Tyson Foods Legacy Forged On Tough Times, Risk Taking

by George Waldon  on Monday, Jan. 31, 2011 12:00 am  

"Don always recognized people potential and the synergistic effect of business combinations," Haskell Jackson said.

"That was always the guiding principle he worked on. I don't know where he picked it up, but he had it early on.

"He always focused on the intangible benefits of a business more so than his dad, who focused on the tangible items."

'Don Said So'

Gerald Johnston recalls Tyson making an impression with the investment community when he was questioned about the opening of a $50 million processing plant in Pine Bluff.

The plant, which opened in 1991, largely was dedicated to producing chicken for KFC's Lite 'n' Crispy and Hot Wings lines.

An analyst asked Tyson how much money per pound the company expected to make from the plant's weekly processing capacity of more than 3 million pounds.

"Do you want me to be honest with you?" Tyson said.

"Sure," replied the analyst.

"I don't have the foggiest idea," Tyson said.

"Of course, the investment community loved that because they figured if he was honest about not knowing something, they could trust what he said," Johnston said.

He recalls fielding a call from an investment analyst asking for more supporting data to show how the company was going to achieve Don Tyson's goal of doubling sales every five years.



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