Tyson Foods Inc.
employees from two of its largest business units plan to leave the company as it consolidates its corporate offices to northwest Arkansas next year, according to people familiar with the matter.
The largest U.S. meat supplier by sales said in October that it planned to close its offices in Chicago, Downers Grove, Ill., and Dakota Dunes, S.D., which currently house many of
‘s corporate employees in its prepared foods, beef and pork divisions. About 1,000 employees total work in those locations, the company has said.
Tyson gave workers until Nov. 14 to decide if they would relocate to the company’s Springdale, Ark., headquarters in early 2023. The company has said the planned office closures are part of an effort to consolidate its corporate employees in one place, to improve collaboration and speed up decision making.
Roughly three-quarters of the 500 employees in Tyson’s South Dakota office told the company they wouldn’t make the move to Arkansas and planned to depart by about the time the office closes in mid-2023, according to people familiar with the matter. More than 90% of the employees in Tyson’s Chicago office have declined to relocate, the people said.
“I’m confident the plan we have in place ensures business continuity and positions us for long-term success,” said Tyson Chief Executive
in a statement. “We knew there would be a variety of responses when we announced the consolidation of our corporate locations.”
Some of the planned departures include key managers. On Tuesday, Tyson said the leader of its beef and pork unit, Shane Miller, is being replaced at the start of 2023 by Brady Stewart, who previously served as chief operating officer of pork giant
Mr. Miller had told people that he was considering leaving the company, rather than relocate because of family reasons, according to people familiar with the matter. Tyson said Tuesday that Mr. Stewart will work with Mr. Miller to ensure a smooth transition.
The senior vice president of Tyson’s pork business, Leah Andersen, is also expected to leave the company rather than relocate, the people said. Ms. Andersen didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“We’ve proven we can recruit world class talent to northwest Arkansas with the recent additions of Melanie Boulden as chief growth officer and Brady Stewart as our new group president of fresh meats,” said Mr. King. Ms. Boulden’s hire was announced by Tyson earlier this month. She had previously served as the chief marketing officer of
’s North America division.
Tyson’s beef and pork division made up nearly half of the company’s $53 billion in revenue in its 2022 fiscal year. Many employees in the South Dakota office have been there since Tyson acquired meatpacker IBP Inc. for more than $3 billion in 2001, and have decades worth of experience and contacts in the industry.
Tyson’s prepared foods division has been primarily run out of Chicago since the company’s 2014 deal to acquire Hillshire Brands, maker of Jimmy Dean sausage and Ball Park hot dogs.
The anticipated employee departures at the meat giant comes amid a recent reshuffling of some of its top leadership positions, including the heads of its prepared foods and international division.
It would also come at a time when beef profits are under pressure. Consumer demand has softened for premium cuts of beef, while shrinking U.S. cattle herds have raised the prices meatpackers pay to ranchers for livestock. Tyson’s beef business had reported soaring profit margins over the past two years, as short-staffed plants constrained production while strong consumer demand helped push meat prices higher.
On a call with reporters in November following the company’s quarterly earnings, Mr. King said the company hoped to get all the employees in the offices slated for closure to move to northwest Arkansas. Mr. King said on the call that executives were actively recruiting employees to relocate and that those who didn’t would be asked to stay in place until the company can hire and train new individuals in northwest Arkansas.
The company is offering retention bonuses to certain employees to move or keep them employed long enough to train the newly-hired Arkansas-based workers, people familiar with the matter said. The final number of South Dakota and Illinois employees who ultimately decide to move to Arkansas by 2023 could change as a result.
On Tyson’s website, some newly listed positions at the company, including a food safety manager, say that significant travel to South Dakota will be required to learn the role.
Last week, Tyson paid about $20 million for a building in Springdale, Ark. that previously served as a
call center, to make room for employees moving to the region. Tyson said the building will have capacity for about 1,000 employees, giving it more space along with a planned expansion to the company’s headquarters complex in Springdale.
Write to Patrick Thomas at email@example.com
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