Ed Lowe

Edward 'Ed' Lowe (July 10 1920 - October 4 1995) was an American businessman and entrepreneur, noted for the invention of cat litter. [cite web|url=http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9112190|publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica|title=Lowe, Edward|accessdate=2007-10-25] The "Small Business School" described him as "building a huge business from nothing"cite web|url=http://smallbusinessschool.org/webapp/sbs/sbs/index.jsp?page=http%3A%2F%2Fsbschool.net%2Flowe-sg.html|publisher=Small Business School|title=Ed Lowe - teaching notes and study guide|accessdate=2007-10-25] , and cite him as a textbook example of an individual who "created a product, brought it to marketplace, invented an industry and sold his business for millions".cite web|url=http://smallbusinessschool.org/webapp/sbs/sbs/index.jsp?page=http%3A%2F%2Fsbschool.net%2Flowe-sg.html|publisher=Small Business School|title=Ed Lowe: The evolution of Kitty Litter, then the Edward Lowe Foundation (transcript)|accessdate=2007-10-25] By the time of his death, his company was worth half a billion dollars.cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9501E6DE1239F935A35753C1A963958260|title=Edward Lowe Dies at 75; a Hunch Led Him to Create Kitty Litter|publisher=New York Times|author=Robert McG Thomas, Jr.|date=October 6 1995|accessdate=2007-10-25]

Background

Edward Lowe was born on July 10 1920 in Saint Paul, Minnesota to Lulu and Henry E. Lowecite web|url=http://www3.babson.edu/ESHIP/outreach-events/Edward-Lowe.cfm|title=Edward Lowe|publisher=Babson College|accessdate=2007-10-25] . His family moved to Cassopolis, Michigan, where he attended high school at Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School.

He was in the Navy from 1941 to 1945. After he left the Navy, he worked for his father who sold industrial absorbents.

Lowe was married twice. He divorced his first wife in 1974, and married Darlene, an interior designer, who following his death took over as chair of the Edward Lowe Foundation.cite web|url=http://companiestowatch.org/index.ctw?page=pub/MI2007ed&part=2&-session=ctw:42F9468618daf031A5OWo3FF1F61|title=Entrepreneurs as Heroes|author=Darlene Lowe|publisher=50 Companies to Watch in Michigan|accessdate=2007-10-25] Lowe left behind four children and twelve grandchildren.

Invention of Kitty Litter

Before Lowe's invention, people kept their cats outside, using ashes, dirt or sand as cat litter when it was necessary to keep them inside. One day in January 1947, Kaye Draper, Edward Lowe's neighbor in Cassopolis, Michigan, came to him asking for some sand to use as cat litter. Her sand pile was frozen so she had been using ashes but they tracked all over her house. Instead of sand, Lowe gave her some clay called Fuller's Earth, a set of clay minerals capable of absorbing their weight in water. She found it worked far better than sand or ashes.cite web|url=http://www.lowe.org/index.elf?page=about&function=entrepreneur|title=Edward Lowe, entrepreneur|accessdate=2007-10-25|publisher=Edward Lowe foundation]

His career

In 1947, Lowe decided to sell the clay. He packaged it in 5 lb bags and called it "Kitty Litter". Then he went to a local pet store and asked them to sell it for 69 cents. The store owner refused, saying that it would not sell because sand was so much cheaper. Lowe told him to give it away free until people were willing to pay for it. "Kitty Litter" was a success. Lowe drove around the country selling "Kitty Litter". He even cleaned boxes at cat shows so he could get a booth to demonstrate his product. He founded Edward Lowe Industries and created "Tidy Cat" kitty litter in 1964. In the early 1980s he almost lost his market to Clorox, but by 1990 Edward Lowe Industries was the top producer of cat litter.

In Lowe's later years, he decided the best way for his business to continue after his death was to hand the running over to a management team funded by venture capitalists from New York and Chicago. The sale went through in 1990, with the company being renamed to the "Golden Cat Corporation"; Lowe remained as an equity holder and director.cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE6DA153EF930A2575AC0A966958260|title=Kitty Litter Maker Selling Operations|publisher=New York Times|date=September 13 1990|author=AP|accessdate=2007-10-25] The sale was later estimated by the "New York Times" as being $200 million dollars. Following his death, the group sold the successful company to Ralston Purina.

Later years and death

In 1988, Lowe was inducted into the Babson College Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs. He also started an academy to teach entrepreneurial skills in 1990. Lowe died on October 4 1995 in Sarasota, Florida at age 75 from "complications from surgery for cerebral hemorrhage". He left behind the Edward Lowe Foundation, which set up a digital library to help people start up small businesses.

References

External links

* [http://www.lowe.org The Edward Lowe Foundation]
* [http://smallbusinessschool.org/webapp/sbs/sbs/index.jsp?page=http%3A%2F%2Fsbschool.net%2Flowe-sg.html Ed Lowe] page from the "Small Business School" - includes resources and show transcript
* [http://companiestowatch.org/index.ctw?page=pub/MI2007ed&part=2&-session=ctw:42F9468618daf031A5OWo3FF1F61 Entrepeneurs as Heroes] - tribute to Lowe from his wife


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