Wilson & Co. evolved over the years to adapt to a changing market and changing leadership. The business began in 1916 when founder Thomas Edward Wilson took control of the Chicago meat packinghouse, Sulzberger & Sons Co., and rebranded it as Wilson & Co. By 1917, the company ranked as one of the 50 largest industrial corporations in the United States, and continued to employ thousands of workers at its plant in Chicago until the 1950s.
Wilson & Co. held several subsidiaries that utilized animal by-products for the manufacture of sporting goods, pharmaceuticals, and industry chemicals. Ashland Manufacturing - a subsidiary of Sulzberger & Sons Co. established in 1913 - manufactured athletic gear under the Thomas E. Wilson brand and became Wilson Sporting Goods in 1931.
Thomas E. Wilson Family Collection, Box 34, Folder 3, Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Timeline of Wilson & Co. History
March 22, 1916
Thomas Edward Wilson is named President of the Chicago meat packing firm Sulzberger & Sons Co. after banks force a change of management. Sulzberger & Sons had been accused of German sympathies when a shipment of meat was intercepted by a British blockade.
July 21, 1916
Sulzberger & Sons Co. is renamed Wilson & Co.
Ashland Manufacturing – a subsidiary manufacturing athletic gear – is renamed Thomas E. Wilson & Co.
Wilson & Co. ranked as one of the 50 largest industrial corporations in the United States.
Thomas E. Wilson’s son, Edward Foss Wilson, enters the family business, starting in the stock yards.
Edward Foss Wilson named Vice President of Wilson & Co.
Subsidiary Thomas E. Wilson & Co. is renamed Wilson Sporting Goods.
February 27, 1934
Edward Foss Wilson is named President of Wilson & Co., and Thomas E. Wilson becomes Chairman of the Board.
Edward Foss Wilson becomes Chairman of the Board of Wilson & Co.
January 5, 1967
Wilson & Co. is acquired by Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc., and its headquarters are transferred from Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, Texas.
Ling-Temco-Vought reorganizes the company into three publicly-traded divisions: Wilson & Co. Inc. (meat), Wilson Sporting Goods Co., and Wilson Pharmaceutical & Chemical Corp.
Wilson Pharmaceutical & Chemical sold to American Can.
Wilson Sporting Goods is acquired by PepsiCo.
Ling-Temco-Vought further subdivides Wilson & Co. Inc. into Wilson Certified Foods, Wilson Beef & Lamb, Wilson Laurel Farms, Wilson-Sinclair, and Wilson Agri-Business Enterprises.
Wilson & Co. is renamed Wilson Foods Corporation.
LTV Corporation (Ling-Temco-Vought) divests itself of Wilson Foods.
Wilson Foods is acquired by Doskocil Companies, Inc.
Amer Group of Finland (later Amer Sports Oyi) acquires Wilson Sporting Goods.
Doskocil files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sells off Wilson Brands division.
Doskocil changes its name to Foodbrands America, Inc.
IBP, Inc. acquires Foodbrands America, Inc. (including Wilson Foods).
Tyson Foods acquires IBP, Inc. (along with remaining Wilson meat brands).
A Chinese investor group led by Anta Sports Products acquires a majority stake in Amer Sports Oyj.
The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center