1994 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"I had more good luck than anybody else I knew. Some people say the harder you work, the luckier you get."
Born in Minnesota in 1918, Dwayne Andreas was less than a year old when his family moved to a farm near Lisbon, Iowa. There, Andreas and his five brothers and sister learned to live off the land. Andreas' father was a Mennonite who instilled in his children a strong sense of discipline and hard work, as well as a religious reliance on the land. "Some people would say we were poor, but we didn't think so," says Andreas. "We canned our own vegetables, grew oats for our horses, hay for our cows, and corn for our chickens and pigs. Food and farming is the religion of the Mennonites."
When Andreas was five, his family moved off the farm, but they remained in the rural community of Lisbon, operating a grain elevator. "The man who had owned the elevator died," says Andreas. "The bank asked my father to bring his family to town and run the elevator on the basis that when we paid off the dead man's debts, we would own it."
The public schools Andreas attended in Iowa expected hard work and discipline from their students. "I don't think there's anything like it that exists anymore," he says. "I think I was very lucky to get such a strong education."
Andreas graduated from high school in three years, and his parents sent him to Wheaton College in Illinois to study for the ministry. After two years, however, he left to rejoin his father and brothers at their now-expanded grain and feed business in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Andreas hit the road selling feed to local farmers for his family's business, Honeymead Products. He expanded their scope and kept things moving until he was drafted to serve in World War II. Not wanting to leave the business to others, he sold most of his assets to Cargill, a commodities firm in Minneapolis. Shortly thereafter, the war ended and his military call-up was deferred. Andreas returned to work for Cargill and was named vice president of oilseed processing. He stayed there until 1952.
Andreas went to work for National City Bancorporation, which had a good soybean plant. In the mid-1960s, Andreas consolidated the business with Archer Daniels Midland, where he was given control of the company through stock options. At the time, the company was worth $60 million. He took the company through a long period of expansion and profitability, making it one of the largest agri-business processing companies in the world.
Andreas has established a foundation that sponsors churches, educational institutions, and programs that feed the poor. "You have one billion people at the starvation level today," he says. "We have to help civilization grow." In addition to advocating international food programs, Andreas has established a foundation that sponsors churches, educational institutions, and programs that feed the poor.
Honored by his Horatio Alger Award, Andreas says, "I had more good luck than anybody else I knew. Some people say, 'The harder you work, the luckier you get.' But my work is far from done. As long as we have a billion people starving in the world, there is work to be done."