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Fascinating facts about Edward Lowe
inventor of Kitty Litter in 1947.
Edward Lowe
Inventor: Edward Lowe
Edward Lowe photo courtesy Edward Lowe Foundation
Criteria: First to invent. First practical. Entrepreneur.
Birth: July 10, 1920 in St. Paul, Minnesota
Death: October 4, 1995 in Florida
Nationality: American
The Start of the Big Idea
Ed Lowe was born July 10, 1920 in St. Paul, Minnesota to Lulu and Henry E. Lowe. His family later moved near Cassopolis, Michigan, where Ed spent his youth before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1945.

After his Navy duty, Ed joined his father's company in Cassopolis, which sold industrial absorbents, including sawdust and an absorbent clay called Fuller's Earth. One day in 1947, Ed was approached by a neighbor who was tired of using ashes in her cat's box and dealing with sooty paw prints. She asked for some sand, and 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 a Market
Ed had a hunch that other cat owners would love his new cat box filler, too, 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 Brand. "So give it away," Ed told him. Soon customers were asking for more–and were quite willing to pay for it.

The rest, as they say, is history. Ed started visiting cat shows, where he cleaned hundreds of cat boxes each day in exchange for a booth to display his new product. Crossing the country and visiting local pet shops, Ed continued to sell Kitty Litter Brand from the back of his 1943 Chevy Coupe. Cat owners all over America soon fell in love with this product's odor control and absorbency.

In 1990, prior to the divestiture of its clay mining and consumer product businesses, Edward Lowe Industries, Inc. was the nation's largest producer of cat box filler with retail sales of more than $210 million annually. His product, once sold in simple brown paper bags, had improved too–thanks to Ed's innovative approach to business. Kitty Litter Brand, which was 99 percent dust free, was sanitized with Healthguard and provided a better environment for cats and their owners by controlling growth of odor-causing bacteria.

Quality Products
Quality has always been 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. Company scientists at a modern Research and Development Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, continually worked to upgrade existing products and spawn new ones. There was even 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 which permitted 24-hour television monitoring of resident cats.

Ed's devotion to customer service and satisfaction has never changed since that day in 1947, when he offered help to a neighbor. Every bag of Ed's cat box filler contained a personal money-back promise of satisfaction. He firmly believed that's the only way to do business.

Ed made the same kind of commitment to rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit in American business. And he was recognized for his contribution. In 1988, he was the recipient of the Babson College Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs Award and the Arthur Young Distinguished Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award.

Until his death on October 4, 1995, Mr. Lowe resided at his ranch in Florida where, with his wife Darlene, they raised cattle, horses, and oranges. At the same time, they actively managed the Foundation and still put much of their energy into nurturing entrepreneurship. These efforts continue under the direction of Mrs. Lowe and the Foundation's board of trustees.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
The Entrepreneur    from The Great Idea Finder
The Philanthropist   from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of Kitty Litter    from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Hail Entrepreneur!: A Salute to an Endangered Species
by Edward Lowe / ISBN: 0805936599 / This title is out of print.
The man who discovered the golden cat: the life story of Ed Lowe
by Edward Lowe / ISBN: 0961884800 / This title is out of print.

ON THE WEB:
Edward Lowe Biography
Even among the burgeoning lists of highly successful entrepreneurs, Edward Lowe occupies a special place. From the official Edward Lowe Foundation Web site.
(URL: edwardlowe.org/index.peer?page=FDNfounders)
Kitty Litter / Tidy Cats History
In 1964, Lowe created Tidy Cats brand and it was sold openly in grocery stores. Kitty Litter Brand continued to be sold only in pet supply stores.
(URL: www.tidycat.com/)
Edward Lowe Foundation
Edward Lowe committed a good part of his fortune to create "... a whole campus for entrepreneurs" at a private 3,000-acre complex outside his boyhood hometown of Cassopolis, Michigan. In 1991, he donated this estate for the headquarters of the Edward Lowe Foundation.
(URL: www.edwardlowe.org/)
From Kitty Litter to the Edward Lowe Foundation
We learn how an entrepreneur, Edward Lowe, discovered a product and created an industry. We learn about branding, succession, and the mind of the entrepreneur. From Small Business School.
(URL: www.smallbusinessschool.org/)
Small Business Network
The Edward Lowe Small Business Network-an information toolbox based on a collection of over 3,000 documents and links selected from government agencies, small business consultants, and chapters of books from small business publishers. Contains information for starting, running, and growing a small business.
(URL: www.peerspectives.org/)

WORDS OF WISDOM:
"My life has been a testimony to the credo of the entrepreneur. People like me who have lived the dream should share their knowledge with others, because if private sector business doesn't help–then the American entrepreneur won't survive." - Edward Lowe, inventor of "Kitty Litter"
 

Copyright 1999 Edward Lowe Foundation,
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised October 12, 2006.
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