SoMNSourceLink and others involved in supporting
entrepreneurs are familiar with the
Edward T. Lowe Foundation, creators of data on business start-ups and jobs
in the US found on YourEconomy.org. But as with most foundations, there is an
interesting story behind the man whose vision created a base strong enough to
establish this foundation. Ed’s story is found on the
Foundation’s web site:
After his Navy duty, Ed Lowe returned to Cassopolis, Mich.
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.
Creating the Market
Ed had a hunch that other cat owners also would love his new
catbox filler, so he filled 10 brown bags with clay, wrote “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, Mo., 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 2,600-acre complex outside his boyhood hometown of
Cassopolis, Mich. In 1991 he donated this estate for the headquarters of the
Edward Lowe Foundation. Ed died in 1995, but his legacy lives on through the
mission and vision of the foundation, a different model than practiced by the
typical nonprofit foundation. Instead of providing grants, they provide education
for second stage businesses and economic development groups. SourceLink
affiliates all over the country get the word out on support and education available
to our entrepreneurs as we provide a comprehensive place to find services and
education available from
our non-profit resource partners!
Content contributed by Maria Brown, SoMNSourceLink. SoMNSourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.