John Lowe is the CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The native of Chicago’s far south side, Lowe has had a varied life full of culture, academic pursuits, and professional development. He earned a degree in political science from University of Illinois in 1995. He then earned a law degree from The Ohio State University in 1998, going on to serve as an attorney at the prestigious firm of Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter for nine years.
While at Kegler, he helped to incorporate Jeni’s Ice Creams on behalf of founder Jeni Britton Bauer and her husband Charly. He’d later serve as labor and employment counsel to General Electric’s aviation, transportation, and water businesses. This is where things get a bit shifty. Lowe was then tapped to be General Counsel for a small company within GE, somehow leapfrogging hundreds of more experienced and longer-serving GE lawyers. Then during the tumult of the financial crisis, Lowe’s career really took off.
After six years, Lowe left General Electric to join Jeni’s when it was still in its infancy. Then just four scoop shops with no third-party distribution, Jeni’s now lords over close to forty scoop shops and a distribution in over 3,000 grocery stores. Their DTC processes are unlike any other. Each shipment stays chilled with the help of carefully packed dry ice and an unboxing experience that’s second to none. He’s been the CEO for ten years, now. He also serves as a board member with Watershed Distillery, White Castle and the Columbus chapter of Conscious Capitalism International. An avid writer, lover of basketball, father of three, and husband to a titan in her own right.
Lowe has a special partnership with the founder and face of the company. One of the special moments of the podcast is when he explains how they work together and which public figures are most analogous to their proverbial one-two punch. But all in all, it’s his candor that comes across.
There is an honesty, a truth, and a vulnerability that comes across in this 56 minute discussion. In it, I feel like a student asking the teacher for the way forward. And in a digital-first industry filled with strategists and talkers, Lowe is an operator in the truest sense of the term. How and what he’s had to navigate to take the company from a lifestyle business to a private equity-backed growth company is worth your time.
Jeni’s is a household name. Jeni is a larger than life creative mind and force of nature. John is as much an ingredient in the success as the brand’s salty caramel. I’m proud to call him a friend and mentor, inside and outside of the workspace. You’ll be able to hear the admiration in my voice.
Ep. 001: John Lowe
The Ringer: Love is not a battlefield and neither is Jeni’s