Ed... From his birth in 1920, Henry Edward Lowe was destined to leave his own mark on the world. Through hard work, determination and a little luck, little Eddie grew up to create a whole new industry with his product, Kitty Litter.

Along with countless others helping over the course of his life, this timeline is dedicated to Ed’s entrepreneurial journey. We hope that it helps to inspire the next generation of inventors and tinkerers to keep going in the face of adversity. Maybe you will be the next person to invent an industry by seeing an opportunity before all others?
Edward Lowe The Story of Ed... 1920-1995 The Entrepreneurial Journey of Ed Lowe After his Navy duty, Ed Lowe returned to Cassopolis, Michigan and joined his father's company, which sold industrial absorbents, including sawdust and an absorbent clay called fuller's earth. In 1947 Ed was approached by a neighbor who was tired of using ashes in her cat's litter box and the resulting sooty paw prints. She asked for some sand, but Ed suggested clay instead. Soon the neighbor would use nothing else, noting that the clay was much more absorbent than sand and didn't track all over the house. The Start of the Big Idea Creating the Market Ed had a hunch that other cat owners also would love his new cat-box filler, so he filled 10 brown bags with clay, wrote the name "Kitty Litter" on them and called on the local pet store. With sand available for next to nothing, the shop owner doubted anyone would pay 65 cents for a five-pound bag of Kitty Litter. "So give it away," Ed told him. Soon customers were asking for more — and they were willing to pay for it. Quality was always a priority with Ed, and his products set the standards for the industry. Edward Lowe Industries was the only company of its kind with complete innovation and product-development centers. This included a "cattery" at Big Rock Valley, which was home to 120 felines who "worked" to assist in the development of new products. The cattery also boasted a fully staffed cat-care clinic, as well as an animal-behavior facility that permitted 24-hour television monitoring of resident cats. In the late 1980s, this operation relocated to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where company scientists at a modern research and development center continually worked to upgrade existing products and develop new ones. After creating a billion-dollar industry that established the cat as the nation's most popular pet, Edward Lowe set his creative sights on another goal — fostering and nurturing the American entrepreneur. As a result, Ed committed a good part of his fortune to create "... a whole campus for entrepreneurs" at a private 2,500-acre complex outside his boyhood hometown of Cassopolis, Michigan. In 1991 he donated this estate for the headquarters of the Edward Lowe Foundation. Product Quality The Edward Lowe Legacy
1920s Every great story has a beginning. Ours starts with Ed’s birth. From an early age Ed showed a curiosity for life that would later turn entrepreneurial.

Ed Lowe was born on July 10, 1920, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where his father, Henry Lowe, had been raised. Five years later the young family moved to Marcellus, Michigan, his mother’s hometown. (Henry Lowe and Lulu Huber had originally met in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where they worked for the Baker-Vawter Co., which printed office supplies.)
1920s The Story of Ed... Early lessons Early lessons Ed Lowe was born on July 10, 1920, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where his father, Henry Lowe, had been raised. Five years later the young family moved to Marcellus, Michigan, his mother’s hometown. (Henry Lowe and Lulu Huber had originally met in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where they worked for the Baker-Vawter Co., which printed office supplies.) While young Ed Lowe learned lessons of determination and hard work from his father, he developed a strong sense of humor and love of fun from his mother. One of his favorite memories of Lulu was of her making pancakes for breakfast shaped like cows, elephants and dogs. After the meal, Ed and his mother would then engage in “pancake fights” in the kitchen — tossing overcooked pancakes made from leftover batter at each other. In school, Ed struggled academically and had to repeat fourth grade. In his mind, he was a thinker rather than a student. “Studying is to follow the tracks of someone else,” he later wrote. “I like to examine things, solve problems and make imaginative projections.” Yet even though his report card may have been lackluster, Ed became a voracious reader and enthusiastic writer — a habit he continued throughout his life. In fact, as an adult he wrote several books, dozens of short stories, a play and a series of poem books. In Marcellus Henry Lowe initially helped his father-in-law, Loren Huber, operate a butcher shop and grocery store, but later Henry opened his own grocery business. This made the fourth grocery in the small town, and to differentiate himself, Henry transformed a 1926 Chevy truck into a mobile store of sorts, equipping it with shelves and cupboard doors. Henry drove the truck around the county selling groceries to farmers and sometimes bartering for their butter and eggs, which he then sold to folks in town. Henry also tried his hand at a number of other retail operations including a bakery, shoe store and ice-cream parlor. Gallery
1930s Ed was a thinker and a tinkerer. As he matured he was keen to spot opportunities around him. Never afraid to hustle, his work ethic and moral compass were setting him on a path for future business success.

Henry Lowe, who had been struggling with his various retail ventures, saw a new opportunity with the repeal of Prohibition in 1932. Henry got a liquor license for carry-out and bar service and opened a tavern in nearby Vandalia, Michigan. Later Henry pioneered an ice delivery business and sold sawdust as a grease and oil absorbent to meat packers and factories in South Bend, Indiana.
1930s The Story of Ed... Era of the double hustle Era of the double hustle As a young boy, Ed was often left to his own devices as his mother helped frequently with her husband’s many enterprises. Yet the move from St. Paul to rural Michigan ignited a great love of land for Ed, who spent considerable time hiking and camping in the woods with his cousin Loren. “Cass County has rolling meadows, the ridges and rills, the creeks and curling streams, the wood and the thickets – all the fixin’s for a boy’s joy-filled exploration,” Ed wrote later. “There’s just no way you can be bored when you love the land, when you have time to hike the hills and dale and have the ears to hear morning doves coo and corn grow.” His money-making endeavors intensified in his teenage years, which Ed referred to as “the era of the double hustle.” He collected and sold scrap metal and corn cobs, he had a newspaper delivery route and sold subscriptions to Saturday Evening Post and Colliers’ magazines. Ed also trapped small nuisance animals, such as rats, collecting 10 centers per rodent. Seasonal jobs including shoveling snow in the winter, mowing lawns in the summer and digging for fish worms. After graduating from high school, Ed worked in his father’s businesses and drove the ice route. Yet although Ed admired Henry’s determination and desire to make something of himself, there was increasing friction building between father and son. As he grew older, Ed became anxious to earn money for Tom Swift adventure books, movie tickets, summer Boy Scout camp and outdoor equipment, and he began to pursue a wide range of commercial activities. Rising early on Sundays and Thursdays, he collected popsicle sticks that people had thrown on the ground after their Saturday shopping excursions and Wednesday band concerts. The sticks could be redeemed for prizes. “Forty got you a jack knife and 250 got a pup tent,” Ed wrote. “It was worth the trouble.” Gallery
1940s Ed Lowe entered the Navy in 1942 and continued his entrepreneurial journey by selling labeling stamps to his crewmates while in the service. After leaving the Navy Ed returned to work for his father selling grease absorbents to local industries. Everything changed in 1947 when a new opportunity came knocking.

1940s The Story of Ed... Seeing an opportunity Seeing an opportunity In 1946 Ed Lowe joined his father’s business in Marcellus, Mich. Among other products, Lowe & Lowe distributed industrial absorbents for the Dri-Rite Co. A few month later, Ed’s neighbor, Kay Draper, stopped by the Lowes’ warehouse to ask Ed for some sand, explaining that the ashes she used in her cat’s litter box resulted in sooty paw prints all over the house. Instead of sand, Ed suggested she try some fuller’s earth clay he had in the garage. (This particular batch of aborbent clay had been sent as a sample by a Dri-Rite competitor, who hoped Lowe & Lowe would market his product.) Draper took the clay and soon came back for more, finding it far more more absorbent than sand. 9/1/1940 — Ed Lowe goes to work in the grinding division of Bantam Bearing in South Bend, Ind. The following spring he is fired because Ed’s father asks his boss to send Ed home “where he was needed.”
3/1/1942 — Ed Lowe joins the United States Navy.
10/26/1944 — William Kane is a special representative in Chicago for the Lyman B. Warren Co. of St. Paul, Minn. The Warren Company sells Flor-Dry and Cal-Flor-Dry industrial absorbents. Henry Lowe is a distributor for Warren products in lower Michigan.
5/17/1945 — William Kane establishes the Dri-Rite Co. of Chicago and appoints Henry Lowe as a Dri-Rite distributor.
3/1/1946 — Ed Lowe is discharged from the Navy and returns to his home in southwest Michigan.
4/1/1946 — Under the name of Lowe and Lowe Co., Ed Lowe joins his father selling ice and coal to residents of Vandalia, Jones and Marcellus, Mich. — and industrial absorbents to local companies. Commercial customers include Whirlpool, Bendix and Studebaker corporations.
9/19/1946 — William Kane sends Ed Lowe a sample of Dri-Bed, the double-action chick and poultry litter manufactured by the W. H. Barber Co. in Chicago.
12/1/1946 — Lowe’s Sawdust Co. hires Robert Follett as a truck driver.
4/1947 — J. Kelly Dick forms the Southern Clay Co. in Paris, Tenn., to produce oil and grease absorbents.
4/1/1947 — Lowe’s Sawdust Co. leases a building along a right away (R.R. # Ab R610) in Cassopolis, Mich., from Grand Trunk Western Railroad Co. This facility is used for weighing coal and bagging absorbent clay.
9/1/1947 — Kay Draper purchases fuller’s earth clay from Ed Lowe to use in her cat box. Soon she will use nothing but this product because it is more absorbent than sand and doesn’t leave tracks in the house.
10/1/1947 — At the prompting of Ed Lowe, the Davenport Pet Shop in South Bend, Ind., test-markets fuller’s earth from Ed to sell as cat-box-filler. Sales are so successful that Ed creates a label for his “dirt in a bag” that reads “Kitty Litter — absorbs and deodorizes — your kitty will like it.”
10/9/1947 — Ed Lowe purchases Southern Clay Co.’s first carload of fuller’s earth clay.
7/27/1948 — Ed Lowe becomes a Dri-Spot distributor and advertises in the Journal of Commerce for distributors of its fuller’s earth product. It receives interest from several New York City firms including the Brennan-Shea, Allerton House and Hilton Marvell companies.
9/1/1948 — In its first year, Kitty Litter participates in 30 cat shows across the country where Ed Lowe provides free product in exchange for exhibtion space.
10/28/1948 — The Harry W. West Printing Co. of South Bend, Ind., prints the first Kitty Litter bag.
11/22/1948 — Promotional mailings are sent to pet stores in the United States and Canada announcing Kitty Litter.
1/1/1949 — Ed Lowe is working double time — at Lowe and Lowe Co. and for Cleon Miner at The Machinery Co. Ed sells a large printing press for Miner and receives a large commission, which enables him to focus on building his Kitty Litter business.
1/1/1949 — Ed Lowe buys his father’s sawdust, oil and grease absorbent business and begins to market Kitty Litter nationally.
2/25/1949 — Kitty Litter can be purchased in Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Hudson’s of Detroit and Marshall Field’s of Chicago.
5/20/1949 — Ed Lowe advertises Kitty Litter nationally in House & Garden magazine, and orders began pouring in.
7/1/1949 — In cooperation with Trupal Pet Shop, WKAM radio station of Warsaw, Ind., announces over the air: “Kitty Litter … taking the place of sand … but doesn’t smell when used over and over.”
9/16/1949 — Kitty Litter is now available bulk in 50-pound bags or packed in 5-pound bags for resale.
12/29/1949 — Preparations are made for the first shipment of Kitty Litter to California, marking the only cat-box-filler available from coast to coast.
12/30/1949 — Lowe & Lowe Co. offers a Kitty Litter pan available through their jobbers.
After rave reviews from Draper and other neighbors, Ed established a new division at Lowe & Lowe, marketing the material as “Kitty Litter” at pet shops and cat shows throughout the Midwest. Two years later he purchased his father’s distribution business and devoted himself to building a national market for Kitty Litter. Gallery
1950s As his success continued with the cat box filler Ed looked to expand his product portfolio to include a whole range of cat-related products. During this time, Ed bought his first plant for the sole purpose of processing the Fullers earth. Vertical integration was part of the key to Ed’s success.

Kitty Litter’s popularity increased in the 1950s, and in 1955 cat owners spent $1.5 million for the cat box filler and other Lowe & Lowe products.
1950s The Story of Ed... Getting bigger Getting bigger Product expansion and savvy marketing helped Ed Lowe win both new and repeat customers. In addition to Kitty Litter, he had introduced a complete line of feline products that included sanitary disposable trays, shampoos, flea powder and cat toys. Ed placed print and mail-orders ads in pet trade magazines, made dealer aids available through jobbers and created incentive programs that offered bonuses to retailers with the greatest sale volume. 12/1952 — Life magazine mentions Kitty Litter in an article about the largest cat show in the country held in Los Angeles during National Cat Week.
10/1/1953 —
Ed forms a new company, Happy Day Products Inc., to overcome pricing problems and profit demands between the pet store market and the grocery industry. A few months later, Happy Day Products introduces Tidy Cat to sell in supermarkets.
1/27/1954 —
Kitty Litter ads appear in numerous magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, Cats, American Family, Sunset, American Home, McCall’s, House Beautiful, Ebony, Modern Romances and Parents’.
7/28/1954 —
Ed changes the name of his company from Lowe & Lowe to Lowe’s Inc. The new entity handles all pet items, including its flagship product, Kitty Litter. Offices are established in a house at the southwest corner of York and O’Keefe streets in Cassopolis, Mich.
1/28/1958 —
Ed purchases a clay plant in Olmsted, Ill. for $39,000 (minus eight years of back taxes) from the American Charcoal Co. in Detroit and renames the new company “Star Enterprises.”
3/5/1958 —
Lowe’s Inc. investigates the use of additives such as sassafras bark and oil, to control odor in Kitty Litter.
National distribution also played a key role in Kitty Litter’s success. In the early 1950s, most cat-box-filler was sold directly to small pet stores through regional distributorships. Yet Ed created an informal broker network that enabled him to scale sales quickly: After establishing 15 to 20 customers in a new territory, he would find a local wholesaler to buy a train-car load of Kitty Litter to supply those retail accounts — and open new ones. This enabled Ed to progressively tap larger markets, from local cat owners to regional pet stores to mail-order customers and commercial accounts across the country. Gallery In 1954 Ed introduced a new brand of cat-box-filler, Tidy Cat®, which was sold exclusively in supermarkets. Kitty Litter was then positioned as a boutique brand for pet stores and veterinarians. Although differentiating a core product through branding is now an accepted marketing practice, it was a novel approach at the time. To meet growing demand, Ed began to increase manufacturing efficiencies. In 1951 he moved his packaging operation from southwest Michigan to a facility in Paris, Tenn., to be closer to the Southern Clay Co., which provided raw material to his company. In 1958 Ed purchased a manufacturing facility and mining tract in Olmsted, Ill. This was a big milestone that enabled him to engage in vertical integration of mining, process and packaging.
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.

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.
1960s The Story of Ed... Staying ahead of competitors Staying ahead of competitors 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. 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.
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. Gallery * 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.
Expansion highlights included:
1970s Being number 1 in a number 2 industry was not something that Ed took lightly. Investing heavily in equipment, research, development and marketing, Ed aimed to stay at the top. More patents and trademarks were filed during this time in addition to some other grand ideas that never made it commercially. Ed was never afraid to push the envelope and try things that were hard.

Lowe’s Inc. was the world’s largest manufacturer of cat-box-filler in the 1970s, and its Tidy Cat brand was the No. 1 bestseller in grocery stores. During this decade the company focused on vertical integration of its operations to sustain growth.
1970s The Story of Ed... Sustaining growth Sustaining growth In 1973 Lowe’s sold its silica plant. The following year it acquired a processing facility in Oran, Mo., and began construction for a large plant in Bloomfield, Mo. Once completed, the Bloomfield plant produced almost twice the combined production of plants in Paris, Tenn., and Olmsted, Ill.
1/1/1970
— Ed Lowe helps organize the Sorptive Mineral Institute, a national, nonprofit trade association representing producers and marketers of products made from absorbent clay minerals.
1/1/1972
— Lowe’s Inc. and its subsidiaries employ 250 people.
2/1/1973
— Big Rock Valley Farm now consists of 2,400 acres.
10/8/1974
— Ed Lowe receives U.S. Patent #233,158 for a scoop used to remove waste from sanitary cat boxes, one of the 32 patents he receives during his lifetime.
7/1/1977
— Lowe’s Inc. establishes its first in-house advertising and promotion department.
9/1/1977
— Charlie Chuckles, an animated character serving as a spokesman for Kitty Litter, appears on television for the first time.
9/1/1977
— Lowe’s rolls out its new-and-improved Kitty Litter — the first cat-box-filler with a microencapsulated odor-control system.
Another milestone, Lowe’s launched an export initiative and in 1977 executives traveled to Europe to conduct market research. Both the cat-box-filler and agricultural granule market appeared to have strong potential, and Lowe’s formulated a program to utilize the Olmsted and Paris facilities, both located on rivers, as water shipment points. Gallery * Installing a 2,000 ton storage tank and air pollution control equipment at the Oran operation.

* Conducting a packaging conversion at the Paris plant that substantially increased its packaging capacity for litter products.

* Installing a new screening operation at the Olmsted plant that removed accumulated dust before litter products were packaged.
Improvements to facilities included: Although Lowe’s concentrated on vertical integration during the 1970s, Ed Lowe couldn’t resist scratching his itch for innovation and created a number of new products and services. Many were outside the absorbent clay business, such as Frenchy Bucksaw, a company that produced pre-packaged firewood, and Lowe’s Executive Auction Service, which auctioned everything from furnishings to farm equipment to electronics. Ed also purchased the town of Jones, Mich., and tried to develop it into a tourist attraction. By the end of the decade, all operations related to production, marketing and distribution took place at a Lowe’s facility.
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.

Lowe’s Inc. concentrated on expansion in the 1980s. It introduced new capabilities to existing markets and identified new markets for existing products.
1980s The Story of Ed... Era of expansion Era of expansion 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. 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.
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. Gallery * New Breakthrough Kitty Litter with a patent-pending formula, which launched in 1985.

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

* Tidy Cat 3 in 1982.
Improvements to facilities included: 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. Product innovations were key to fending off competition—with Fresh Step from the Clorox Co. being the most serious contender. Product introductions included:
1990s When Ed Lowe died in October 1995 the groundwork had already been laid to ensure that his entrepreneurial legacy would live on. Through his philanthropic activities both with the foundation and elsewhere, he established a template for paying it forward, so that others could benefit from his generosity. 1990s The Story of Ed... Encouraging America’s entrepreneurs Encouraging America’s entrepreneurs After creating a billion-dollar industry that established the cat as the nation’s most popular pet, Ed Lowe set his creative sights on nurturing other entrepreneurs. This included a number of investments and activities such as: 10/1/1990 — Led by Good Capital Co. of New York and Knightsbridge Inc. of Chicago, an investment group purchases the clay division of ELI.
6/21/1991 — Ed Lowe receives the Outstanding Creative Achievement Award from the Creative Education Foundation in Buffalo, N.Y., for his role in creating a major pet industry.
6/1992 — “Monuments to Free Enterprise” airs on national television. This documentary video, which was produced by South Bend-based Golden Dome Productions for the foundation, explores the personal and professional history of Ed Lowe and his efforts to help other entrepreneurs.
3/3/1994 — Ed Lowe presents the results of his Free Enterprise Briefings to President Clinton and Erskine Bowles, chief of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
6/1995 — A longtime supporter of his community, Ed Lowe donates $500,000 and land to the Cass County Council on Aging to jump-start construction on a proposed $2.2-million facility.
10/4/1995 — Ed Lowe dies.
On the corporate front, Ed sold his majority interest in Edward Lowe Industries in 1990. He retained, however, his stock in Granulation Technology Inc. and the patent for processing paper sludge into pellets, recognizing that there was a limited supply of clay for the cat-box-fillers but no apparent limit to the supply of paper sludge. He also purchased a glass company in 1991. This firm, which produced a line of glass tiles with unusual color and depth, won an American Society of Designers Award in 1994. Gallery * Speaking at universities, colleges and national associations to promote the importance of America’s entrepreneurs.

* Creating an Entrepreneurs Learning Service to provide entrepreneurs with quick answers to practical questions.

* Establishing an entrepreneur’s boot camp at Big Rock Valley Farms (BRV). Under the direction of the American Academy of Entrepreneurs, this initiative provided counseling and curriculum to reinforce the chances of entrepreneurial success. (In 1991 Ed donated his estate at BRV to serve as headquarters for the Edward Lowe Foundation.)

* Hosting a series of discussion groups to give small businesses a voice in national economic-development policy. Held in select Midwestern cities, these forums were known as the Free Enterprise Briefings.
Improvements to facilities included: Ed Lowe died on Oct. 4, 1995. His legacy includes a passion for entrepreneurship and recognition of its role in a robust U.S. economy as well as a commitment to land stewardship to ensure future generations can continue use and enjoy our land.

Early lessons

Ed Lowe was born on July 10, 1920, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where his father, Henry Lowe, had been raised. Five years later the young family moved to Marcellus, Michigan, his mother’s hometown. (Henry Lowe and Lulu Huber had originally met in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where they worked for the Baker-Vawter Co., which printed office supplies.)

In Marcellus Henry Lowe initially helped his father-in-law, Loren Huber, operate a butcher shop and grocery store, but later Henry opened his own grocery business. This made the fourth grocery in the small town, and to differentiate himself, Henry transformed a 1926 Chevy truck into a mobile store of sorts, equipping it with shelves and cupboard doors. Henry drove the truck around the county selling groceries to farmers and sometimes bartering for their butter and eggs, which he then sold to folks in town. Henry also tried his hand at a number of other retail operations including a bakery, shoe store and ice-cream parlor.

While young Ed Lowe learned lessons of determination and hard work from his father, he developed a strong sense of humor and love of fun from his mother. One of his favorite memories of Lulu was of her making pancakes for breakfast shaped like cows, elephants and dogs. After the meal, Ed and his mother would then engage in “pancake fights” in the kitchen — tossing overcooked pancakes made from leftover batter at each other.

In school, Ed struggled academically and had to repeat fourth grade. In his mind, he was a thinker rather than a student. “Studying is to follow the tracks of someone else,” he later wrote. “I like to examine things, solve problems and make imaginative projections.”

Yet even though his report card may have been lackluster, Ed became a voracious reader and enthusiastic writer — a habit he continued throughout his life. In fact, as an adult he wrote several books, dozens of short stories, a play and a series of poem books.