Donald John Tyson, the man who took family-controlled Tyson Foods from a small chicken company to a food processing enterprise, passed away on 6 January at the age of 80.
Known to his close associates as "Don", Tyson became the second-generation chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods in 1967 after the death of his father, founder John W Tyson. He remained chairman until 1995 when he retired, but continued to serve as a consultant for the company.
Best known for supplying chicken for the famous McDonalds' McNuggets, Don Tyson was often known for his iconic phrase: "I don't have time to have a bad time." Tyson was also known for his philanthropic efforts creating the Tyson Family Foundation, which provides college scholarships for students.
In the late 1990s Don's son, John Tyson became chairman and in 2001 Tyson Foods became not just the world's largest poultry producer, but also the largest beef processor. Tyson, which had revenues of $86 million in 2008, had a difficult year in the downturn announcing a net loss of $551 million for year ending 3 October 2009. But it bounced back with net profit of $765 million for year ended 2 October 2010.
In a statement announcing his father's death, John Tyson said: "Our company just had a very successful year, and with the outstanding board of directors and very strong leadership team we now have in place, we expect the future to be bright for all our team members, shareholders and other stakeholders. That is what my father worked for his whole life and it's what those of us still involved with the company intend to deliver."
The controlling body of Tyson Foods is the Tyson Limited Partnership, with Don Tyson holding a majority stake. The statement revealed that the partnership, consisting of Tyson family members and former executives, would continue to retain control of the company.
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