Business Irish

Thursday 18 October 2018

Alltech founder Pearse Lyons dies

Pearse Lyons
Pearse Lyons
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Pearse Lyons, the Louth native who founded the global Alltech biotech business in Kentucky, has died at the age of 73.

Mr Lyons had been hospitalised in the United States since November following complications arising from a heart procedure.

From Dundalk, the entrepreneur qualified as a biochemist at UCD before doing a PhD in Birmingham. He subsequently worked with Irish Distillers before heading to the United States in the late 1970s with his wife Deirdre and two young children, Mark and Aoife.

He was supposed to stay for three years, but remained and started Alltech with $10,000.

The company grew into a major international business. Alltech focuses on improving animal, crop and human health and performance through its innovative use of yeast fermentation, enzyme technology, algae and nutrigenomics. It also produces a range of beers and whiskey.

Deirdre, Mark and Aoife are all senior executives in Alltech.

The company - still owned entirely by the Lyons family - employs 5,000 people and generates annual revenue of more than $3bn (€2.4bn).

Mr Lyons had also invested in Ireland.

He opened an Alltech European Bioscience Centre in Dunboyne, Co Meath, in 1999, and last year, he opened the Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin.

Alltech CEO Alric Blake said in a statement that Mr Lyons was a "visionary entrepreneur who transformed the agriculture industry".

His funeral mass will be held in Lexington, Kentucky, on St Patrick's Day, with a service in Ireland next month.

Irish Independent

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