Staley is a member of so many civic boards, “I end up working Saturdays and Sundays sometimes because I have to put Cargill first,” he said in a recent interview, when the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal
named him executive of the year.
Like ADM, Cargill is something of a supermarket to the world, a supplier of agricultural commodity ingredients more than branded products. Unlike ADM, Cargill is not public, but it publicizes at least its top-line figures. In its fiscal 2004 (ending May 31, 2004) the company had sales of $62.9 billion with net earnings of $1.3 billion.
The private nature of the company has not held back Cargill. “There may be more people in countries and governments outside the U.S. familiar with Cargill than there are people in the U.S.,” says Staley. “I don’t think the rest of the world expects large companies to be publicly held. In many ways, we were a multinational before the term was invented.”
Cargill started business in Argentina right after World War II. In the early 1950s, it established a European headquarters in Antwerp, later moved to Geneva. The company’s been active in Brazil for 40 years. “We went to China weeks after Nixon was there in 1972,” Staley recalls. “We were talking to Vietnam as soon as the U.S. government said it was OK to do so. We’ve been in Russia since 1990 and Ukraine since ’92.”
Staley says Cargill often starts as a trading partner, “moving grain and other agricultural commodities from where there’s a surplus to where there’s a deficit.” When it’s time to add value to those commodities through processing, Cargill is there to transfer the technology and often to make a capital investment. Cargill also uses its worldwide transportation network, of ships, barges, railcars and trucks as well as local distributors to move products across the globe.
“Many of our customers are global, and we need to be wherever they are,” he says. “Sometimes we’re there even before they are and can help them get established.”
The Yuschenko story is symptomatic of a company with this much reach and this much history in parts of the world. When Staley first started dealing with Ukraine – in addition to commodity trading, Cargill set up a sunflower oil processing plant there -- he often was directed to the head of the central bank. That banker is now the president.
“When the new premier of China, Wen Jiabao, visited the U.S. in December 2003, we got invited to the New York luncheon. Afterward, I had a little private audience, and he invited me to China to give him our views on agriculture and for me to better understand the challenges of agriculture in China.”-Dave Fusaro, Editor in chief
Core values define a company
“Corporate reputation is the product of alchemy — a mixture of everything from the way a company nurtures homegrown talent to how it manages its balance sheet,” Fortune
writes in naming Tyson Foods America’s Most Admired Company in Food Production. “Throw in one part customer satisfaction, another part shareholder return, add a splash of community citizenship — and voila! -- you have a measure of that company’s station in the hierarchy of American business.”
|John Tyson, Chairman/CEO,|
Tyson Foods Inc.
ranked Tyson Foods Inc., Springdale, Ark., America’s most admired food company for the second time in three years -- no easy achievement, since the winning company is chosen by its peers. Since 1998, Chairman/CEO John Tyson has headed the No. 2 company on the Food Processing
Top 100 list (and probably No. 1 when this year’s list comes out in August).
John Tyson led the company through a complicated merger with South Dakota-based IBP Inc., transforming the company from the nation’s biggest poultry company into the biggest producer of beef, pork and chicken. All the while Tyson achieved notable brand equity, with consumer awareness comparable to the most visible brands in the world, and encouraged the development of innovative, convenient and healthy protein-based food products.
Founded in 1935, when his grandfather John Tyson drove a truckload of Arkansas chickens to Chicago for a $235 profit, the company is the recognized market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves, providing products and services throughout the U.S. and more than 80 countries, and has approximately 114,000 team members.
“We’ve developed a strong set of ‘core values,’ defining who we are as a company, what we do and how we do it,” says Tyson, who is a stickler on keeping standards high. “According to our core values statement, ‘We are a company of people engaged in the production of food, seeking to pursue truth and integrity, and committed to creating value for our shareholders, our customers, and our people in the process.’ As part of ongoing efforts to support our people, we recently introduced a ‘Team Member Bill of Rights’ to make sure our workers understand their rights in the workplace.” Tyson implemented management-training programs focused on dignity and respect, problem-solving and team building, as well as ethics and is preparing the next generation of leaders at Tyson with an emerging leaders development and mentoring program.
“We’re in a global business and need greater access to opportunities in the international marketplace to continue to compete effectively,” Tyson says about the company’s upcoming challenges. “This means finding ways to open – and in some cases reopen and rebuild – key export markets. Developing high-quality food solutions for our customers and the consumer will continue to remain important to us. One of our goals is to increase our percentage of value-added product sales to 50 percent over the next five years. We finished fiscal 2004 at 38 percent value-added and our goal for 2005 is 40 percent,” he adds.