Leadership Spotlight: Matt Lowe, Champion Brands

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Matthew Lowe is the Executive Vice-President and General Counsel for Champion Brands, LLC and is actively involved in the sales and management of the company.  Matt, in his fifth year with the company, is the third-generation family member to be involved in the business where he works alongside his father, David Lowe.  Lowe’s grandfather, Ralph Lowe, founded the company in 1956.  Prior to joining Champion, Lowe spent 11 years as a trial lawyer representing clients throughout Missouri.

Champion Brands, LLC, originally Lowe Oil Co., is a globally recognized industry leader in specialty lubricants. Champion also manufactures and blends more than 300 products including fuel, brake fluid, oil and engine additives and lubricants for the automotive, heavy truck, agricultural and specialty markets. In addition to marketing the Champion product offering, the company has a number of private-label customers for brake fluid, engine oils, agricultural products, and automotive chemicals.

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Champion Adds Five New Types of Brake Fluid

What is your current role and area of responsibility?

I try to take a somewhat active role in most areas of the business.  I feel like it is important to have at least a general understanding of each segment of the company.  I also direct a considerable amount of my attention to sales.  Maintaining current customer relationships and developing new customers are equally important.  One cannot spend too much time on either. I also deal with the day to day aspects of the business.  It is difficult to overstate the amount of time those tasks take each and every day. 

How would you describe your work/leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?

The jury is probably still out on whether or not my leadership style works.  I have been in this role for about five years and I came to Champion from an entirely different area of work.  With that being said, I try to be approachable, but I expect a good deal of effort from those that I work with.  I will live or die by the level of accountability that exists within this organization. 

What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?

My biggest challenge is trying to predict what we are going to be doing in six months, one year, or five years.  It takes time and resources to plan for the future.  We have to constantly work on improvements to our core business, but we also have to be flexible in order to evolve with the automotive marketplace.  As everyone knows, there is considerable change on the horizon and our future depends on our ability to adapt to those changes.

What do you look for when evaluating top talent?

Consistency.  If you have never been able to hold down a job for any length of time, you are not likely to be here long either.  It is the first thing I look at when reviewing a resume or application and candidly, I feel like it is the most important trait for a prospective co-worker. 

What can you tell us about your company and the markets you serve?

My grandfather (Ralph Lowe) started Champion, then Lowe Oil Company, in the basement of his home more than 60 years ago.  We have been steadily increasing our Champion brand ever since.  We blend and package nearly every automotive chemical and lubricant available in the marketplace.  We also have a blow molding operation with several machines that make a significant amount of the bottles that we use internally.  Over the years, we have developed somewhat of a niche by blending and packaging products that most companies do not want to mess with.  For example, we have been blending and packaging brake fluid for more than a decade.  There are not many companies in North America that actually blend their own fluid, and there are even less that blend and package.  My Father (David Lowe) has been a proponent of vertical integration for many years now and it has paid dividends.

What are the major challenge(s) facing your organization now, in the near term and the long term?

Near terms challenges include navigating the supply chain with some degree of consistency and maintaining a solid workforce for our manufacturing operation.  I think everyone knows what the long-term challenges are for this industry.  Adaptation and evolution are not just inherent, they are imperative.

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