It wasn’t solely the luck of the Irish that brought businessman Dr. Pearse Lyons, the founder and president of the Nicholasville-based Alltech, Ireland’s “Business Person of the Year” award from Business and Finance.
The ambitious entrepreneur who built a top-10 global animal health company was celebrated for his contributions to Ireland during the Business and Finance awards ceremony held Dec. 18 at the Convention Centre in Dublin, Ireland. A panel of Irish business leaders selected this year’s winner. Past recipients include J.P. McManus, an Irish businessman and racehorse owner; Tony Ryan, founder of Guinness Peat Aviation and other business enterprises; Peter Sutherland, a businessman and former attorney general of Ireland; and T.K. Whitaker, an Irish public servant and economist.
“All of my pursuits as a businessman — from developing natural nutritional solutions for animals to making genuine Irish whiskey — have been fuelled by the fiery passion I inherited from the Irish,” Lyons said. “The first order of business in entrepreneurship is don’t get it right, get it going. Pursue your goals with ferocity, but be agile and in control. Let your passion drive you toward your goals.”
A native of Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland, Lyons has revolutionized the animal feed industry with Alltech’s natural solutions, which are safe and beneficial for the animal, consumer and environment. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University College Dublin, Ireland, and a master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Birmingham, England. He worked as a biochemist at Irish distilleries before establishing Alltech in 1980. In the past 32 years, Alltech has grown to employ 2,800 people and conduct business in 128 countries, with annual sales of approximately $750 million.
In 1981, Alltech responded to a demand for products in the European agricultural market with the opening of its first international office in Dunboyne, County Meath, Ireland. Alltech Ireland is the location of the company’s second international Bioscience Centre, a 120-acre facility that serves as the focal point of Alltech operations in Europe. Alltech Ireland continues to expand, with a multi-million Euro construction project currently taking place, which will triple the size of the facility. This will enlarge the research department and will provide the resources for the European Bioscience Centre to serve as headquarters for operations leading up to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, France.
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 launched Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale in Ireland and partnered with Ireland’s Carlow Brewing Company to begin distilling its first genuine Irish whiskey.