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Thomas Pearse Lyons (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. 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.
Early life and education
Lyons was born and raised in Dundalk, County Louth. He graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) with a first class honours degree in biochemistry. 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), University of Birmingham in 1968. In 1971 Lyons received a PhD Biochemistry, also from the University of Birmingham. He later started an MBA at UCD, but didn't complete it. He moved to Irish Distillers, which he described as his 'dream job'.
His work led to him to Kentucky in 1976, and, in 1980, Lyons set up Alltech in his garage. 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."We started in October and we were in profit by Christmas," he says. "We had to be in profit by Christmas." Not only was Lyons in profit by Christmas, but he did a million dollars' worth of business in his first year. 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. "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. " By 1985, the animal nutrition side of the business had superseded the alcohol side in importance "even though there are similarities between the products on both sides," according to Lyons. 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. Lyons has built Alltech into the fastest growing company in the global animal health industry through innovative technology, creative marketing, and strong branding. It is growing rapidly in the Chinese market. Alltech was the title sponsor of the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, Kentucky. 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. Alltech also committed to sponsor the next edition in France, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy. 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. 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. Alltech sales will reach $1 billion in 2013 with 30 percent coming from acquisitions. 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.
Pearse Lyons Distillery
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. Lyons ran every morning, regardless of where he was working. 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.
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. Lyons’ wealth was estimated to be in the region of €1.5bn  and according to the Sunday Times Rich List he was the sixth richest Irish person in 2012.
Lyons "authored" more than 20 books and "many" research papers for scientific journals.
Lyons was named Business Person of the Year in 2012 by Business and Finance in Ireland. Also in 2012, Lyons received the Ireland-US Council’s Award for Outstanding Achievement for strengthening economic ties between the United States and Ireland.
He was married to Deirdre and they had two children, Mark and Aoife. Mark is Vice-President Corporate Affairs at Alltech.
- Name confirmed 20 May 2014, by Lynne Adderton, Alumni and Business Engagement, University of Birmingham
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