Kemin Industries, a global ingredient manufacturer that strives to sustainably transform the quality of life every day for 80 percent of the world with its products and services, is launching its global “61 Since ’61” themed anniversary celebration to commemorate 61 years since its founding in 1961.
Every day, billions of people around the globe interact with any number of Kemin’s 500-plus specialty ingredients. Tortillas that stay fresher longer; dog kibble that is more palatable and nutritious; supplements that protect eye health; meat raised without antibiotics; apples free of pests and pesticides; denim that requires fewer resources to treat—Kemin science and solutions can be found in any of these everyday items.
Initially created to provide feed flavors, crop preservatives, and antioxidants to Midwest farmers, Kemin’s business has greatly expanded since 1961. Today, Kemin operates in more than 90 countries and applies its technologies and expertise in molecular science across a variety of industries to offer products with functional benefits that enhance the health and safety of people, pets, production animals, plants, and the planet. Six decades later, Kemin remains focused on transforming the quality of life.
With more than USD $1 billion in annual sales, the multinational, family-owned-and-operated company is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on the site of the old wool barn where Kemin’s co-founder, R.W. Nelson, created the company’s first products. The site is now part of a 70-acre campus that is home to Kemin’s USD $30 million global headquarters, built for future expansion and additional research facilities.
“For six decades, Kemin has continued to grow our global footprint with the foundational philosophy of serving others—from our customers to our communities—to improve the quality of life. This basis has driven Kemin’s product innovation and new market entry around the world,” said Dr. Chris Nelson, president and CEO of Kemin Industries and second-generation Nelson family member. “As an essential business serving the global food supply chain, our work became even more critical during the pandemic, and our employees, customers, and partners remained deeply committed as we all faced the crisis. In 2022, with a deeper recognition and appreciation of all we’ve accomplished together, we’re commemorating 61 years of innovation and celebrating our history.”
From an old wool barn to a global company
Kemin founders R.W. and Mary Nelson had yet to realize the trajectory of Kemin and its future impact on the world when they launched the company in 1961. Using their savings of USD $10,000, R.W. manufactured two product lines in his father’s old wool barn in Des Moines, and Mary managed the business and financial administration from the family’s living room—all while caring for their five children under the age of seven.
With an inventive spirit, the Nelsons successfully grew their business—initially named “Chemical Industries, Inc.”—beyond agriculture and the Midwest to currently serving customers in more than 120 countries, on six continents, and with more than 3,000 global employees.
Since founding Kemin, R.W. and Mary have ensured servant leadership and a deep commitment to bettering communities remain central to the company and their family. Their steadfastness has guided Kemin to partner with local and global nonprofit organizations in the areas of science and general education; affordable housing and food security; sustainability; and the creation of vibrant communities.
Kemin’s largest community partnership, with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), empowers Kemin food scientists and quality control experts to work alongside their WFP counterparts to create products and processes that safely and nutritiously aid those in crisis. Together, Kemin and WFP impact more than 25 million people each year, and Kemin products have served those in war zones and areas of crisis, including Yemen, Syria, and South Sudan.
The third generation of Nelson family members has now started to take on leadership roles within the business, continuing their grandparents’ legacy and philosophy of service. Now in their mid-90s, both R.W. and Mary remain engaged with the company.
“When we started the business, we never dreamed of what it would become,” said Kemin Industries Co-founders R.W. and Mary Nelson. “We’re grateful to all the employees who’ve worked at Kemin during the past 61 years and thank them for helping to create the company we have today. We are excited to watch the next generation of our family continue to build a better future for all through innovative science and service.”
“61 since ’61”: Celebrating innovation, servant leadership, and transforming lives
Throughout 2022, Kemin will celebrate its anniversary with customer events around the globe and a robust digital campaign to share the company’s history and important milestones that have impacted billions around the world. Global teams will host commemorative customer events to recognize the significant impact and positive change created by their collaboration and continued partnership.
Within the communities that Kemin employees call home, and in alignment with Kemin’s foundation of servant leadership and the Nelson family’s legacy of community engagement, team members will be donating an estimated 24,000 volunteer hours as part of a new Worldwide Employee Day of Service that encourages employees to select volunteer opportunities of their choice throughout the year.
“Kemin has always focused on using scientific innovation to help address global challenges, such as feeding the world’s growing population. Today, these challenges continue to build, so we must do our best to meet such demands, and to do so sustainably—without comprising future generations,” said Dr. Nelson. “It has been an honor to continue the legacy that R.W. and Mary created and witness the positive impact Kemin products have made in transforming the quality of life around the world for humans, pets, and animals. I am excited for the future of Kemin and the next 61 years.”
For more information on Kemin and its history, visit the “61 Since ‘61” website, which hosts resources highlighting the company’s rich history and its contributions and innovations that have transformed lives worldwide.