Looking to diversify its list of suppliers, Lowe's Cos. Inc.’s first virtual pitch program, Making It…with Lowe's, has proved a success in sparking big ideas from small businesses. The home improvement retailer has revealed its top three entrepreneurs and their products, which will be sold in store and online.
Hosted by Daymond John, star of ABC's "Shark Tank," Making It…with Lowe's was intended to help small businesses — especially those with minority owners — win a chance to get their products into the chain’s stores and onto its e-commerce site.
The top three Making It…with Lowe's entrepreneurs are:
Joe Porche, Multus Handle and Haul (Metairie, Louisiana): When a drunk driver struck Porche's vehicle, his life changed instantly. Before the crash, he was an avid DIYer. When the crash injured his back, neck and wrists, he used that challenge to create solutions for others. Porche developed Multus Handle and Haul to help people more easily and safely grab and move bulk items. His easy-to-use tie-down strap comes with an adjustable handle to help move awkward or heavy items. Handle and Haul earned Porche the designation of top product in Lowe’s competition, allowing Porche to receive a mentoring support package, a marketing support package, a business development package and a $50,000 Lowe's Small Business Grant.
Christina Woerner McInnis, SoilKit (Foley, Alabama): As a fifth-generation farmer who understands the importance and challenges of soil testing, McInnis wanted to bring its benefits to the everyday homeowner. SoilKit provides consumers with the tools to take a soil sample and receive expert lab reports to better understand how to keep their lawn and garden healthy. She received a marketing support package, a mentoring package and a $5,000 Lowe's Small Business Grant.
Taufeek Shah, Lola's Fine Hot Sauce (Des Moines, Iowa): Lola's is a minority-owned hot sauce company made in the United States that uses each of the world's hottest peppers for great flavor. Born from a generational family recipe from Shah’s mother, Lola's is an Asian-American-inspired hot sauce that brings consumers a gluten-free, vegan, 100% all-natural and non-GMO project-verified condiment for their grill stations. Shah received a marketing support package and a $5,000 Lowe's Small Business Grant.
"These entrepreneurs exceeded our highest expectations," said Bill Boltz, Lowe's EVP, merchandising. "With their creative solutions, business prowess and powerful stories, we identified some of the most innovative and valued home improvement products in the marketplace, which we're excited to offer our customers."
The Making It…with Lowe's program resulted in Lowe's evaluating more than 400 new products for sale on its website or on Lowe's store shelves.
"I trusted this program would unearth great products, but our whole team was thrilled by the level of innovation the Making It…with Lowe's participants brought us," said Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe's president and CEO. "Lowe's began nearly a century ago as a small-town hardware store, and we know small business is the backbone of our economy. These products reflect the diverse needs of our customers and the communities we serve, and our Making It…with Lowe's program attempts to give these diverse small- business owners a shot at the American Dream — and inspire others through their stories."
Based on the success of its first season, Lowe's Making It… with Lowe's will return for a second season this fall, encouraging diverse entrepreneurs nationwide to get their pitches ready. Additional details will be shared at a later date.
A digital catalog of products will continue to update, adding even more innovative products, throughout 2021 and beyond, as Lowe's has revealed plans for a second season of the program.
Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe's serves approximately 18 million customers a week in the United States and Canada. With fiscal year 2019 sales of $72.1 billion, Lowe's and its related businesses operate or service more than 2,200 home improvement and hardware stores, and employ approximately 300,000 associates.