“Firefighters, Family, and Community”

November 21, 2023 | Steve Schwartz, CEO

Firefighters, Family, and Community Gratitude


2023 marked LION’s 125th anniversary, and I’ve spent much of the past year looking back at our shared history. Remembering who we were, who we are, and why we do what we do. 

All these reminders instilled a deep sense of gratitude in me, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to share some of the things I’m thankful for with you. 


These courageous men and women give so much of themselves to keep their communities, towns, and cities safe, putting themselves in harm’s way. It doesn’t matter if the sun is high or the night is dark, if there’s snow on the roads or clouds on the horizon, if the family is sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner or just waking up on Christmas morning, when the phone rings or the alarm goes off, firefighters respond. They leave their families behind, throw on their gear, and jump into action. 

This holiday season, I’m grateful to lead a company that provides these heroes with the equipment, tools, and training they need to protect themselves — so they can protect us. 


My family started LION in 1898, when my great-grandfather William Lapedes began selling dry goods to farmers out of a covered wagon, and — four generations later — we’re still here, in Dayton, Ohio. 

As a family-owned business, we’re able to offer a deeply personal experience for our customers, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. My great-grandfather’s life embodied the spirit we live by to this day — treat your customers like family. Because at LION, they are. 

I’m also grateful to work alongside thousands of dedicated LION employees, many of whom I had the pleasure to meet this year as I traveled to our offices and facilities throughout the country. Talking to the exceptional men and women who form the bedrock of this company was a highlight of 2023 for me, and I couldn’t be prouder to work alongside them. 


Just as first responders give back to their communities in so many ways, we follow their example through our charitable giving and partnerships, and I’m thankful for the chance to pay it forward. 

Words are not enough though. Action is what counts, and every year, LION is proud to donate to fire service charities across America. We also financially support local Ohio communities and institutions — such as the Hillel Academy of Dayton and United Rehabilitation Services — through annual donations to the Greater Cincinnati Fund.

Finally, it’s our great honor to partner with incredible non-profits like the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. This incredible and much-needed organization supports the families of firefighters who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

It’s been 125 years of LION, and though we may not be selling dry goods anymore, the heart of our mission remains the same: 

First responders. 



I’m grateful for all of them, and I’m grateful to you — for taking the time to read this quick note. Happy Thanksgiving!


– Steve Schwartz, CEO 

Steve Schwartz, CEO

Written by Steve Schwartz, CEO

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