Just over a half century ago, Floyd and Elizabeth Lowe began what would become their shared life’s work and their enduring legacy: Lowe’s Pellets and Grain, Inc.
In the 50 years since, much has changed in the business Floyd and Elizabeth entered with their fledgling operation, though the three tenets on which the Lowes built their business remain as steadfast as ever: quality, integrity and service.
It was this foundation of a focus on customer satisfaction, combined with a good deal of foresight and business savvy, that paved the way for an agriculture operation that essentially defines business success in a small town. And the Lowe family wouldn’t have it any other way.
Floyd received backing through original shareholders Hunter Robbins, Louis Ricke, Sheldon Alverson, Alfred Meyer, Jim Metz, Charles Metz, Dennis Meyer, David Meyer, R.J. Sterchi and Robert Richardson from the outset. They believed in Floyd’s vision of the future of agriculture in Decatur County, which fit Elizabeth’s keen business sense to a veritable “t.” It was a match that not only got the company off the ground, but managed to set the stage for longterm success in the process.
Floyd saw a need for a pelleted feed mill in Decatur County, realizing this process resulted in a 20 percent increase in feed efficiency, according to information provided to the Daily News by the Lowe family. Lowe’s business began as a satellite company for Honnegger’s Feeds, based out of Illinois.
Floyd organized the corporation in January 1963 and began construction on the feed mill mere months later. By the fall, manufacturing had already begun. The calendar barely had time to turn to 1964 before Floyd saw his growing business was already in need of more on-site grain storage. This led to construction of a grain elevator capable of housing 350,000 bushels.
In the first decade of operations, Floyd and Elizabeth managed to add fertilizer sales and applications to their business, in addition to offering propane gas, seeds and chemicals. Floyd also began selling confinement hog buildings, which he designed and built. Floyd felt this endeavor would secure business for the company, though his and his wife’s focus remained centered on grain handling and feed manufacturing. After all, that’s what had gotten them this far.
By the early ‘70s Floyd’s sons had taken the reins of the company as stockholders, meaning the Lowe’s business was in the hands of a single family. Moreover, the company severed ties with Honnegger’s Feeds and became an independent manufacturer of complete feeds. It was at this time, specifically in 1972, when the company partnered with Carl S. Akey, using his nutrition line.
Independent and well on its way to being a major player in several different aspects of agricultural sales, Lowe’s expanded by adding an additional 400,000 bushels of storage in the mid-’70s. Twenty years later, the company added another 275,000 bushels of storage. Today’s storage capacity allows for more than a million bushels of grain to be stored on site. An additional plant in Milroy can hold nearly half a million bushels.
All the while, Floyd and Elizabeth remained active in the business, seeing their sons, David, Dale and Don, follow in their footsteps.
Don’s vision of the company led to significant expansion, branching out with new operations in Kentucky, Ohio and the northern part of Tennessee. Prior to his passing in 2011, Don oversaw some of the greatest growth for the company. When Don died, ownership passed to a third generation — a rarity in any business — that today hopes to continue the proud tradition of the company.
Alan Lowe, Don’s son, serves as manager and president of today’s Lowe’s Pellets and Grain. Alan is joined by more than 30 employees, split between two shifts, who manage the massive tonnage moving through the feed mill each day.
But no company, no matter how efficient, can exist without a base of loyal customers; and it is those patrons to whom the Lowe family most wishes to express its appreciation.
“We would like to thank our customers for their loyalty and support through all these years,” the family said through a prepared release. “With your continued help, we will be here to serve you another 50 years.”
Another source of pride for the Lowe family is the ability of their business to support the needs of a bevy of barnyard life, from swine to poultry to sheep, rabbits and nearly everything in-between. These feeds are available in several different varieties aimed at suiting the needs of every customer.
A half century of success may not have immediately been on the minds of Floyd and the late Elizabeth Lowe when they began their company in 1963, but doing right by their customers most certainly was. And as the company passed from father to son to grandson, so did the desire to give back to those whose patronage built the venerable feed company.
To that end, the week of Feb. 18 to Feb. 22, which is recognized as National FFA Week, will see proceeds from the sales of the first 50 customers (Monday through Friday) donated to five different ag-centric local organizations.
Monday’s proceeds will go to the Decatur County 4-H Council. All three local school systems’ FFA programs will each be designated its own day as well, with Tuesday benefiting Greensburg, Wednesday boosting South Decatur, and Thursday lending a helping hand to North Decatur.
The Decatur Count Community Foundation’s Ag Field of Interest Fund will be Friday’s beneficiary.
The anniversary celebration doesn’t end there, however, as Lowe’s staff will offer tours of its feed manufacturing facility for these groups.
Most prominently, in an effort to bolster the educational opportunities of those who will one day become the faces of agriculture in Decatur County, Lowe’s will offer a $1,000 scholarship to one senior from each local school system. The student is required to attend a post-secondary school and study agriculture or a related field in order to be eligible. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is Wednesday, Feb. 20. Winners will be announced at the annual Ag Day celebration at the Decatur County 4-H fairgrounds April 9.
The Lowe’s birthday celebration is planned to continue well into the summer, too, with “Pork Chop Day” set for July 13. This is a customer appreciation day that will also include a tour of the Lowe’s Pellets and Grain mill. The company will also show its appreciation for the late Don Lowe when 50 trees are planted at the Greensburg Country Club later this year. Don was an avid golfer and Country Club member, according to his family, and the soon-to-be-planted trees are intended to replace those that were destroyed in the May 2011 tornado.
For more information on Lowe’s Pellets and Grain, Inc., call 812-663-7863.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056