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 moreand 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 toothanks 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 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.
from The Great Idea Finder
The Great Idea Finder
Invention of Kitty
The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 helpthen the American entrepreneur won't survive."
- Edward Lowe, inventor of "Kitty