Tyson names new CEO

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tyson Foods will soon be operating under a new chief executive officer.

The Springdale-based company, which is the largest employer in Carroll County, announced in a news release Monday that CEO Tom Hayes is “stepping down for personal reasons,” and will be succeeded as the company’s chief executive by Noel White, effective Sept. 30.

White is the former group president of Beef, Pork and International for Tyson and a member of the company’s enterprise leadership team.

“Noel is a proven leader who has played an integral role in our enterprise leadership team for many years,” Tyson board chairman John Tyson said in the news release. “He has run our beef, pork, and poultry businesses and is now helping Tyson Foods capitalize on international opportunities. His deep institutional knowledge and a stellar track record over his more than 30-year career at Tyson Foods and a predecessor company give the board the utmost confidence in his ability to drive the business forward, accelerate global growth and create long-term value for shareholders.”

“I am honored to serve as Tyson Foods’ next CEO, and I am excited by the many opportunities that lie ahead,” White said. “It has been a privilege to contribute to this company’s evolution over the course of many years and to be a part of its becoming one of the world’s largest food companies. I look forward to accelerating the current trajectory of growth as a global modern food company through our operational excellence, innovative thinking and focus to sustainably feed the world. With the company’s strong portfolio of fast-growing brands, diverse capabilities, exceptional enterprise leadership team and dedicated team members, we are well-positioned for continued success.”

The news release did not elaborate on the reasons for Hayes’ departure.

“Tom has accelerated the strategic transformation of Tyson Foods’ product portfolio and played an important role in the company’s continuing development. The board and I thank him for his many contributions to the success of Tyson Foods and wish him well.”

“It is a very difficult decision to leave Tyson Foods, but after careful consideration and discussions with my family and the board, I know it is the right thing to do,” Hayes said in the news release. “I am appreciative of support from my family and the board for my decision and am confident that Tyson Foods has a bright future with Noel White, along with our enterprise leadership team, as its leader.”

White has more than 30 years of experience in the food industry and worked at IBP for nearly two decades before its 2001 acquisition by Tyson Foods. He has served in various leadership roles throughout his career with Tyson Foods, including as chief operations officer. As group president of Beef, Pork and International, he was responsible for delivering top and bottom line growth for the company’s beef and pork segments as well as the international business. Previously, he was president of Poultry from 2013 to 2017 and has also served in numerous sales, management and company officer positions. White is a graduate of Bemidji State University in Minnesota and earned a master of business administration degree with an emphasis in economics from Oklahoma City University.

Tyson directly employs more than 2,600 people in Carroll County — not counting the local farmers who contract with the company. Tyson operates plants in Berryville and Green Forest — including a new Green Forest plant that began operating in 2017 after a $136 million construction effort. Tyson has an annual payroll of $138 million in Carroll County and pays $18.4 million in taxes and utilities in the county.

Tyson’s stock price has fallen significantly in 2018, from $80.62 per share on Jan. 2 to $63.06 at the close of trading Monday — a drop of 21.8 percent. Monday’s price per share was only down slightly from a year before, however, as Tyson stock closed at 67.41 on Sept. 18, 2017. The price reached $83.62 per share on Dec. 8, 2017.

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