Last Thursday, Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes met with Original Philly leaders and team members at the company’s headquarters in Philadelphia. It was his first official visit since Tyson announced the acquisition back in November of last year.

Tom Hayes joined Tyson on the last day of 2016, and he had an eventful first year at the helm. In addition to the purchase of Original Philly late in 2017, he led Tyson’s $4.2 billion acquisition of convenience and ready-to-eat foods company (and former Original Philly rival) AdvancePierre in April, after announcing efforts to increase its focus on core protein-based businesses.  Throughout the year, the company revealed plans to build and expand multiple processing facilities. He also committed to eliminating antibiotics from Tyson’s flagship poultry products. Nearing the end of his first year on the job, Tom Hayes was recognized as “Food Executive of the Year” by industry publication Food Dive in December.

As expected, Tom’s visit was met with much excitement. During the early part of the day, Original Philly execs and managers enjoyed the opportunity to meet with their new parent company’s chief, discussing Original Philly’s history, the brand, products, sales dynamics, and details about the unique manufacturing process, among other topics.

After that lively conversation, the proceedings left the conference room in favor of a “field trip.” This particular journey required our distinguished guest to suit up in the Original Philly “tour uni”: a hard hat and white coat. The senior team chaperoned Tom on an in-depth VIP tour of the plant and production lines. Tom’s knowledge about the Original Philly story and business was evident, but this was his first chance to get an up-close look at our innovative blast freezers and “Chop Shop” production floor. He finished a full morning with a robust sense of what makes us different.

THE RIGHT STUFF: Tyson CEO Tom Hayes joins members of the Original Philly leadership team on a tour of the company’s production floor—affectionately known as “Nick & George’s Chop Shop—at its HQ in Philadelphia (April 2018)

When it came time to break for lunch, there’s wasn’t much intrigue surrounding what the hosts would be serving. However, Tom was treated to a special visit from Jerry’s Kitchen, one of Philly’s celebrated food trucks, which parked itself outside the offices and cooked up Original Philly’s legendary WOW steaks and cheesesteak appetizers. Everyone, including the special guest, got to experience their ‘steaks to order: “wiz wit,” American or without. Despite the chilly April temps outside, team members loved the lunch surprise and congregated around the truck for a truly authentic Philly cheesesteak experience: tasty bites, spirited dialogue, and good friends old and new.

Once the lunch truck party concluded (with full bellies, one and all), Tom and the senior team made the short drive to the Original Philly Fully Cooked office and production facility. There, the group met to discuss that unique side of the business, which included the second plant tour.

Despite the hearty lunch, the leaders of Original Philly and their important visitor found room for a nice dinner to cap the busy day. The theme of family was prevalent—as that is a vital part of the Original Philly story, and something it shares with the larger Tyson brand and operation.

Original Philly’s leadership in the growing Philly Steak category was a main attraction for Tyson, and a critical piece of the CEO’s vision for Tyson’s dominance of the protein-based food market.

As part of the dynamic Tyson family, Original Philly customers across the country and globe can look forward to increased distribution, new and innovative products, deep and useful resources, and exciting opportunities to grow their Philly cheesesteak offerings.

Tom Hayes and his new pals at Original Philly are going to make sure of it.