Northark honors Tyson executive as Distinguished Alumnus
A teenaged Wes Morris was
bagging groceries at Edwards Grocery in Harrison when his future career
walked in the door wearing snazzy clothes.
The farm boy was
intrigued by a team of sales people that came to the store. The men
drove a nice vehicle, got to travel, wore high-end clothing and appeared
to be making good money. Morris wanted nothing more than to be like
“I lived on a farm, and all of the jobs I had involved
manual labor,” he said. “These guys weren’t sweating much. I didn’t want
to haul hay, but I also didn’t want to sit at a desk. I decided then
that I wanted to be in sales.”
That on-the-spot decision led
Morris to a career that now has him serving as a division president of
Fortune 100 Company Tyson Foods. He is also the recipient of this year’s
North Arkansas College Distinguished Alumnus Award, which recognizes
graduates for their outstanding accomplishments in their respective
Morris’ desire to have a sales career took him to North
Arkansas College in the 1980s and then on to the University of Arkansas
where he received his bachelor’s degree in marketing.
he was the first person in his family to go to college. After his
father lost his job, the family had to use Morris’ college fund to pay
bills. It was up to him to figure out how to pay for college. Realizing
he did not have the funds or the maturity to go to a four-year college,
Morris turned to Northark.
“I didn’t do that well in high
school,” he said. “I had to do remediation when I started at Northark. I
didn’t even have 101 classes; I had to have two 91 level classes. If it
had not been for Northark, and specifically (instructor) Cathy Brandt,
who took me under her wing, I don’t know where I would be right now.”
said after graduating from the University of Arkansas, he was offered a
job at Tyson Foods, but he wanted to get out of Arkansas. He didn’t get
far. Morris took a job in Springfield, Mo., as a sales leader for The
Dial Corp. selling soap. He later moved to Des Moines, Iowa and took a
position as an account executive.
In 1994, Morris moved to Kansas
City to become a retail sales manager, and two years later became a
senior business manager at Acosta, a food brokerage company in St.
Morris is now the President of Prepared Foods for
Tyson Foods. Morris, who has been with Tyson since 1999, has served in
multiple positions within the company including senior vice president of
retail sales and operations, senior vice president of the wholesale
club division and vice president of club store sales.
The Harrison native said attitude has played a huge role in his rise through the ranks at various companies.
need to have a can-do attitude and put in hard work,” he said. “Even
when I was at Edwards, I had a can-do attitude. I may not have been able
to do something, but I acted like I could. I always said I could do
“You have to be passionate about what you do,” he
continued. “I’m passionate about Harrison. I’m passionate about
Northark. I’m passionate about Tyson. And I’m passionate about feeding
Morris said he advises high school and college students to take every opportunity to learn something new.
“When it scares the bejesus out of you, keep going,” he said with a laugh. “Just keep going.”
was presented the North Arkansas College Distinguished Alumnus
Award at the 2014 Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges (AATYC)
Conference Oct. 14 in Hot Springs.
North Arkansas College plans the launch of an Alumni Association. Anyone who
has taken a class at the college is eligible to be a member. If you are a former student and
would like to be on the mailing list for this new endeavor, send an e-mail with your contact
information to Jacquie Markle (firstname.lastname@example.org
) or call