John Cunningham is a loss prevention and safety manager at Lowe’s in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He also just performed live at Lowe’s National Sales Meeting for more than 3,000 Lowe’s employees. How do music and Lowe’s intersect? For Cunningham, it started with writing a song about Lowe’s purpose – to help people love where they live.
Back in 2014 when Cunningham was promoted to loss prevention and safety manager, his store manager had heard that he had a music background. He asked Cunningham to help write a song about Lowe’s purpose for a store contest. He did just that, and the song was titled “Love Where I Live.” Fast forward to December 2016, Cunningham and co-worker Ryane Sullard submitted a remix of the song to a Lowe’s employee talent contest and they were selected to perform at the National Sales Meeting.
They were a smash on stage, where Cunningham added another performance to his long list. How long is his list? Pretty long. Cunningham has always had a passion for music, and it led him down a glamorous path at a young age as a recording artist. He made the Billboard Top 20, did interviews with top R&B radio stations and performed across the country. He said the journey was exciting, but it wasn’t the future he had in mind for himself and his son, Jaylen.
In 2014, Lowe’s hired Cunningham as a seasonal assembler. He recalled putting as many grills together as he could in a day, sometimes up to 10 – anything to get noticed and help him on his journey to build a stable life for his son. When he wasn’t working, Cunningham was taking college courses online and soon graduated with a criminal justice degree. When the opportunity came to join the loss prevention and safety team, he jumped at it.
Still performing on occasion in those early days, he quickly learned that he could use his songwriting and performing skills to help keep customers and employees safe. “I started by just recording our safety events, and the reactions to those videos from my co-workers was really positive, so then I started creating more instructional videos that incorporated messages about how to be safe,” he said. “My goal is for my teammates to be knowledgeable and understand how to keep themselves and our customers out of harm’s way.”
“I use my videos to connect with my co-workers on a personal level and talk about real situations,” he said. “Even when we work safe, there is still always concerns.”
Performing at the National Sales Meeting combined the best of both worlds for Cunningham – Lowe’s and his music. His favorite moment?
“I went backstage after performing and Jimmie Johnson told me I was the one with talent,” he said. “What a great guy. He’s won seven championships! And then I saw (senior vice president of services) Kevin Measel and he had the hugest smile on his face and he gave me a big hug. It was like hugging my best friend at that moment.”
It’s that passion that connects his music and his work. The passion he brought to the stage at the National Sales Meeting is the same passion he brings to his job helping customers shop safely every day at Lowe’s of Fredericksburg.
“Helping people love where they live is more than a phrase or a song, it is what we do every day and I love it,” Cunningham said.