Tyson Foods Legacy Forged On Tough Times, Risk Taking

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

"He had a great sense of humor and a sharp mind. He had a clear way of reasoning and explaining things, of distilling information down to one page of what we were going to do and how it would work out."

Womack said Tyson enjoyed accompanying him on sales calls.

"He was good," he said. "Of course, his name was on the company. Don would endear himself to them. They loved him."

Buddy Wray declined to contribute any anecdotes when asked about Tyson's well-earned reputation for playing as hard as he worked.

"Oh, I have some more Don Tyson stories," Wray said with a laugh. "But I don't want to see them in print. I might've been part of them."

Who Controls Tyson Foods?

Tyson Foods Inc. has broadened its ownership in a massive way since its meager 100,000-share IPO that raised more than $1 million nearly 48 years ago.

Today, outstanding shares of its Class A stock total 307,124,999, worth more than $5.1 billion based on the recent closing price of $16.78.

But control of the corporation has always remained with the Tyson family. That status quo was further protected in 1986 when the company expanded its stock structure to include Class B shares as part of its reincorporation in Delaware.

Each Class B share vote equals 10 Class A share votes, and those controlling Class B shares are controlled by the Tyson family. Here's a breakdown of those Class B shares:

Tyson Limited Partnership holds a 69.8 percent voting control through 70 million shares of Class B stock.

Control of TLP is divided among its general partners, which hold a combined 1.257 percent stake in the limited partnership. The managing general partner of TLP was Don Tyson, chairman emeritus and former CEO.

After Tyson's death, the general partnership is divided among:

  • The Tyson Partnership Interest Trust, 44.44 percent. Trustees are Leland Tollett, retired chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods; Harry C. Erwin III, managing partner of the Little Rock accounting firm of Erwin & Co., which has done consulting and tax-related services for the Tyson family and Tyson Foods for many years; and Thomas B. Schueck, chairman and CEO of Lexicon Inc., a Little Rock steel fabrication, engineering and construction company.
  • The TPI Trust terminates Dec. 31, 2016. Upon termination of the TPI Trust, the general partnership interest held by the TPI Trust will transfer to the Donald J. Tyson Revocable Trust, whose trustees are Schueck, Erwin and John Tyson, chairman of the board and son of Don Tyson.
  • John Tyson, 33.33 percent.
  • Barbara Tyson, director and widow of Don Tyson's brother, Randal, 11.115 percent.
  • Harry C. Erwin III, 11.115 percent.

Remaining Tyson LP ownership is divided among:

  • Tyson 2009 Family Trust, 53.4881 percent. Don Tyson was the sole beneficiary.
  • Randal W. Tyson Testamentary Trust, the namesake trust of Tyson's late brother, 45.2549 percent. The sole income beneficiary is Randal Tyson's widow, Barbara Tyson, a director with the company. John Tyson is one of the contingent beneficiaries.

According to the Jan. 6 securities filing by Tyson Foods, Tyson LP terminates Dec. 31, 2040.



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