Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009
Road to Palm Springs
Christopher E. Nelson, PhD
Des Moines, Iowa
Christopher E. Nelson, PhD, set out to become a physician and vowed never to work for the business started by his father in 1961. But that is exactly where he landed when he realized that he could touch many more lives through scientific research, and that Kemin Industries, a manufacturer of agrifood chemical blends, was the place to start.
After earning his doctorate in biochemistry, Nelson joined Kemin as a research developer in the company’s European office, developing many new products. In time, he progressed to director of the European office, to R&D director of the entire company, and finally to president in 1999. Since then he has expanded the business to foods, nutrachemicals, pet foods and pharmaceuticals.
Under Nelson’s leadership, Kemin Industries has become a nutritional ingredient manufacturer committed to improving the health and nutrition of people around the world. Its achievements include developing a process to extract lutein from marigolds and extracting a protein from potatoes that is used in weight management. The business now has 11 independent companies serving five industries in more than 60 countries, and annual sales have nearly tripled.
The company estimates that its products are improving the quality of life for 1.9 billion people a day. Nelson’s goal is to increase that number to 3.7 billion by 2017.