Pearse Lyons

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Thomas Pearse Lyons[1] (3 August 1944 – 8 March 2018) was an Irish businessman and the founder and President of Kentucky-based Alltech Inc., an American global animal health and nutrition company that is centred on innovation, research and development.[2] Lyons was considered an "entrepreneur, salesman, marketer and scientist all rolled into one", and was widely regarded in the agribusiness sector as an innovator and industry leader.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Lyons was born and raised in Dundalk, County Louth.[3] He graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) with a first class honours degree in biochemistry.[2] He worked in Harp Lager in Dundalk while at college. Lyons also graduated with a Master of Science in Brewing Science from the British School of Malting and Brewing (now the School of Biochemistry[4]), University of Birmingham in 1968.[5] In 1971 Lyons received a PhD Biochemistry, also from the University of Birmingham.[5] He later started an MBA at UCD, but didn't complete it.[6] He moved to Irish Distillers, which he described as his 'dream job'.[6]

Lyons received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2004.[7]


His work led to him to Kentucky in 1976, and, in 1980, Lyons set up Alltech in his garage.[3] With an initial investment of $10,000 and enough money set aside to pay the mortgage and buy groceries for the family for a year (by this stage he was married with two children), Lyons used his fermentation expertise to continue helping brewers.[3]"We started in October and we were in profit by Christmas," he says. "We had to be in profit by Christmas.[6]" Not only was Lyons in profit by Christmas, but he did a million dollars' worth of business in his first year.[6] Lyons then turned his attention to animal feed in the belief that yeasts, enzymes and certain bacteria could help animals use feed more efficiently – a concept which was not new but lacked scientific data and research.[8] "And that first million became two ... We have never, ever had a month where Alltech has not made a profit, a good profit," he said. "We've been growing at 20 percent for the best part of 30 years.[3] " By 1985, the animal nutrition side of the business had superseded the alcohol side in importance "even though there are similarities between the products on both sides," according to Lyons.[3] Today, the company is a global animal health company, employing more than 3,000 people with a presence in 128 countries and offices in 85 countries, including North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.[9] Lyons has built Alltech into the fastest growing company in the global animal health industry through innovative technology, creative marketing, and strong branding.[10] It is growing rapidly in the Chinese market.[11] Alltech was the title sponsor of the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, Kentucky.[12] It was both the company and the event’s first title sponsorship.The company invested more than $32 million plus event staffing into the 2010 edition of the Games.[13] Alltech also committed to sponsor the next edition in France, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy.[14] 2011 saw Alltech open one of the largest commercial algae production sites in the world. The $200 million Alltech Algae facility is located in Winchester, Ky. and the company is pursuing algae’s applications in animal and human nutrition.[15] In 2012, Alltech was named to a top-10 Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America by the Americans for the Arts. The company received the award for its support of the local arts, its statewide music festival – the Alltech Fortnight Festival – in conjunction with the Games, its annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition and its incorporation of the arts into its Sustainable Haiti Project.[16] Alltech sales will reach $1 billion in 2013 with 30 percent coming from acquisitions.[17] Alltech will achieve annual revenue of $1bn in China by 2015 and make a contribution to the nation's production of pork, according to Lyons.[18]

Pearse Lyons Distillery[edit]

The Pearse Lyons Distillery opened in a converted church on Dublin's Thomas Street in September 2017.[19][20]

Personal life[edit]

Lyons's day started at 3.50am, giving him a five-hour head start on the company’s global headquarters in Kentucky, where he was based. One of the first things he did was put in a call to the company's European headquarters in Dunboyne, County Meath.[6] Lyons ran every morning, regardless of where he was working.[6] Lyons also established Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company, which includes a line of beers – Kentucky Ale, Kentucky Light, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout – and spirits including Town Branch Bourbon, Pearse Lyons Reserve malt whiskey and Bluegrass Sundown, a bourbon-infused coffee drink. In 2012, Alltech partnered with Ireland’s Carlow Brewing Company to begin distilling its first genuine Irish whiskey.[21]

In May 2009, Alltech and the Muhammad Ali Center announced the creation of a joint charitable fund, the Alltech-Muhammad Ali Center Global Education and Charitable Fund.[22] Lyons’ wealth was estimated to be in the region of €1.5bn [23] and according to the Sunday Times Rich List[24] he was the sixth richest Irish person in 2012.

Lyons "authored" more than 20 books and "many" research papers for scientific journals.[25]

Lyons was named Business Person of the Year in 2012 by Business and Finance in Ireland.[26] Also in 2012, Lyons received the Ireland-US Council’s Award for Outstanding Achievement for strengthening economic ties between the United States and Ireland.[27]

He was married to Deirdre and they had two children, Mark and Aoife. Mark is Vice-President Corporate Affairs at Alltech.


  1. ^ Name confirmed 20 May 2014, by Lynne Adderton, Alumni and Business Engagement, University of Birmingham
  2. ^ a b c "Who's Who in Irish Business, 2010". Business and Finance. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Dr. Pearse Lyons; A Reflection in the Mirror". Irish Examiner. 5 March 2010.
  4. ^ School name confirmed 20 May 2014, by Lynne Adderton, Alumni and Business Engagement, University of Birmingham
  5. ^ a b Degree confirmed 20 May 2014, by Lynne Adderton, Alumni and Business Engagement, University of Birmingham
  6. ^ a b c d e f "The Lyons Share Just keeps on growing". The Irish Times. 5 October 2012.
  7. ^ "HW Minutes 2004" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Dundalk Democrat". Dundalk Democrat. 16 March 2012.
  9. ^ Retrieved 24 June 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Retrieved 24 June 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Alltech aims to build Chinese revenue to $1b by '15". Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  12. ^ Contributor, Tops in Lex. "Lexington, KY". Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Pearse Lyons Sees Opportunities Everywhere". Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Alltech opens office in WEG 2014 Normandy HQ -". 9 April 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Tom Eblen: Alltech's symposium offers look at fascinating innovations". Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Alltech aims to build Chinese revenue to $1b by '15 - Companies -". Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  19. ^ "Alltech Announce Pearse Lyons Distillery". 18 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Alltech's Irish distillery goes Gothic with restoration of Anglican church". 3 February 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  21. ^ 8 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Richest 300 Irish now worth €62bn". Irish Independent.
  24. ^ Times, The Sunday (29 April 2012). "The Sunday Times Rich List 2012". Retrieved 9 March 2018 – via
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 July 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Alltech Founder Pearse Lyons Receives Award". Retrieved 9 March 2018.

Further information[edit]