Don Tyson was born in Olathe, Kansas, in 1930 and moved with his parents, John and Mildred Tyson, to Northwest Arkansas in 1931. Following his early education in the Springdale Public Schools, Don furthered his education at the Kemper Military Academy in Booneville, Missouri, and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Don is the proud father of three children - a son, John, and two daughters, Carla and Cheryl.
Don Tyson’s stellar career in the poultry business began in 1952 when he joined his Father’s poultry operation, then known as Tyson’s Feed and Hatchery. From 1952 until 1958, Don and his Father worked very closely developing and building their poultry feed and live production business. That dedication and hard work lead to the opening of their first poultry processing plant on Randall Road in Springdale, I Arkansas, in 1958. With this venture, Tyson’s Feed and Hatchery became the first fully integrated poultry firm in Arkansas, and Don Tyson was the company’s first plant manager. Under the leadership of John W. Tyson, the company bought Garrett Poultry in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1963, which proved to be the first of many future acquisitions. That year also saw the initial public offering of stock in the newly named company---Tyson Foods, Inc.
In January of 1967, tragedy befell the Tyson Family with the untimely death of John W. Tyson and his wife, Helen, due to a fatal automobile-train collision. That life-altering event propelled the leadership role of Tyson Foods, Inc. directly into the capable hands---at age 36---of Don Tyson. Under Don’s strong and steady leadership, Tyson Foods, Inc. further expanded in 1967 by acquiring Franz Foods in Green Forest, Arkansas, making that facility the third plant to be operated by Tyson Foods.
Under the careful eye and strong leadership of Don Tyson as Chairman, President and CEO of Tyson Foods, Inc., the company grew internally over the next 25 years and completed 23 more acquisitions of poultry and other food processing facilities. In 1994, Tyson Foods became the 1l0"' largest manufacturing company on the Fortune 500 listing.
When Don stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Tyson Foods, Inc. in April of 1995 and assumed the role of Senior Chairman, Tyson Foods was the world’s largest producer, processor and marketer of poultry and poultry-based food products. Don’s son, John Tyson, now serves as Tyson Foods’ Chairman of the Board, President and CEO. The company currently produces, processes and markets 45 million chickens per week. With sales of other products, Tyson’s combined revenues in 1999 totaled $7.2 billion. Worldwide, the current Tyson team numbers 65,000 associates. Tyson Foods operates 70 food processing facilities in 17 states. A
In North Carolina, the name Tyson Foods, Inc. is certainly well-known and respected as both an industry if pioneer and a solid industry leader. It currently operates facilities in Wilkesboro, Monroe, Sanford, Harmony, Creswell, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, and employs statewide over 5,000 team members. A key component in the success of Tyson’s commitment to consistently provide only the highest quality food products for its consumers is the close relationship it maintains with its 600 grower families spanning eight North Carolina counties. Tyson Foods provides jobs and a steady income to thousands of North Carolina citizens and positively impacts the state’s overall economy, contributing to the success of many allied industries, as well.
In honor of Don Tyson’s vision, his pioneering spirit, and his exemplary leadership skills in propelling Tyson Foods, Inc. into a model of entrepreneurial success; and in honor of his numerous contributions to the growth and development of the poultry food industry in both North Carolina and the nation, the Officers and Directors of the North Carolina Poultry Federation are very pleased to induct Don Tyson into the North Carolina Poultry Hall of Fame.
August 18, 2000