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Sticking to It

By focusing on short-run label manufacturing and working cooperatively, Tyson Printing Services is playing an integral role in the success of Tyson Foods, Inc.

January 2013 By Dawn Greenlaw-Scully
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At Tyson Foods, Inc., all management personnel, including CEO Donnie Smith, are birds of a uniform feather.

"We all wear khaki to show that we are working managers and not afraid to get our hands dirty," reports Russell Gayer, manager of Tyson Printing Services (TPS).

Tyson prides itself, not only on the work ethic of its employees, but also their ability to work cooperatively, both internally and with supplier partners and customers. Cooperation, communication and care help Tyson maintain its competitive edge as one of the world's largest processors of chicken, beef and pork.

The company counts on TPS as an integral part of the Tyson team. Operating out of a 45,000-square-foot shop right down the street from Tyson's corporate headquarters in Springdale, Ark., the in-plant consists of 54 employees led by Gayer.

TPS specializes in the production of pressure-sensitive labels, and prints approximately 35 percent of Tyson's labels. The rest are outsourced to suppliers (including Multi-Color and Omni Systems).

"From a risk management standpoint, we don't want all of our eggs in one basket," Gayer notes. Tyson outsources all other packaging.

Gayer categorizes the relationship between TPS and Tyson's other label providers as complementary rather than adversarial.

"Our niche is short-run, quick turnaround and they are better suited for longer runs, which would bottleneck our operation," he explains.

Well-appreciated In-plant

Gayer is confident that the in-plant is positioned properly and securely. "Our ability to manufacture labels at significantly less than market price due to low overhead—and drive those savings to the bottom line—has led to a greater appreciation of the in-plant by executive management and a willingness to invest in the business," says Gayer. "And, being in the label industry ourselves gives Tyson an advantage when negotiating with suppliers."

The in-plant's percentage still translates into a lot of labels. "We manufactured 782 million labels in a 12-month period throughout 2011," Gayer reports; he estimates average run lengths of about 48,000.

Gayer prioritizes the shop's constant need for speed, efficiency and productivity.

"The food business is very competitive, and time to market is critical, so we do everything we can to give the company an edge," he stresses. "Nobody remembers who came out with the second chicken nugget."

Tyson Printing Services

Springdale, Ark.

  • Employees: 54
  • Facility: 45,000 square feet• Annual Operating Budget: $10 million

Key Equipment:

  • Screen USA PlateRite FX870 CTP system
  • Glunz & Jensen FLH 85P plate processor
  • Epson Stylus Pro 7900 with X-Rite SpectroProofer
  • Ryobi 3200 MCD press
  • ABDick XC 9910 press
  • ABDick 8820 press
  • Four-unit Didde MLC press
  • Eight-unit Mark Andy P5 flexo press
  • Three six-unit Webtron 1000 flexo presses
  • Four-unit Comco Cadet flexo press
  • Interlake S3A 78˝ stitcher
  • Challenge MS-5 drill
  • Seal-a-Tron L-Bar sealer
  • Kluge letterpress
  • Challenge 30.5˝ paper cutter
  • Polar 45˝ paper cutter
  • Four Arpeco Tracker rewind/slitters
  • Ameripak 140 wrapper with batch counter


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