• 800-232-LOWE (5693)
  • info@lowe.org
  • 58220 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031

Entrepreneurial DNA

“Ed was a real entrepreneur’s entrepreneur,” says Dan Wyant, president and chief operating officer of the Edward Lowe Foundation. “He believed being entrepreneurial was something he couldn’t turn off, like a beagle’s innate tendency to chase rabbits. In fact, Ed even referred to an entrepreneur’s instinct for pursuing opportunity as ‘beaglism.’ He was constantly coming up with ideas, watching for opportunities and acting on them.”

“All entrepreneurs start out as small business owners, but not all small business owners are entrepreneurs.” 

Ed Lowe

A Portrait of Innovation and Enterprise

From an early age, Ed Lowe displayed an unusual amount of initiative. Growing up during the Great Depression, he found ways to generate pocket money, such as selling scrap metal and magazines and trapping nuisance animals. He collected popsicle sticks at a local park that had been discarded by summer concert-goers, trading them in for prizes (40 for a jackknife and 250 for a pup tent). Using recycled buggy wheels, he built his own scooter.

During his lifetime, Ed secured 32 patents, 115 trademarks and 36 copyrights. Many were related to Kitty Litter and Tidy Cat products, but others were not, such as a packaged firewood business, a method for plotting and disseminating data about violent storms, and an artisan glass company. Heidi Connor, who served as the foundation’s archivist for many years, refers to a list of some 70 businesses that Ed owned. “It shows the diversity of all he did,” she says. “Ed’s unrelenting nature drove his success. Even when he was relaxing, his mind never stopped.”

Fostering Entrepreneurship Through the Edward Lowe Foundation

Ed initially envisioned that Edward Lowe Industries (ELI) “would go on forever.” Yet in later years, this desire shifted into a greater legacy: to support entrepreneurs facing the same challenges he had experienced. As an entrepreneur, Ed strongly identified with the mountain men who pioneered the American West. “I realized I couldn’t perpetuate myself, but what about the breed?” Ed wrote. “What can my life do to help perpetuate the breed called ‘entrepreneur’? How can I help him and her along, make it easier to be a success, to gain strength and recognition?”

Ed began developing plans for different types of assistance, including a “cell system” that would help entrepreneurs tap expertise they did not possess to continue growing their businesses. To execute these programs, Ed and his wife, Darlene, launched the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1985.

“The dreams of great dreamers are not the same as those who only dream — one has an action plan and the other is just a dream.” 

Ed Lowe