killed in a car/train accident in Springdale.
Tyson opened retail outlets called "Chicken Huts."
With broiler sales reaching 72 million, Tyson’s Foods hit the Fortune 1000 chart.
The name was changed to Tyson Foods, as it is to this day.
Tyson purchased hog-production facilities in North Carolina. By the end of 1979, Tyson was shipping 7,500 hogs a week, distinguishing it as the nation’s largest hog producer.
Tyson Foods debuts on the Fortune 500 chart.
Diversification continued with the purchase of Mexican Original in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Before long, Tyson was the leading producer of corn and flour tortilla products in the nation.
Tyson advanced to the number-one position for poultry processing. The Tyson Management Development Center, located in Russellville, Arkansas, was opened.
Corporate headquarters expansion projects were started at the Springdale Complex.
Pushing forward with the acquisition of Holly Farms, the nation’s third largest poultry firm, Tyson nearly doubled its already impressive 13.5 percent of the national market share.
Marking another big diversification, Tyson leaped into the seafood business with the purchase of Arctic Alaska Fisheries, Inc., and Louis Kemp Seafood.
Tyson was shipping products to 54 countries abroad.
Tyson brought both Cargill’s U.S. broiler operations and McCarty Farms, Inc., into the fold. Tyson also purchased Culinary Foods of Chicago, which manufactures some 700 complementary food items from French toast to seafood entrees. About 45 percent of Culinary’s business is supplying food for airlines.
Tyson acquired Mallard's Food Products of Modesto, California, an innovator in culinary development and manufacture of refrigerated-fresh entrees. Mallard's is also the nation's third-largest producer of refrigerated gourmet pasta and sauce products.
Tyson solidified its position as the world’s largest poultry producer by merging with long-time competitor Hudson Foods. John Tyson becomes Chairman of the Board.
Tyson reorganized to concentrate more on the customer. Business groups were created to realign as specific marketing groups, such as retail, foodservice and international.
Tyson Foods celebrates its 65th anniversary with family gatherings across the country. John Tyson adds title of CEO.
Tyson becomes the world's largest processor and marketer of not only chicken, but also red meat with the acquisition of beef and pork powerhouse, IBP, Inc.