The Story of Ed...

1960s

Business was good for Ed and warranted the construction of a new corporate headquarters in Cassopolis, Michigan. During this time Ed was also busy securing patents and trademarks for the assortment of new ideas he was bringing to market.

Staying ahead of competitors

The U.S. pet market experienced considerable growth in the 1960s, influenced by Americans moving out into the suburbs, growing leisure time and record incomes. During this decade, Lowe’s Inc. became the world’s leading manufacturer of cat-box-filler.

Packaging innovations, creative ad campaigns, and new product lines kept Lowe’s Inc. in the forefront of the pet product industry. In addition to its Kitty Litter and Tidy Cat brands, Lowe’s Inc. began manufacturing private-label cat-box-filler.

On the operations side, Lowe’s manufacturing facilities grew in size and capacity. The plants also became well known as models of efficiency, which helped the company maintain quality and cost-effectiveness as aggressive “me too” cat-box-fillers began to flood the market.

Expansion highlights included:

* Purchasing a longtime supplier, the Southern Clay Co. in 1965. Major improvements followed and the company started marketing clay as an oil and grease absorbent and — for the first time — as a carrier for fertilizers and insecticides.

* Eliminating a competitor in 1965 with the acquisition of the Tennessee Absorbent Clay Co. in Paris, Tenn.

* Developing a 35-acre industrial park in Cassopolis, Mich. (begun in 1964, completed in 1965), where Lowe’s built a corporate office and packaging plant and established a quality control division.

* Accumulating 625 acres of farmland near Cassopolis, Mich., by 1967. Known as Big Rock Valley Farm, this property was used for research and development of absorbent clay products for agricultural, commercial and domestic applications.

In fact, Lowe’s growth is so great during this decade that it was necessary to implement a computer system in 1968 to manage information of all the company’s divisions.

[factoids]

2/16/1961 — Lowe’s Inc. promotes new “track-proof” Kitty Litter.

1/1/1963 — Lowe’s acquires Petpak, a Milwaukee-based pet products firm, which included a bird bell operation. Two years later it moves manufacturing and packaging operations to Cassopolis, Mich.

8/1/1968 — The company opens the Mr. Friendly Pet Store in South Bend, Ind. Although the concept didn’t take off, Ed envisions a chain of franchised pet stores.

1/1/1969 — Lowe’s uses six semi tractor trailers to advertise Kitty Litter and Tidy Cat brands while transporting products throughout Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Estimated audience impression is 14 million people per year.

5/30/1969 — Time magazine writes an article about Ed Lowe’s corporate health incentive program, the I Can’t Afford to Lose You Club, which he established to motivate overweight executives to lose weight.