KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Overseeing operations at one of the largest beef-processing plants in the US as well as being responsible for operations at two other plants in two other states, Chris Rupp, vice president, Fresh Meats Beef Operations, Tyson Foods Inc., is the recipient of MEAT+POULTRY’s 2018 Operations Executive of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes industry leaders whose reputations for leading teams and maintaining operational excellence in meat or poultry processing facilities serve as an inspiration to their team members and among their counterparts in the industry. Rupp is the seventh recipient of MEAT+POULTRY’s annual award.

Born and raised in Western Kansas, Chris Rupp considered Garden City home for many years. A sense of home was important in Rupp’s upbringing and continues to be a priority today. After growing up there, Rupp started his career in the meat industry at the Finney County beef processing plant, then owned by IBP Inc., at the age of 23. Rupp spent half of his 34-year career at that facility before moving to assume a leadership role at the massive, Tyson Fresh Meats Plant in Dakota City, Nebraska, where he is vice president of fresh meats operations. Rupp has led several large expansion projects and is always quick to give credit for his success to the team members that get the work done each day. Seventeen years later, he considers Dakota City home, and the people he works with play a big role in that.

“This is my family, this is where I’ve been,” he says. “I know most of these people almost as well as I know my own family.”

One of seven kids growing up working on a farm along with his siblings and led by his father, Rupp learned plenty about the value of a good work ethic and the importance of commitment and relationships along the way. The opportunity to join a big company where structure, stability, a clearer career path and the prospect of a happy retirement lured Rupp away from the farming life that he loved.

He moved from Kansas to Nebraska in 2001. Now, he says, this is home. In fact, he’s building a home on the Missouri River not far from the plant.

Having read through the list of previous recipients of the Operations Executive of the Year award, Chris Rupp says he was humbled. “I don’t know that I’m worthy,” he said. “These guys have been in the business longer and maybe it’s because they’ve been with so many companies,” he said. “I’ve just got this one little history and it just happens to be with the same group of people.”

MEAT+POULTRY will feature Chris Rupp, the recipient of the 2018 Operations Executive of the Year award, in the August issue.