So you’re a Lowes shopper, or you just wanted to know more about the company. Like, if it’s a black owned company or not. This is what we’ll explore today.
Is Lowes Black Owned?
No, Lowest is not black owned.
Due to being heralded as such, it may come as a surprise for many to hear that Lowes is not a Black-owned company.
This is because Lowes is a publicly-traded company, meaning shares of the company are available on the open market for anyone to purchase.
Currently, The Vanguard Group Inc. owns the most shares of LOW at 8.24%. Still, Lowes does not have a majority shareholder, meaning no one entity or person has control or influence over Lowes.
And, although Lowes is not a Black-owned company, it is a Black-run company.
History of Lowes
The story of Lowes begins in Wilkesboro, North Carolina with founder Lucius Smith Lowe. In 1921, L.S. Lowe opens Lowe’s North Wilkesboro Hardware, a general store offering everything from hardware to building, sewing, dry goods, horse supplies, and tobacco.
When L.S. Lowe dies in 1940, his daughter, Ruth Buchan, inherits the store. In the same year, Ruth Buchan sold the company to her brother, James Lowe.
In 1943, James Lowe recruited Carl Buchan as a partner in the company. The company began to focus primarily on hardware goods after Buchan predicted a surge in construction following World War II.
Lowes began to expand with Buchan becoming the sole owner in 1952, and a total of six stores operating by 1955.
Following Buchan’s death in 1961, Lowe’s became a publicly-traded company. From this point on, Lowes expanded, becoming a nationally recognized Fortune 100 corporation in 2002.
In 2007, Lowes began to expand internationally, opening stores in Canada, and an office in India. From 2005 to 2018, Robert Niblock was the chairman, president, and CEO of Lowes.
Today, Marvin R. Ellison is the chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Lowes, making it a black-run company.
A Brief Summary of the History of Lowes
Just like all fortune 500 companies, Lowes had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was North Carolina, 1921. However, Lowe’s didn’t become the hardware store we know today until after WWII and James Lowe’s relinquishment from the company.
Today, Lowes is one of the largest hardware and home improvement retailers in North America. Home Depot is largely considered to be one of Lowe’s primary competitors since both entities sell similar products at similar rates.
During heightened tensions within the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, many came to favor Lowe’s since it was mentioned that it is a Black-owned business.
Yet, as we’ve learned, Lowes is a public company with no majority shareholders. However, Lowe’s is a Black-led company, helmed by CEO Marvin Ellison.
Lowe’s CEO Marvin R. Ellison
According to CBS, Marvin R. Ellison is one of the three Black Fortune 500 CEOs in the United States. Ellison’s previous work in the realm of corporate America was at J.C. Penney Co. as the chairman and CEO.
Ellison attended the University of Memphis. At the University of Memphis, he received his Bachelor’s degree in business administration. In addition, he continued his education at Emory University, where he obtained a Master’s of Business Administration.
As the son of a sharecropper and an upbringing in segregated rural Tennessee, Ellison is certainly familiar with racism in America. In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Ellison shares his thoughts on the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American male, murdered by the Minneapolis police in 2020.
In the article, Ellison states that the social unrest and division resulting from the murder of George Floyd is exhausting, and that he feels he speaks for all Black people in feeling the stress and pain from the incident.
As one of the few Black leaders in corporate America, he broadcasts his commitment to creating a company where race is acknowledged, talked about, and understood. Ellison began conducting meetings with his employees to talk about race in an open and comfortable environment.
By opening up the conversation about race relations in the workplace and beyond, Ellison has pushed towards an inclusive, accepting environment.
Aside from his background and efforts to improve race relations in the workplace, Ellison’s leadership skills and professionalism have granted him notable titles such as Top CEOs, 2017 Father of the Year, World’s Greatest Leaders, and Corporate Executive of the Year.
More on Marvin R. Ellison
Ellison is the first Black CEO of not one, but two Fortune 500 companies. Although unfortunate, Ellison’s first-hand experience with race in America is indisputable.
From his early days in rural America with seven siblings to supporting himself through college, it’s clear that Ellison has an extremely strong work ethic.
If you’re still not convinced, Ellison worked his way to top leadership positions in Target, JCPenney, and Home Depot until 2018, when he became the CEO of Lowes. He plans on remaining at Lowes indefinitely.
Lowes and The Black Community
Lowes is a home improvement store employing roughly 300K associates in North America. According to the Lowes website, the company completes over 19 million sales a week and, in 2021, achieved $96.3 billion in sales.
In 2021 Lowes invested $100M in communities, strengthening its commitment to promoting positive environmental, economic, and social change.
For example, in 2020, Lowes gave $9 million to hometown community investments in Charlotte to support safe and affordable housing, the trade industry, technology access, and small businesses.
Additionally, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lowes announced its support for minority-owned businesses with $25 million in grants to help small businesses recover- even if some of those small minority-owned businesses were in competition with Lowes.
Moreover, Lowes joined the OneTen Coalition. The OneTen Coalition is a company led by chief executives committed to advancing the careers of one million Black Americans through training and hiring.
In addition, more than half of the Lowes board members are women and/or from diverse backgrounds. Here are a few more ways Lowes contributes to the Black community:
- Expanded unconscious bias training,
- Diversity and inclusion programs for talent scouter teams,
- Bias training for store associates, and
- Works with suppliers who own and/or operate small businesses.
Internally, the company’s significance in the Black community remains true. According to an article on CNBC, Lowes has two Black executive vice presidents. In addition, two women, Seemantini Godbole and Marisa Thalberg make up the company’s top two executive positions.
How Lowe’s Is Unique
Lowes began publishing its yearly corporate responsibility report in the early 2000s as a way to share its social and environmental efforts. According to Lowes 2020 Corporate Responsibility report, the company’s vision statement is:
- “Provide a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace where our associates can grow and thrive.”
- “Foster engaged and healthy associates and safe working environments.”
- “Play an active role in improving communities we serve by supporting safe and affordable housing initiatives and skilled trades education.”’
As a multinational hardware and home improvement company, existing primarily in corporate America, Lowe’s commitment to diversity and inclusion expands further than simply implementing programs.
Rather, its commitment to diversity and inclusion in high leadership positions, like key executives and the board, is precisely what makes Lowes a unique corporation.
Is Lowes Black Owned? Final Thoughts
Lowes has helped Black individuals thrive, foster, and grow. Although Lowes is not a Black-owned company, CEO Ellison has excelled in their commitment to diversity and inclusion and has set an example for other companies looking to advance their own diversity policies.
While unfortunate that the company is not black-owned, Lowes has an African American philanthropist as its CEO, who continues to drive the company forward to a more inclusive future. As Lowes continues its efforts toward workplace diversity, safe working environments, and community improvement, keep track of its progress through the annual publishing of its corporate responsibility reports.