Purdom becomes Alltech Asia operations manager

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By Geoff Hamill

The Alltech animal health and nutrition company has given Springfield native Zach Purdom positions of increasing responsibility. Management apparently likes his work – they just put him in charge of an entire continent and ocean. Purdom will be taking over as Alltech Asia-Pacific operations manager this month, with an office in Beijing.

The lanky redhead said he’s never been to the Far East.

“I’m a little nervous – nervous excitement,” he said. “Definitely going in blind with the language and the culture changes. I’ve been trying to do my research, but I’m definitely going into the unknown, to some degree. But that’s not unlike anything else I’ve done for them. So, I’m just going out there and getting it done.”

Alltech identified China as the largest animal feed market in the world. The company expects China to represent 25-percent, or $1 billion, of its $4 billion revenue goal by 2016. Alltech plans to open 12 offices in the country in the near future.

On June 27, Purdom briefed the local Rotary Club on Alltech operations and his involvement with the company.

“The three core fundamentals that make up what Alltech does are, caring for the animal, focusing on the consumer, and being a company that manufactures and works in a way that is not harmful to the environment and promotes a healthy environment,” he said. “Alltech is essentially an animal supplement company, that was founded by Dr. Pearse Lyons. It’s a leader in improving animal health and performance by adding nutritional value to food. Most of our products are all-natural supplements that promote healthy nutrition for the animal and then pass that nutrition along to humans, through consumption.”

The manager said Alltech is much different than its competitors.

“What sets us apart from some other companies – we are a top-10 animal health company – we’re privately held and non-pharmaceutical,” he said. “Out of the top-10, our competitors are all publicly-held companies and many of them are also in the pharmaceutical market.”

Purdom said Alltech is trying to reduce the amount of drugs in animal supplements because those drugs are passed along to humans.

“A lot of our products are geared toward not using as many antibiotics in animal production, using natural supplementation rather than chemical supplementation, to achieve the same results,” he said. “Anything that you feed to the animal eventually gets passed on to the human consumer. So, less chemicals in the animal will mean more value-added product for the people.”

Purdom said Alltech’s bottom line is approaching $1 billion.

“We’ve been growing consistently for 32 years,” he said. “We’re moving toward being a $1 billion company. We’re probably going to hit that mark this year for the first time.”

Purdom’s first management test came when he helped organize the company’s annual horse show at the Alltech Arena in Lexington.

“If you knew where the restrooms were or where to get a snack, that was because of me,” he quipped.

Purdom then was assigned to Alltech management training, where he traveled to facilities in different locations, learning the various aspects of the company’s operations, from production management to logistics.  

“That was an exciting few years, meeting lots of people and working with people all over the world in these different departments,” he said.

Prior to completing the training tour, the company diverted him to take charge of a new production facility.

“I took a hiatus to work at our newly acquired algae facility in Winchester, Kentucky,” he said. “This facility specializes in algae fermentation. Algae can grow a couple different ways. One, it can grow through photosynthesis, with sunlight, like we see on a pond. We use the same concept, except we grow it in a sterile environment, like you would brew a beer. You’ve got these gigantic tanks and it takes the algae about nine days to grow and fill up a whole tank. It’s really rich in DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, so that’s got a big application in nutrition.

“A the time I went in, this facility had been shut down for five years, and we had six months to start it. So, it’s kind of like the horse park – ‘here’s what we need’ – and jump in there and do it.”

After returning to and completing the training program, Purdom was assigned to a new company acquisition in Florida.

“Lakeland Nutrition, down in Lakeland, Florida, was acquired by Alltech,” he said. “Lakeland represents a new initiative for Alltech, where we’re no longer just that animal supplement company. Now, we’re the actual feed company, as well. So, we’re taking those supplements, putting them in our own feed and showing our customer base – ‘here’s how to use our products more effectively than what has traditionally been done.’”

Recalling his school days in Springfield, Purdom talked about some teachers who helped prepare him for success.

“There were the Gibsons – they moved on from Washington County now, but they were very influential,” he said. “Monica Osborne - she was a very good teacher, as well. And Mr. Mester – Mr. Mester was also a great teacher.”

Zach is the son of Joseph and Karen Purdom, of Springfield. He graduated from Washington County High School in 2006. He obtained a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from Transylvania University in 2010.