Most of us don’t even know what enzymes are, but whenever we pump gas in our car or eat a slice of bread, the molecules have played a role.
Ryan Knight, one of the Waunakee Rotary Club’s newer members, makes his living selling products derived from enzymes to larger Fortune 500 companies. He gave his eye-opening classification talk at the Jan. 19 meeting.
A native of Benton, Wisconsin, Ryan is an account manager with Novozymes. He spends most of his time working from home, but a lot of it traveling – about 75 to 80 nights per year away.
With a bachelor’s degree in biology from Luther College, where he was a football recruit, Ryan went on to earn his master’s of business administration from Iowa State University.
His career has mostly been spent in business-to-business sales, except for a short navel flight officer contract with the U.S. Marines.
He chose to work at Novozymes because he wanted to get into an innovative based company. Novozymes is a spin-off of Novo Nordisk, a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Copenhagen.
Novozymes produces industrial enzymes for use in products such as household detergents, food and beverages, bioenergy and agriculture and feed. The company employs about 6,200 workers, and of its $2 billion per year in sales, 14 percent is used for research and development.
One of the largest customers is Proctor & Gamble.
So what exactly is an enzyme? Ryan explained that it’s a protein that takes the place of a chemical catalyst, either slowing or hastening bacterial changes.
As an example, Ryan said enzymes are used in breads to slow the process of mold formation and in light beer to convert more sugars out. In dairy products, lactase is blended in to promote easier digestion.
One third of the business is in the biofuel production, and Ryan’s team works on starch conversion.
Two of Ryan’s largest customers are Flint Hills Research and Marquis Energy. They purchase Novozymes projects for their ethanol plants. Ryan handles a lot of data management for these plants because they tend to run lean, he said.   
Ryan moved to Waunakee  because his wife grew up here and wanted to be close to home. Because his travels mainly take him to customers in the Midwest and to Raleigh, North Carolina, where corporate offices are, he needs to live in the Midwest and be close to an airport, so Waunakee fits the bill.
He enjoys fishing, hunting and rooting for the Badgers, Packers and Cyclones.
Ryan grew up in a small town with a tradition of community services, so he’s interested in serving locally and engaging with other professionals in the community, he said.

Other News:
•The club inducted Kim Langfeld as a returning member. Welcome back, Kim!
Guests: ?
Visiting Rotarians: ?
Birthdays: Jan. 26, Joseph Baer; Jan. 26, Jim Meyer; Jan. 26, Mark McFarland; Jan. 26, Eric Montie; Jan. 27, Pat Durden; Jan. 29, Gary Epping; Feb. 1, George Ohlendorf.
Anniversaries: None.
Greeters: Jan. 26, Nick Mischler and Dan Evans; Feb. 2, Eric Montie and Ed Niebuhr; Feb. 9, George Ohlendorf and Joe Olson; Feb. 16, Linda Olson and Danny Paul; Feb. 23, Ken Pesik and Jim Pingel.