Friday, January 14, 2011

Greatness that reaches your appetite. There are few people in our society who can truly be attributed with changing the world and in our generation it is about food. This icon said in 1993, “My theory about politics is that if they will just leave me alone, we’ll do just fine. We pretty much stay home and run chickens.” That was Donald J. Tyson who turned chickens into a global business and died recently from complications of cancer at age 80. He started in a business that was largely built from a depression era industry composed of a trucking and feed venture to becoming a global enterprise with a army of employees and millions of customers in 57 countries.
Few could say they influenced an entire industry. He helped develop McDonald’s Chicken Mc Nuggets and KFC’s Rotisserie Gold while stocking America’s grocery stores with fresh and frozen chickens - killed, cleaned and packaged. Tyson Foods became a household name as he promoted the Rock Cornish game hen as a high-profit specialty item. He spent nearly three decades as the company’s chairman. A financial analyst, Mark A. Plummer said,” He saw that if you added more convenience by further processing the chicken, consumers would pay for it.” Yes, in some cultures women or primary household cooks would kill, pluck and dismember the chicken and then figure how to cook the thing so it would be tasty. Now everyone has to work somewhere else and no one wants to even touch those gizzard things in the bag or find a remnant of a feather left on the thing. Just get something out of the freezer and fry it . Mm good. Thanks Mr. Tyson for your vision. And we will pay 3 times the price for the convenience.
A biography should be made of this man’s life. He knew presidents and members of congress, threw lavish society parties, took glamorous young women to Wall Street meetings, jetted around the world and spent weeks at a time on his yacht fishing off Brazil or Baja California for the fishing trophies that decorated his company headquarters and his homes in Arkansas, England and Mexico. Yet, he looked like a simple farmer. He was a short stocky man with a paunch and a round weather-beaten face. He was no lightweight when it came to business. His motto was, “grow or die” and so his business grew and grew.
Marvin Schwartz who wrote a history of Tyson Foods called, “Tyson: From Farm to Market” said, “And in a state like Arkansas, where there are very few regulatory controls, corporations have more flexibility. The state motto was The Land of Opportunity, and that’s why entrepreneurs like Sam Walton and Don Tyson have made it here.” Incidentally, about 4 of Walton’s relatives of Wal-Mart, are listed in the top ten of most wealthy people in the world.

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