Alltech: Turning ideas into gold, on target for $4bn in annual sales

The deserts can be transformed if everyone makes one change. That was the “One Vision advanced at One: The Alltech Ideas Conference, in Kentucky last month.

Irish innovator David Hunt summed up the possibilities: “We have an opportunity today to use the tools that are here to create a utopia by 2050. We also have the tools available today to have this planet being a desert by 2050.

"The choices we make today are going to determine which one we leave behind for our children.”

Hunt’s presentations on using facial recognition to monitor cattle may seem like a big step for today’s farmers.

However, big ambitions for how the future will work are nothing new for Alltech, the company which gathered 3,000 attendees from 71 countries in their home town of Lexington in Kentucky — where Dr Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech, took to the stage at the company’s annual symposium, and asked the 3,000: “What is your one big idea?”

The Irish-born entrepreneur’s company’s ideas have been worth their weight in gold. Ideas like substituting easily produced algae for fish oil, which is a valuable but limited resource, as the main source of omega-3 in feeds to produce farmed salmon.

This and other ideas for natural solutions to challenges in food production are at the heart of Alltech, which has more than tripled sales in the last three years, and is on target to achieve $4 billion in sales in the next few years.

Dr Pearse Lyons’ son Mark, Alltech’s Global Vice President and head of operations in China, told the conference delegates in Kentucky that his father’s ideas and visions are sometimes so big that they are very difficult for even his family and others in the company to grasp.

But they eventually discover each vision is a winning idea.

Pearse Lyons himself says he is like a kid in a candy store looking forward to a 24/7 flow of business opportunities, and to overcoming the inevitable “catch” in each opportunity.

Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford were sellers, he told the conference. Jobs and Ford sold dreams, of communications and of transportation.

Lyons advises entrepreneurs to march right when the rest of the world marches left, to “go the road less travelled.”


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