Action-oriented learning

Leader Retreats at BRV are designed specifically for leaders of second-stage companies — entrepreneurs who have moved beyond the startup phase and have the intent and capacity for continued growth. Our retreat series addresses the many challenges that second-stagers face, which run the gamut from understanding industry forces and building infrastructure to scale the business to engaging employees and creating a compelling company culture.

Leadership Training

Each course builds upon the previous one and revolves around inflection points: how your organization is changing, how your team is changing and how your role as a leader is evolving.

Peformance Accelerator

Designed specifically for executives at second-stage companies, this retreat gives participants a greater understanding of the challenges their company faces in this phase of growth and how to manage them

Resilient Organization

Each course builds upon the previous one and revolves around inflection points: how your organization is changing, how your team is changing and how your role as a leader is evolving.

Everyone gets excited about startups or very large companies, and then there’s us — second-stage companies. In second stage, you’re not struggling to stay alive, but rather to grow and gain visibility. It’s a completely different phase of your business, and it can get lonely. One of the great things about retreats at the Edward Lowe Foundation is being able to spend time with leaders of other second-stage companies. You hear their struggles — not only in business but also on the home front — and know that you’re not alone.

— Chris Straw, founder and president of Team Quality Services in Auburn, Indiana

“One thing I’ve altered is the frequency and format of our meetings. Instead of having daily meetings with the entire staff, we now hold weekly meetings, which my production manager leads instead of me. I encourage employees to engage with each other when an issue crops up instead of tabling it for a group discussion. In addition, I’m trying to ask more questions rather than give answers. When it comes to my staff, I need to be more of a seeker of information and less of a dominant ruler. The retreat helped me temper that behavior.”

— Anita Mitzel, president of GraphiColor Exhibits in Livonia, Michigan

“Another important outcome, the retreat curriculum helped us nail down an employee performance management system. It gives us a whole new way to engage our employees, integrating our cores values with both individual and corporate goals.”

 

— David Galbenski, founder of Lumen Legal in Royal Oak, Michigan

Leader Retreats at BRV are designed specifically for leaders of second-stage companies — entrepreneurs who have moved beyond the startup phase and have the intent and capacity for continued growth. Our retreat series addresses the many challenges that second-stagers face, which run the gamut from understanding industry forces and building infrastructure to scale the business to engaging employees and creating a compelling company culture.

These programs challenge conventional thinking about how to grow an organization. Our curriculum is geared to push participants out of their comfort zone and get them to think differently. Each course builds upon the previous one and revolves around inflection points: how your organization is changing, how your team is changing and how your role as a leader is evolving.

Participants are not told what to do. Instead, we equip them with new information, tools and techniques that help them become more effective leaders — and learn how to create stronger, more profitable companies.

Click on a building to learn more Information Center Information Center The Welcome Center to the foundation stands near the site of the original Alleghany Schoolhouse. The name “Alleghany” may have come from settlers from New York who were reminded of the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains. The original school was built in 1875 and served generations of families in the neighborhood. The structure burned down and was replaced with another one-room building which operated as a school into the 1960s. A family then used it as a residence for several years. Gleason West Gleason West This house was built in 1905 by Archie Gleason for his mother, Jane Hebron Gleason. When Archie traveled to Chicago for lumber to build the house he took the plans with him. The people at the Chicago lumber company were so impressed with the design, they asked to keep a copy of the plans. On April 12, 1982 Edward Lowe purchased the 80 acre property, at that time, belonging to Ben Gleason.
Gench House Gench House The Gench House was once the hub of a small family farm owned by Frederick Charles “Fritz” Gench (1927-2010). In 1986 Gench finally accepted Ed Lowe’s offer to buy the property. For a time in the 1990s, the foundation used one of the outbuildings as a plant nursery to supplement the landscaping department. Hay, harvested from the surrounding fields, was stored in the sturdy old barn. Penn Church Penn Church Built in 1880 at a cost of $1,700, the building is constructed of wood entirely from this area. Its architectural style is called “Carpenters Gothic,” and its quiet intimacy lends itself to special programs, services and pondering. The Penn Church has been used for weddings, memorial services, a baptism and meetings of local community groups. As was his wish, Mr. Lowe’s memorial service was held in the church on October 9, 1995.

The history of the church dates back to the Quakers who settled in Cass County in the 1820s. Many were strong abolitionists, active in helping slaves escape along a major route of the Underground Railroad that went through Cass County. The Penn Friends Meeting House stood at the corner of Penn Road and Quaker Street in the village of Penn about two miles east of the foundation.
Anton House Anton House In 1855, Richmond Lake, who had come from New York with his family in 1843 to settle in Cass County, Michigan, bought the 40 acres which are currently known as the Anton Property. He and his family lived across the street at what is now called the Slipper Valley Homestead.

In 1873, Richmond’s second to the oldest child, James Madison Lake, who was born in New York in 1842, married Anna Tripp. They purchased the property from his father and took up housekeeping there. The property was known as the “Stone Abutment Farm.” They had one child, Grace, who was born in 1879, and died in 1894, two years after Anna died.
Slipper House Built between 1843 and 1847, the Slipper Homestead is a restored farmhouse, decorated in the Lowe’s typical classic country style, while retaining some of the antiques and fixtures that were in the house when Ed Lowe took possession.

The property was originally owned by Richmond and Hannah Lake, who came to Cass County from New York in 1843. Richmond and Hannah Lake’s daughter, Hannah Rosetta Lake married Benjamin Franklin Slipper in 1875, which is where the Slipper House got its name. The Slipper’s raised six children in the house: Archie, Maud, Blanche, Glenn, Hannah Nevada, and Grace.
Slipper House
Heritage Center Yes, it looks like a barn; actually, it is (or was) a barn that served the Slipper family homestead. With the interior renovated and with architecturally harmonious additions, it served the modern-day functions of an executive office.

Preserved features include handhewn beams, the remnant of a shed roof, barnwood walls and doors, and animal-worn stanchion poles. The fireplace in the conference room was made from half of an industrial steam boiler; (the other half has become a barbecue grill at the Pavilion overlooking Sharkey Lake).
Heritage Center
Barn House The renovation process began in 1977, and in the early 1980s, the Barn House became one of the Lowe’s primary residences: “Ed’s place (the Cabin) and my place,” as Darlene described it.

Transforming the old barn to a home was not a simple process. It involved removing the siding (which they retained to use various places on the inside), adding insulation, and the boards were replaced with poplar planks cut from trees on the property.
Barn House
Boxcars In early 1990, five railroad boxcars were purchased in Detroit from Grand Trunk. Each weighing about 20 tons, they were shipped to Cassopolis by rail, then brought the last few miles to Big Rock Valley by semi-truck. The cars were moved into a clearing in the woods at the Billieville Conference Center complex, arranged in a semi-circle, and set on railroad-track bases.

An addition was built on the side of each car to accommodate a large bathroom, entry, and utility area, and the main space of each car has been partitioned into a sitting room and two bedrooms. The interiors are tongue-and-groove paneled, and bunks, dressers, and closets are built-in, using wood harvested and milled on the property.
Boxcars
Billieville The buildings that are now part of Billieville were originally just pole barns out in the woods, used for storing antiques and equipment. To help fill the need for meeting facilities, it was decided to create a conference area in the peaceful surroundings of this wooded area of the farm. Ed Lowe, with his whimsical sense of fun, designed the facades as old storefronts modeled after a turn-of-the-century town. The name is for his wife, Darlene, whose middle name is Billie. Billieville Ed’s Caboose Reminiscent of a time gone by, the wooden caboose sits by itself not far away from the Tower of Tomorrow. It was one of Mr. Lowe’s favorite “pondering spots” overlooking the cabin ponds and provided the perfect combination of isolation and coziness to bring out the best in him. The shear oddity of it’s location is enough to make passerbys smile. It’s also hard to miss with its bright orange paint.

Although guests do not currently use the caboose for lodging, the foundation maintains this location as another way of honoring Ed’s creative process and his unique sense of style when he brought this out to be part of the Billieville complex.
Ed’s Caboose
Ed’s Cabin Ed and Darlene’s Cabin was originally just the west section, basically the portion that was a combination living room/kitchen, small bedroom, and bathroom with a storage area beneath. A large addition was built in 1986 adding a sunny atrium (everything was glass except the floor) leading to Ed and Darlene’s bedroom and bathroom with a shower with a door that led onto the deck with two working bathtubs.

The oil cans and tools were Ed’s finds, usually at auctions and antique shops. The levels that used to hang on the wall now hang at the Tower of Tomorrow. The doghouse, wine cellar, and outhouse have been there for years.
Ed’s Cabin
Tower of Tomorrow The Tower of Tomorrow honors one of Ed Lowe’s dreams — to construct a high-rise building at BRV. Although not apparent from its entrance, the building resembles a tower when looking at its rear exterior from the bottom of the hill. The Tower provides nearly 11,000 square feet of meeting space. Opened in late 2010, this facility enables the foundation to host larger groups for its educational programs.

This building also has the distinction of being certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, which encourage good environmental practices and energy conservation.
Tower of Tomorrow