story by Kim Souza
In typical, non-ceremonial fashion Tyson Foods shareholders held their 51st annual meeting in Springdale on Friday morning (Jan.31). The investors had plenty to celebrate with a new record stock price, rallying more than 9.4% to $37.74 and twice the normal shares traded in the morning session.
That said, the entire event lasted just under 23 minutes, and it included the executives taking time to bid farewell to two of its senior leaders.
Chief Operating Officer Jim Lochner is relocating back to South Dakota prior to his retirement in September, and Buddy Wray, a former CEO and special assistant, is retiring a second time in February after coming back into the business in 2008. The retirements were announced in November, but this is the last shareholder meeting they plan to attend as company execs.
Tyson Chairman John Tyson thanked Lochner for his leadership and service throughout the years crediting him as one of the “best” in the industry who learned through experience. He referred to Lochner as a “master professor” saying that he it doesn’t matter what you know if you can’t teach it to others. CEO Donnie Smith also thanked Lochner for the way he has prepared the company’s future leadership and credited him with much of the financial success the company has seen in recent years.
Lochner will continue serve the company in a consultant role through 2017. John Tyson noted this will allow more time for Lochner’s big game hunting out West.
Tyson said Buddy Wray helped raise him, and his expertise has proved invaluable for 50 years, including designing the company’s iconic logo. Wray retired from as president in 2000, but was called back into business by his long-time friend and company pioneer Don Tyson in 2008.
“He has been a trusted advisor to me during a phenomenal period in our company's history," Smith said. "His wisdom and guidance helped us deliver outstanding results and his nearly six decades of experience have been a wonderful gift."
Smith told shareholders that 2014 is off to a great start as the stock set another record high in active trading on the heels of a stellar first quarter performance.
“If you’ve checked your phone in the past few minutes like I have, you can see the share price continues to rally,” he said.
Smith assured shareholders the game always has its challenges, but he’s confident that he has the right people on his team, making the right plays to ensure Tyson Foods wins.
Tyson shareholders (95.23%) approved the following directors for a one-year term:
• John Tyson, 60, chairman of the board
• Kathleen M. Bader, 63 president and CEO of NatureWorks LLC
• Gaurdie E. Banister Jr., 56, CEO of Aera Energy
• Jim Kever, 61, founding partner of Voyent Partners
• Kevin M. McNamara, 57, founding principal of McNamara Family Ventures
• Brad T. Sauer, 54, EVP at 3M Industrial Business Group
• Robert Thurber, 66, retired exec from Sysco
• Barbara A. Tyson, 64, former company consultant and VP
• Albert C. Zapanta, 72, CEO of the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce
Tyson shareholders (99.74%) approved the ratification of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to serve as the company's independent registered public accounting firm for the fiscal year ending Sept. 27.