Tyson-Printing For Chickens
Nobody knows which came first, the chicken or Don Tyson's idea for complete vertical integration. But Russell Gayer, manager of printing services for Tyson Foods, knows that his in-plant didn't always print such a tremendous volume of work.
"It started out in 1975 as just a little room in the corporate office with a couple of duplicators," explains Gayer, "But over the years it's snowballed into what we have here today."
And what the company has is a 62-employee in-plant that prints over 62 million labels a month. That's a lot of snowballing.
Tyson's executives charted a course for growth through the acquisition of other companies. As the company grew, executives needed to find a way to control the production, marketing and sales of their product to ensure the highest quality. Thus was born the idea of complete vertical integration.
"In other words, they want to control everything from the genetic end with the egg through processing and sales," explains Gayer. "And I think they looked at the providing of labels as helping control the process on the sales and marketing end."
In 1986, Tyson's 48 production plants were still contracting with outside printers to print their labels. Since most of the production plants' contracted printers weren't using the same specifications to manufacture Tyson's labels and boxes, Tyson began to encounter problems with inconsistency in their branding.
At that point Tyson decided to insist that their production plants order all boxes and labels through Tyson's in-plant. To help meet that goal, Tyson formed a Label Task Force Committee to oversee packaging issues within the company.
"That's when they started to beef up the print shop and started putting some money in here," notes Gayer. "They would go to the plants and say, 'Hey, your labels need to come through the print shop, and if they don't you need to tell me why.' "