Farm Ireland

Monday 21 January 2019

Alltech founder and president Pearse Lyons passes away

Pearse Lyons
Pearse Lyons
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Alltech has announced the passing of its founder and president, Dr. Pearse Lyons.

Lyons died on Thursday, March 8, due to an acute lung condition that developed during his recovery from heart surgery. He was 73.

“The thoughts of our entire Alltech family around the world are with Dr. Lyons’ family, specifically his wife Deirdre, daughter Aoife, son Mark and Mark’s wife Holly,” said Alric Blake, CEO and treasurer of Alltech.

“Dr. Lyons was a visionary entrepreneur who transformed the agriculture industry beginning with his innovative application of yeast technology in animal nutrition. From farm to field, from market to family dinner table, our world is immeasurably better because he was a man who never saw problems, only a challenge that had not yet been solved.

“He inspired everyone he met with his energy, enthusiasm and passionate belief in possibilities. He instilled that positivity in his people, more than 5,000 Alltech team members around the world. I am confident I speak on behalf of all of them when I say that we are deeply honored to have known and worked for such a great man. We will resolve to honor his legacy by deepening our commitment to his customers and all the innovative ideas he believed in so strongly,” he said.

Lyons was recently named amongst the wealthiest people in the country with a €3.5bn fortune, up €200m on 2017.

The brewing and biochemistry graduate started his career at Harp Lager in Dundalk, before using his scientific background to produce superior animal feeds.

In something of a journey 'back to the future' of where his working life began, he and his wife Deirdre - Alltech's head of corporate image and design - restored a 19th-century church on Dublin's James's Street to house the Pearse Lyons Distillery. The firm also brews a number of craft beers at its headquarters in Kentucky in the US.

Lyons started Alltech 37 years ago with just $10,000 in seed capital. The shares are held by the family, which includes son Mark, who heads up Alltech's China business.

The life sciences outfit was valued at about $1bn in 2012. Total revenues are believed to be approaching the $2.5bn mark. In 2016, Lyons launched a Dublin-based accelerator to boost agri-tech start-ups with mentoring and funding.

In a statement, Alltech said to continue driving forward his vision for serving the agriculture industry through field-proven innovations, Dr. Lyons established a clear leadership structure, including:

  • Dr. Mark Pearse Lyons, Chairman and President
  • Alric A. Blake, Chief Executive Officer and Treasurer
  • E. Michael Castle II, Vice President and Secretary

As the company’ director of corporate image and design, Mrs. Deirdre Lyons will continue to further Dr. Lyons’ vision for Alltech’s global presence and their shared commitment to philanthropy and community involvement.

Funeral masses will be in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, on March 17 and in Dublin, Ireland, in April.

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