Organic and Environmentally Friendly Lowe Products Company, Inc.
From top-quality mulch to the richest soils, every product sold by Shepardstown,
WV-based Lowe Products Company, Inc. is . Founded in 1972 by John and Betty
Lowe, both former school teachers, Lowe Products can claim its place as one
of the original pioneers of producing shredded hardwood mulch.
While the company
began as a modest operation, Lowe Products is now one of the largest and most
modernized organic packaging facilities on the east coast. But, all of the Lowe
familys success and mastery didnt come without an ample amount of
diligence, hard work and most importantly, a strong sense of loyalty from both
family members and employees alike.
My dad founded
the company, my mom did all of the bookkeeping and my older brother John and
I were already shoveling mulch into bags when I was around eight years old,
says Scott Lowe, current vice president of Lowe Products Company, Inc.
My dad had
been a teacher for a number of years, then worked for a lumber by-product company,
but eventually decided that there was such a great use for the by-product that
he started his own business.
everything the he had, even the Lowe family home, John Lowe invested in his
by-product business concept and the family has since been reaping the fruits
of their labor. And, there was a lot of labor involved, says Scott.
As we shoveled
bag after bag of mulch, my brother John and I kept saying to each other that
there must be a better way to do this, he says.
we found a better way, but not before wed filled our share of bags by
In the mid1970s,
Lowe Products Company still had a modest bagging and grinding facility wherein
they produced both mulch and soil products, but the demand for their stock was
getting stronger and located only 50 miles west of Washington DC., the company
was poised to take control of the major market as the main supplier of top-grade
Over time, they
were able to make small upgrades, purchasing loaders, conveyors and other basic
equipment and ultimately, to grow the company to upwards of 120 employees. Their
former method of bagging mulch by hand slowly matured into a partially-mechanical
process that utilized a few machines helped increase productivity.
But with only an
minimal amount of automation, the Lowes believed that there still had
to be a better way to run the company, an even more technologically-advanced
method of heightening efficiencies. The choices they made next enabled them
to downsize from nearly 120 employees to their current number of 48 while producing
more product in less time.
to exercise the option of creating more automation and experimenting with pieces
of equipment that would allow us to decrease the manpower that we once needed,
several automated lines with the equipment we bought. Weve been so successful
that we try to keep much of these components confidential so we can retain our
The company purchased
a series of grinders, screeners, conveyors, more loaders and a number of other
units that together, have made Lowe Products a leader in the industry.
Each of their automated
processing lines begins with a thorough pre-screening stage. After screening,
materials in one of their lines are fed into an 860 hp Diamond Z 1352BL grinder
A radial stacking
conveyor is then used to stockpile products in different areas throughout the
property. Their remaining two lines incorporate a variety of machines including
a Vermeer grinder and two Jones grinders as well as a slew of additional stacking
conveyors. By automating much of their bagging process, the company has been
able to diminish their production from five bag lines that once required a enterage
of laborers to three bag lines that now require hands-on help from only 7 workers.
Collaboratively, the three lines routinely produce nearly 65,000 bags of product
each day, a figure thats more than double their previous production rate,
We also have
our own fleet of around 18 tractors with over 350 trailers that we have at sites
all over the tri-state area.
The trucking division
of Lowe Products has expanded along with their bagging operation, with a reported
12% to 15% increase in sales each year, he says. And, along with the companys
trucks, they also have 10 fork lifts, three rubber-tire John Deers loaders and
three rubber-tire CAT loaders.
Situated on nearly
100 acres, Lowe products currently services garden centers, landscapers and
maintenance operations throughout the Baltimore and DC. areas. Grass clippings
and leaves are regularly gathered up from surrounding communities and taken
to Lowes composting facilities to be mixed into potting soil and eventually
sold back to the companys customers.
In all, the company
bags around 28 different products including everything from play sand and mini
pine nuggets to topsoil, potting moss and potting soil.
With so many products
to choose from, the company created a unique mix-match load service to accomodate
the varying needs of their customers.
only have so much space for each type of product, so by offering mix-match loads,
we can deliver several different products at one time, saving them money, but
them from having to take more of one product than they want.
We also have
a pallet recycling shop that takes in pallets from our customers, rebuilds them
and we then reuse the pallets to ship our products again,says Scott.
around 80,000 pallets a year for this use.
After several decades
in the business, John Lowe III now resides as president of Lowe Products while
Scott is the companys vice president. Their younger brother Phil oversees
Potomac Farms Nursery, a division of Lowe Products that was spun off from the
main company in 1984 and a fourth brother, Matthew, is in charge of the companys
Maryland-based wholesale distribution outlet that also sells soil and mulch.
We do have
family members in this business, but we also have a core group of people including
truck drivers, fork-lift operators, supervisors, mechanics, production people
and loader operators, some of whom have been with us for 19 years, he
been so loyal to our company that theyve become somewhat of an extended
For more than a
decade, Caldwell, ID-based Diamond Z Manufacturing has been one of the global
leading manufacturers of heavy-duty industrial grinders in the industry. The
company currently manufactures eleven industrial tub grinder models that range
in size from their 1136B, which has an 11 ft.
tub, a 36 in. hammermill
and is driven by a 425 hp engine to their 1463BT that boasts a 14 ft. tub and
twin engines that depending on the option selected, can put out upwards of 2,000
offers a number of different models to suit any application including the worlds
first high-volume MSW grinder plus two trommel screen models that are custom-designed
to be used in any wood waste, green waste and C&D processing applications,
says Michael Weible, marketing advisor for Diamond Z.
We also feature
two new innovative horizontal grinders that are used in many different large-scale
applications.While many of Diamond Zs smaller grinder models are
often used to process stumps, logs, green waste and other types of wood debris,
their largest units are capable of producing more than 100 tons per hour of
processed materials such as stumps, logs, railroad ties and heavy-duty construction
waste, says Weible. Lowe Products Company Inc., a Shepardstown, WV-based producer
of mulch, top soil and a wide array of landscaping products, recently purchased
a Diamond Z 1352BL tub grinder for use in one of their mulching and bagging
lines. According to Scott Lowe, vice president of the company, they had tested
a slew of grinders over the years in an on-going search for the one machine
that could efficiently produce the greatest amount of product with the least
amount of manpower and little down-time.
been looking for a heavy-duty, streamline, simple-to-operate grinder that has
a high production capacity for many years now, says Lowe.
ago, we bought a Diamond Z grinder and have been very impressed at its
production capabilities and its ease of use.
regard at the core of the companys belief system, Lowe Products found
that their Diamond Z tub grinder indeed meets their specific processing needs,
enabling them to significantly increase production of products made from waste
produce around 200 to 250 yards per hour, but were getting 500 to 600
yards per hour out of our Diamond Z grinder, says Scott.
It also requires
so much less maintenance because its so heavy-duty and our cost per cubic
yard has greatly reduced because of its capacity.
The sales and support provided by Diamond Z are additional benefits that have made Lowe Products purchase and use of the manufacturers 1352BL grinder a wise decision for the company, he says. And, with one of the highest resale values of any grinder on the market today, Diamond Z customers like Lowe Products are making a strategic investment in the future of their operations.