In 1945, Edward Lowe (1920-1995) created an industry when he developed a clay- based cat box filler as a favor to a friend. Upon realizing the potential of his product, he faithfully pursued informing people of the need his new Kitty Litter® could fill.
More than any man, Ed Lowe brought the cat in from the barn and out of the alley. Ed and the housebroken cat revolutionized the way people thought about cats and literally made them into America's favorite pet.
In 1985, Ed turned his attention to helping other entrepreneurs achieve their own goals by creating the Edward Lowe Foundation, a resource center dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small-business people through educational programs, information services, research tools, and other support services.
"The real roots of economic growth in the United States came about through the ingenious efforts of the entrepreneurial-spirited individuals and their small, independent companies, rather than through the giant companies. We must give redit to the mountain of men of the past - from them came the grassroots of American greatness."
"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,"
"As a general rule, change is brought about by discontent."
Entrepreneurship at an early age
A determined young entrepreneur with several businesses - some successful, some not - under his belt, Ed drew on his father's inspiration to drive him in pursuing his own dreams. After completing high school and serving four years in the U.S. Navy, he joined his father in the family coal and sawdust business. Realizing the commercial potential for his processed clay product, Ed left the family business and began the task of marketing Kitty Litter full time.
The early cat box filler years were dominated by Ed's uncommon perseverance. Literally hauling a trailer full of his new product from cat show to cat show across the country, he would provide free litter to each show's sponsor, in return for booth space from which to show off his wares. Word soon spread, and the business took off, eventually turning Edward Lowe Industries into a multi-million-dollar, multinational enterprise. In 1991, Ed sold the cat box filler portion of the business, focusing instead on the creation of new, innovative products for the agricultural and chemical industries, among others.
Key thoughts for entrepreneurs
Among the most notable of Lowe's successful elements was his undiminished determination and belief in what he was doing.
Upon marketing Kitty Litter to pet stores, Lowe also noted a larger market in grocery stores. Opposition from pet stores spurred him to create a separate brand, Tidy Cat for grocery stores so as to not infringe upon the pet store customer base.
Realizing the difficulties small-business people face in competing against large companies, Lowe created the Edward Lowe Foundation to assist entrepreneurs by acting as an informational resource.
Ed Lowe felt that pondering was an important part of life. Some of his most creative ideas came to him during the hours he would spend reflecting in his hometown of Cassopolis. He and his wife, Darlene, put together many collections of poetry about their lives and the undying passion they both had for championing the entrepreneurial spirit. Here is a sample:
You have an unending desire to do something. And when you do something, you have an Unending desire to do something else.
You have an unending desire to be someplace. But when you are someplace, you have an Unending desire to be someplace else.
You have a mysterious ability to explain something Without being understood - mysterious and Misunderstood, even to yourself at times.
You have the ability to see what is not there, Construct
in your mind things not constructed - Piece together
fragments of flitting thoughts
And at the proper time mold them into reality. You have an inborn instinct to know what is right And what is wrong - many times only On the verge, but you know!
Your many urges, desires and impulses are like The
tide of the sea - always coming and going,
Thoughts, like the waves instructed by the wind, Dictating whether they are lazy swells, choppy whitecaps Or thundering mounts - they cascade Through your mind with uncontrolled direction.
It's not easy to give up; it's not easy to stay put; It's not easy to go on riding wave after wave Of this unsatisfied impulse; to move, to construct, To dream, to do, but be instructed not to do.
The secret to satisfaction and success, then,
Must be dealt with very carefully by controlling
And adjusting the scales of deed to a delicate balance; A balance that will be compatible with your own. Strengths and weaknesses.
But be wary that they do not become overbearing. To those who do not understand.
So pledge to the creed, Oh, Entrepreneur, Bypass the negative, be patient with the structured, Be passive with the limited, be understanding to Those who are naive - But never let your words, thoughts and deeds Be smothered by those who cannot understand!
Books by Edward Lowe:
Hail Entrepreneur! : A Salute to an Endangered Species
The man who discovered the golden cat : the life story of Ed Lowe