The Story of Ed...

1980s

The 1980s saw the reinvention of his original product under the name Tidy Cat 3–a great commercial success that owed a lot to his marketing efforts. Continued product innovations kept his competitors at bay while he started thinking about what the future would hold, specifically the creation of a foundation in his name.

Era of expansion

Lowe’s Inc. concentrated on expansion in the 1980s. It introduced new capabilities to existing markets and identified new markets for existing products.

To compete with West Coast manufacturers, in 1980 Lowe’s purchased the production assets of Panamint Marketing Co. in Maricopa, Calif. Two years later it established European markets with Lawrence Industries of the United Kingdom and Skamol of Denmark. Automated packaging lines were installed in plant facilities to increase the daily capacity of finished product.

Product innovations were key to fending off competition—with Fresh Step from the Clorox Co. being the most serious contender. Product introductions included:

* New Breakthrough Kitty Litter with a patent-pending formula, which launched in 1985.

* A 99% dust-free Kitter Litter lauch in November 1985.

* Tidy Cat 3 in 1982.

Despite competition, by 1989 Lowe’s led the $300 million cat-box-filler industry in market share with Tidy Cat 3 and the Kitty Litter brand ranking as top two brands.

Grateful for his success and inspired to give back to the community, Ed Lowe decided to apply the profits from his various businesses to a cause he cared about greatly — entrepreneurship. In 1985 he established the Edward Lowe Foundation to provide information, recognition and educational experiences for entrepreneurs, which was headquartered at Big Rock Valley Farms, a 3,000-acre property northeast of Cassopolis, Mich.

[key factoids]

10/1980 — Sponsored endorsements for Lowe’s Tidy Cat brand appear on “The Price Is Right,” “To Tell the Truth,” “Hollywood Squares” and “Family Feud” television game shows, reaching more than 75 percent of U.S. households.

8/1981 — Lowe’s Inc introduces its Tidy Cat brand to the Canadian market.

10/1/1983 — Lowe’s Inc. implements a corporate-wide program to encourage wellness and good health.

11/1/1983 — The Maricopa plant undergoes a major expansion, including the addition of a 30,000-square-foot warehouse and a completely automated packaging line, which enables it produce 120 tons of finished product per year.

1/1/1985 — The New! Breakthrough Kitty Litter brand wins a three-year battle with the Clorox Co.’s Fresh Step to remain the nation’s leader in the cat-box-filler industry.

1986 — Lowe’s Inc. rolls out Scamp, a new brand of cat-box-filler.

6/30/1986 — To more closely identify the company with Ed Lowe’s role in corporate advertising, Lowe’s Inc. is renamed Edward Lowe Industries Inc. (ELI) and bears a new corporate logo.