Young Professional Profiles

John Lowe

Photo by Ryan M.L. Young

Age: 40

Occupation: CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Education: bachelor’s degree in political science, University of Illinois; Juris Doctor from Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law

Hometown: South Side of Chicago

Neighborhood: Upper Arlington

Personal: married with three boys ages 8, 5 and 2

 

When and why did you move to Columbus?

August of 1995. I had never been to Columbus. I had no intention of staying. I was here because Moritz offered me a good deal to come. [After graduation, Lowe got a job practicing labor and employment law at Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter.]

I met Charly Bauer and Jeni Britton Bauer back when I was a first-year lawyer. They became very good friends of mine. When they decided to get Jeni back into the ice cream business, I helped them set up the company in return for a pint of ice cream [Salty Caramel] and a beer.

 

What do you value about your work?

One whole wall of my office is chalkboard paint, and it says, ‘Can you imagine doing anything else?’ The point of that is I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world. I get to come to work every day with friends, and my job is to build a team around the Michael Jordan of ice cream.

The opportunity to grow a great little business that helps the community, that shows people that you can run a business the right way, is really exciting, really fun. The hopes I had when I gave up my prior career to join Jeni’s have all come true.

We’re having success. We’re on the shelves of something like 750 locations across the country. The ice cream’s carried in Dubai, Kuwait. We’ve increased from four to 11 stores, and we’ve got plans for more. We’re getting to take on big challenges with an energized, focused group of very dedicated employees.

 

How did founding in Columbus contribute to Jeni’s success?

Columbus has been incredibly supportive of Jeni from the very earliest days through today. … When I first met Jeni, every place we went, people would come up to her and say, ‘You’ve got to get back into the ice cream business, you’ve got to give it another shot.’ Scream had not worked out for a number of reasons, but she had developed a cult following, and those people were very supportive of her.

In numerous ways, Columbus has been supportive ever since.

 

Would you have stayed in Columbus had it not been for Jeni’s?

When I decided to leave GE [as general counsel for various divisions] it was a major, major life change. I was trading in pay and Fortune 500 corporate success for the opportunity to do something unique with my friends in growing Jeni’s. [For] the opportunity to have a quality of life where I could be a husband and a father in a way that I was unable to in my prior roles.

 

What are some things you enjoy about living in Columbus?       

We’ve lived in a number of cities. We consider ourselves extremely lucky to get to live in Columbus. We are only seven minutes away from the Short North. We get to take advantage of the great diversity, creativity and small business culture that has developed in Columbus. We can get to Crew games, Clippers games, and I think our very favorite thing is to attend OSU basketball games. We’re very fortunate to have such easy access to [that] sort of world-class entertainment.