John W. Tyson

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John W. Tyson
Born(1905-07-26)July 26, 1905
DiedJanuary 15, 1967(1967-01-15) (aged 61)
Occupation(s)Founder and CEO of Tyson Foods
ChildrenDonald J. Tyson
  • Isaac Tyson Jr.
  • Anna Elizabeth Annie Tyson
RelativesJohn H. Tyson

John W. Tyson (July 26, 1905 – January 15, 1967) was an American businessman, the founder of American multinational corporation Tyson Foods and, from 1935 until his death in 1967, its chief executive officer.[1]


Tyson was born in Mound City, Missouri, the son of Isaac F. Tyson and his wife Anna, née Skelly. In 1931, John moved to Springdale, Arkansas, with his wife Helen and infant son Don, hauling hay, fruit, and chickens for local growers.[2] Tyson's career in the poultry market began when he heard that chickens were bringing in higher prices in the northern parts of the United States than in his home of Arkansas.[3] Investing his savings and borrowing more, he began hauling chickens to Kansas City and St. Louis markets. In 1936,[2] Tyson drove 500 chickens from his state to Chicago, Illinois, earning enough profit from the trip to fund another. When that proved successful, he began increasing his independence, raising his own chicks and milling his own chicken feed.[4]

In the 1940s, Tyson purchased a broiler farm in Springdale and began cross-breeding the high-meat yield New Hampshire Red Christy chickens with other birds, a practice that was not then standard in the industry but which proved successful for Tyson.[5] In 1947, he incorporated Tyson Feed and Hatchery, which was active in three phases of chicken farming: supplying chicks to farmers, selling feed to farmers, and transporting chickens to market. By 1952, the year Tyson's son Don Tyson dropped out of college to join the company as general manager,[6] Tyson Feed and Hatchery was well established, but the field was competitive and the market was troubled.[7]

Tyson and his son considered accepting a buy-out offer from Swanson, but decided to persist instead, and by the end of the decade had built the company's first processing plant in Springdale at a cost of $90,000, $15,000 above estimates.[7] Through 1961, Tyson and his son set about increasing revenues, entering the commercial egg business in 1961 and going public, under the new name Tyson's Foods, in 1963.[8]

John and Helen died in a train accident near Springdale in 1967; Don Tyson succeeded his father as CEO of the company.[6][2]


  1. ^ Mooty, Kyle (April 17, 2000). "3rd-Generation of Tysons to Lead Company". Arkansas Business. Retrieved May 25, 2009. John H. Tyson is the grandson of Tyson Foods founder John W. Tyson, who started the company in 1935 and was CEO until his death in 1967.
  2. ^ a b c "About Tyson/History". Archived from the original on March 17, 2006. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  3. ^ "About Tyson". Archived from the original on April 30, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  4. ^ "History, 1930s". Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  5. ^ "History, 1940s". Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Ciuffo, Anthony F. (2004). Family Business Research Journal: Balancing Family and Business. Trafford Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 1-4120-3421-3.
  7. ^ a b "History, 1950s". Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  8. ^ "History, 1960s". Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2009.