Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s

Lowe's people to watch 2021

The August 17 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 15th annual “People To Watch” in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, “People To Watch” represents a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld “People To Watch” are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s, President and CEO

CREDENTIALS: Marvin Ellison took the president and CEO role at Lowe’s two years ago and, at the same time, joined the company’s board of directors. He moved to Lowe’s from J.C. Penney, where he served as president and chairman of the board. Ellison has more than 30 years of retail experience, much of it with Home Depot and Target.

WHAT TO WATCH: Ellison has applied a broad retail experience to Lowe’s. In the COVID-19 pandemic, the company boosted its marketing with an emphasis on community and worker-related messaging versus brand, and to some effect, driving store traffic higher at a faster pace than even Home Depot recently. The company also has been focused on boosting small business, which has been hard hit during the crisis, including minority owned and rural small businesses. In a conference call, Ellison pointed out that, for this year, Lowe’s has pivoted in its direction, updated objectives and created a cross-functional COVID-19 task force, in effect, reshuffling priorities to fulfill its community obligations as an essential retailer operating in the pandemic. In terms of the racial turmoil that has arisen alongside the coronavirus crisis, he has expressed a don’t talk but do position that’s backed up by Lowe’s hiring African-American executives. As such, he has placed Lowe’s in a position to be flexible, which could come with some benefit in navigating the company through the shifting sands of a marketplace dealing with the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PERSPECTIVE: Lowe’s has had a reputation of looking at the do-it-yourself customer more broadly than is typical in its retail channel. Whether it is the female customer, or the more casual DIYer, the company, while not neglecting the pro clientele, has looked for ways to make its store experience friendlier without compromising effectiveness. Ellison has taken that a step further, looking at the business in light of opportunities to embrace the full range of talent available in the retail sector while reinforcing the company’s ability to serve the community, in part through his emphasis on omnichannel operations, but also as a neighborhood resource that reflects the full range of American demographics, whether it’s in an ethnically diverse urban or deeply rural landscape. —Mike Duff

2021 HomeWorld Business People To Watch (click on name for profile):

Janet Hayes, Crate & Barrel Holdings

Derek Miller, International Housewares Association

Samantha Rose, GIR (Get It Right)

Jay Zilinskas, Legacy Companies

Ed Vlacich, Lasko Holdings

Ben Gadbois, Corelle Brands

Joana McKenna, Walker Edison

Andreas Hansen, Plum

Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s

Chris McDonough, Corkcicle

Mark Tritton, Bed Bath & Beyond

Mike Evans, Bestar-Bush

Greg Cairo, Le Creuset of America

Pamela Stafford, Hestan Culinary

Bob Maricich, International Market Centers

Mark Rosenzweig and Mark Barrocas, SharkNinja