Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison rallies the industry

The ‘Spirit of Life' honoree promotes the mission of City of Hope.
a person wearing a blue jacket
Marvin Ellison celebrated the Spirit of Life at a Jan. 30 gala in Las Vegas.

City of Hope bestowed on Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison the 2023 Spirit of Life Award. As a result, Ellison takes on the chief fundraising role for the National Hardware/Homebuilding industry. In a span of four decades, the group has raised some $170 million for the research and treatment center.

Honored to promote the worldwide impact that City of Hope has had fighting diseases like cancer, Ellison said he’s also eager to celebrate the historic contributions of the hardware and homebuilding community, and also “rally our industry to do more.”

HBSDealer: Lowe’s is involved in many charitable activities. What stands out in your mind over the years?
Marvin Ellison: “I’m very proud to lead a company where service is one of our central values and a key element of our culture. Our priority throughout the pandemic, along with caring for our associates and creating a safe environment for our customers, was ensuring our communities were fully supported. We committed over $150 million to help our communities navigate through the challenges of the pandemic, including grants to provide financial relief to rural, minority-owned and women-owned small businesses. In 2021, we celebrated our centennial by completing community improvement projects in 100 hometowns all across the country. And last year we scaled that by launching a five-year, $100 million commitment to improve more hometowns. I’m incredibly proud to see the impact that the program and Lowe’s associates continue to make as we now start the second year of Lowe’s Hometowns.”

“I recognize the responsibility and appreciate the opportunity to rally continued support, especially at a time when many need their services more than ever.”
Marvin Ellison

HBSDealer: What can you share about the conversation you had when invited to accept the Spirt of Life Award?
Ellison: “It’s a blessing and an honor to be recognized as this year’s recipient. Many people who know me know that my Christian faith is the foundation of who I am. I am not a person who likes the limelight, but I am humbled to be asked to be the honoree for the 40th year of our industry’s involvement with City of Hope. I recognize the responsibility and appreciate the opportunity to rally continued support, especially at a time when many need their services more than ever. As the Spirit of Life Award recipient, I am looking forward to leading this year’s fundraising efforts that will contribute to an outstanding cause. The work City of Hope does is driven by compassionate care and service, and gives patients and families the support they really need to tap into their inner resilience and embrace a sense of optimism and hope.”

HBSDealer: When you look at the names of industry leaders who received the Spirit of Life Award, what thoughts do you have?
Ellison: “It’s a privilege to be added to the ranks of the former honorees, including Joe McFarland and Bill Boltz, members of my executive leadership team. I’m proud of the support they have provided and proud to say that Lowe’s has a long history with City of Hope. In fact, the former chairman of our board, Robert Strickland, and Lowe’s former CEO Leonard Herring were the very first Spirit of Life recipients in 1983. Over 40 years, it’s incredibly gratifying to see so many Hardware and Homebuilding leaders join together in support of this worthy organization. I’m grateful to have the chance continue in that legacy.”

City of Hope is dedicated to research and treatment of deadly diseases.

HBSDealer: To what extent would you agree with the idea that giving back to charities or communities is not only good for society, but it’s good for business?
Ellison: “Every day that I am blessed to be the chairman and CEO of Lowe’s, I have three things I’m trying to accomplish. First, I am trying to give the 300,000 current and future associates a great place to work. Number two, I am striving to create a great place to shop for our customers. And number three, I want to invest to make the communities where our associates live and work better. If I can accomplish these three things as a chairman and CEO, we will create sustainable shareholder value.”

HBSDealer: It’s not an exaggeration to say that cancer touches all of us or has touched all of us in some way. What are your thoughts about the mission of City of Hope.
Ellison: “Each of us has our own story and our own experience with the life-threatening diseases that City of Hope helps to combat. My wife lost her sister and I lost my mother to cancer.  It’s hard to put into words how these two devastating losses impacted our families. So, if there is anything I can do to support the City of Hope to accomplish their mission of transforming the future of cancer care, I am 100% committed to help.”

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