Meat+Poultry - August 2018 - 17

Tyson's Chris Rupp has a 34-year track record of hard
work and passion for improving the meat industry
BY J O E L C R E WS | j c r e w s @ s o s l a n d.c o m

Photos: Photography by KJ

H

aving never learned to swim, Chris
Rupp might be the most unlikely
candidate to own a pontoon boat, two
Jet Skis and a house overlooking the Missouri
River on the Nebraska-South Dakota border. In
many ways, Rupp, vice president fresh meats
beef operations at Tyson Foods Inc., is the
product of thriving in challenging situations.
Thirty-four years ago, Rupp never imagined
himself going from a hard-working farm hand
in western Kansas to eventually overseeing
some of the biggest beef processing operations
in the US for one of the largest meat companies
in the world. But none of his success is
unlikely to those who have had the opportunity
to work alongside Rupp as he's spent his
career ascending the industry ranks - learning,
teaching and adapting to changes at every turn.
When he started at IBP Inc. in 1984, Rupp
was a bit reluctant to go to work for a big
company after spending his life living on a farm
near Garden City, Kansas, his family didn't
own, but where his father and his six siblings
worked until a few years after he got out of high
school. His first taste of change would come
after he applied for a job at a big beef packing
plant outside of town. Embarking on a new,
non-farming career path was a leap of faith for
Rupp, who was then a green 23-year-old.
"I loved farming; absolutely loved it," he
says. What he didn't love was seeing his father
work tirelessly most of his life for a farmer
only to retire with almost nothing to show for
it. Rupp was one of seven kids where hard
work was a part of life, but a big salary wasn't.
"Growing up without was part of what we did.
But we didn't really know we were without.
"I could see myself going on that same
path and I had to make a decision," he says,
recalling his exposure to the beef industry was
limited to a couple of years he spent working
at a neighboring farm where about 3,000 head
of cattle were in production at any given time.
"That got me into the cattle business," which
required round-the-clock attention to the herd.
"Working 12- and 14-hour days is what I grew
up on," and he figured working in a beef plant

couldn't be that much of a stretch.
In his early 20s and starting a family, Rupp
was enticed by the prospect of applying his
farming know-how and cattle production
knowledge doing a job that offered more than
working on a ranch without benefits like health
insurance, retirement plans and the potential
to move up the ranks.

LEAP OF FAITH
"I watched my dad retire with nothing and I
knew that wasn't for me," Rupp says, so he
applied for a maintenance position at what
was then IBP Inc. in Finney County, Kansas.
After finding out there was a six-month waiting
period for most maintenance jobs at that time
in the industry, Rupp heard there were more
immediate openings working on the fabrication
line at the giant plant. "I told them I wouldn't
have a clue about how to cut meat," but he was
assured that he could easily be trained.
He took the job working as a meat
cutter and was pleasantly surprised by the
predictable regimen of his new role compared
to his previous on-farm employment. It was
almost shocking, he says.
"They paid me for every hour I worked; if I
worked overtime they paid me time-and-a-half;
I knew what my schedule was going to be every
day," which were all things he wasn't at all
used to, but he quickly learned to appreciate,
all while learning the craft of cutting meat. He
went on to learn about 20 other jobs on the
processing floor and supervisors soon saw
Rupp as a prime candidate to move up in the
company to supervisory roles. However, these
were opportunities he routinely declined. "I
don't really see myself making a career out of
this," he would say when approached about
potential promotions. He had a different career
path in mind. "I didn't know for sure what, but
I knew it wasn't going to be working in the
packing house," he says.
While working at IBP, Rupp didn't use many
of the skills he learned on the farm as a kid.
Discovering how things work and building
things came easy to Rupp. "Still today, I love

"All through
my career the
only thing
I've looked for
is the little
wins."
- CHRIS RUPP

www.meatpoultry.com | 08.18 | MEAT+ POULTRY

17


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - August 2018

http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2019_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2019_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2019_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2019_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2019_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_11_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2018_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2018_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2018_01_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_09_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_08_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_07_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_06_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_05_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_04_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2017_01_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_09_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_08_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_07_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_06_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_05_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_04_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2016_01_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_09_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_08_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_07_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_06_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_05_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_04_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2015_01_01_mp
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_09_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_08_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_07_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_06_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_05_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_04_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2014_01_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_09_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_08_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_07_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_06_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_05_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_04_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2013_01_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_09_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_08_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_07_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_06_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_05_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_04_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2012_01_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_09_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_08_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_07_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_06_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_05_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_04_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_03_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_02_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2011_01_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2010_12_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2010_11_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2010_10_01
http://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/mp/2010_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2010_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_11_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2009_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_11_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2008_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_11_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2007_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_11_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2006_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_11_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2005_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_11_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_09_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_08_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_07_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_06_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_05_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_04_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_03_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_02_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2004_01_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2003_12_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2003_10_01
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