The Plough Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee, has announced its decision to spend down its assets over the next four years and permanently close its doors.
The foundation was established in 1960 by Abe Plough, who, after working at a local drugstore without pay as a boy so he could learn the business, founded the Plough Chemical Company in 1908 — at the age of 16 — with the help of a $125 loan from his father. After expanding from healing oils into the patent drug business and cosmetics field, Plough helped build Plough, Inc. into a half-a-billion-dollar business by the early 1960s, along the way acquiring such well-known consumer brands as St. Joseph's Aspirin, Maybelline Cosmetics, and Coppertone skin care products. After his retirement in 1976, Plough devoted himself to the foundation, whose stated goal is to do the greatest good for the greater number of people. Plough passed away in 1984.
Since its establishment, the foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $300 million in support of civic improvements in Memphis and Shelby County, Jewish organizations, and nonprofits working in the areas of aging, the arts, conservation, public education, and health and social services. Plough, Inc. merged in 1971 with German pharmaceutical firm Schering, and in 2009 Schering-Plough merged with Merck & Co.
In a letter signed by board chair Diane Rudner and trustees Patricia Rudner Burnham and DD Rudner Eisenberg, the foundation said it would release information about its future plans by the spring of 2020.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that while Plough Foundation executive director Rick Masson declined to discuss specifics of the decision, the family felt it was the right time. "They are really proud of what the foundation has accomplished since 1960," said Masson.
(Photo credit: Plough Foundation)