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Alumni News

Big Risk,

Sweet Rewards John Lowe ’98 left GC post within General Electric to lead Jeni’s enterprise BY MONICA DEMEGLIO

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n the office of John Lowe ’98, a stack of framed artwork is carefully bound in bubble wrap and leaning against a chalkboard wall filled with whimsical doodles of flowers and vines. The former is indicative of the fact that Lowe, CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, has found little time to unpack and redecorate since recently shifting offices within the company’s Grandview, Ohio headquarters. The doodles are remnants of the creative genius who used to inhabit the space: Jeni Britton Bauer. “Jeni and I are so different that it’s difficult to overstate,” said Lowe, sitting in the office that bears Britton Bauer’s creative spirit and tchotchkes of Lowe’s suit-and-tie past. “Jeni and I are the perfect yin and yang. There is almost nothing she does that overlaps with what I do, and vice versa.” Lowe’s energies since 2009 have focused on building upon the foundation Britton Bauer and her husband, Charly Bauer, created since opening a stall in The North Market in Columbus in 2002. In his first three years, the company has morphed into a brand recognized by shoppers in tony grocery stores on both coasts, by children slurping up scoops of Wildberry Lavender at one of its shops in Tennessee, and, perhaps most exciting to Lowe, at a retailer in Dubai. “We had to spend time getting the company’s finances in order and building a team that was capable of significant growth,” said Lowe. “During my first year, we got our feet wet trying to build the wholesale business.” The privately owned company that boasted $2.1 million in sales in 2008 is projected to hit $13 million this year – a growth rate increase of more than 500 percent. Retail stores have increased from four to 10, including a 2011 expansion to East Nashville, Tenn. Thanks to the wholesale business, which was

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T H E O H I O S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y

Lowe’s highest priority upon joining the company, pints of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams grace the shelves in 672 grocery stores across the lower-48 today. “We are still tiny,” said Lowe. “There is a lot we could be doing better. But yes, we are having success. People are responding to Jeni and the ice creams.” Accolades for the company’s ice cream have rolled in from Food & Wine, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Bon Appetit, the Food Network, and countless foodie bloggers. The company’s Lemon Frozen Yogurt was named recently named “Best Dessert” by the Specialty Food Retailers Association, and Britton Bauer received the James Beard Foundation Award for her New York Times bestseller, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Among the pages of glowing product reviews the sales team keeps at their fingertips are links to the General Mills’ “The Munchies,” a people’s choice awards competition in which Jeni’s was named Best Ice Cream in America, a video Google made about Jeni’s as America’s Best Ice Cream, and a TIME article with a headline that dares to wonder: “Can the Best Ice Cream in America Be the Biggest?” It may just yet. “Jeni and I are incredibly different people, but we share one overriding characteristic: We are both ferociously competitive,” Lowe said. Lowe was a young attorney at Kegler, Brown, Hill, & Ritter who was trying to pay off his law school loans from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law when he met Charly Bauer by chance at a Columbus pub one night. The two became close friends, with Bauer eventually storing his version of an engagement ring – an Italian tabletop ice-cream-maker – at Lowe’s apartment in the Short North. The couple later used the piece to make ice cream for Lowe’s rehearsal dinner the night before he >>

All Rise Winter 2013  

All Rise Winter 2013 - The Creepy Factor

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