Get to know the real Mark Bowe. He is the host of DIY Network’s Barnwood Builders and like most Americans, he does chores! He rakes leaves and picks up groceries for the family. In his spare time, he likes to be outside throwing knives and loving on his dogs. In high school, he could dunk a basketball and held the 4×100 state record in track and field. He loves pickles and SweeTARTS candy. He can sing most rap songs with a country twang. He is also anxiously awaiting the return of the fanny pack.
If you are not familiar with Barnwood Builders, this show follows Mark and his crew at Antique Cabins and Barn, as they recover and restore 19th century hand hewn log and timber frame structures. The show has aired for 3 seasons and the 4th season starts on Sunday, October 30th at 9pm, on the DIY Network. Mark and his crew consider themselves “6 good natured hillbillies who know a thing or two about wood.” Their designs celebrate the American pioneer spirit and pay tribute to the hard work and craftsmanship the United States was built on. The entire building process is featured on the show. Mark’s favorite part of Barnwood Builders is holding up a positive light on West Virginia and debunking the word Hillbilly.
Mark is a West Virginia native and resides with his family in Greenbrier County, WV. He grew up in Glasgow, which is a small blue-collar town along the Kanawha River. In 2010, Glasgow reported a population of only 905. While earning an undergraduate degree in Business Administration at West Virginia University (WVU), he worked as a coal miner. He has also worked as an HR director, Safety Director, and Insurance Agent. Most of all, he tells us that’s he’s always been an entrepreneur. When asked how he got into television, Mark keeps it simple, and says, “Long story made short. Work hard, be kind, take pride.”
On Thanksgiving, I go Vegetarian. I think it’s because I want as many vegetables as I can get on one plate… – Mark Bowe
His favorite project on the show to date was building cabins in the Canyon of the Ancients in southwest Colorado. He says it was more fun and included more discoveries than any project he has done in over 20 years. Mark says, “The projects are less about what we do and actually more about the experience we have with the owners and others that we meet along the way.” In Colorado, they found ancient artifacts thousands of years old and really got a history lesson on the western Native American culture.
When not filming on the show, Mark takes it easy and, thankfully, he has his son to help with chores around the house. He tells us, “After a week of filming I need to rest and thus make excuses for not doing chores. Even though I am on TV building really cool houses, this truly is a case of the cobblers kids not having shoes. The last thing I want to do is work on the plumbing, rake leaves, or clean gutters. Fortunately, I have a 13 year-old son that has inherited my work ethic and will help out around the house.”
Mark’s favorite past time is throwing knives and tomahawks in the yard. He also enjoys spending a lot of quality time with his family. They spend a great deal of time playing outside on rivers or in the “wild and wonderful” woods.
Mark’s wife, Cindy, has always been supportive of his career choices and he says the show is just a short part of their life together. The two were friends before they started dating. They travelled in the same social circles and they went to rival high schools, Dupont and East Bank. Mark says, “We knew each other by name only. It wasn’t until later that I worked the magic.” Now having an established family life, he goes onto say that it can be frustrating for them when people show up at their house or make weird comments on social media. Otherwise, he says the show hasn’t changed their life much… “with the exception of when we go to Lowes. I’m like a rockstar in there and it’s annoying if Cindy just wants to get trash bags and a rake,” says Mark.
He also watches sports when his son or someone he knows is playing. He supports any West Virginia team when they are playing but he holds a special connection to WVU games since he’s Alumni. He tells us that if he doesn’t have a connection to a local athlete or someone he knows, it doesn’t seem as exciting since it’s like watching strangers.
Mark loves living in Greenbrier County. He says, “There is a sense of connectedness that we all share living here in a small town.” He enjoys the slow pace and familiar faces and finds it comforting to see and know the people who fix his car and educate his kids, among other things.
Outside Barnwood Builders, Mark and his cast members are best friends. He tells us that this is what makes the show special and says, “We don’t fight, argue, have drama and the reason is that we genuinely like working together and hanging out after work”
Since the holidays are fast approaching, we asked Mark what his Thanksgiving plans are. He tells us he usually spends it on the road visiting extended family. Regarding the big feast, Mark says the weirdest thing happens to him on Thanksgiving, “I go Vegetarian. I think it’s because I want as many vegetables as I can get on one plate. After the meal, the rest of the day is spent on dessert.” Mark’s wife, Cindy, is a dessert master, and he tells us, “she won the West Virginia State Fair for several of her desserts and this is the day I get to have them all in one setting.” After the meal, Mark says he enjoys a nap while an old Western is on television.
We asked Mark, “If you can change anything about your life, what would it be?” This is his very real answer: “Quiet the voice in my head that’s says, ‘Come on, you can do better.’ I am by no means a perfectionist. However, I know when I am not reaching my potential to be a father, husband, friend, and business owner. It’s the big picture stuff that I’m always looking at improving. I think of a perfectionist as someone who has a clean garage and likes things a certain way. I don’t care what things look like, I just want to be as best I can at the things that matter the most. Who cares if my clothes are wrinkled or my truck is dirty with French fries between the seats.”
Regarding his son, Mark says the only thing he expects from him on a regular basis is hard work and kindness. He tells us, “The only extra curricular activity that matters to me is Boy Scouts. He needs to be an Eagle Scout and is on the path to achieving this goal. There are so many life skills and practical knowledge that comes from Scouts and Lewisburg has one of the most active troop in the country. He can safely use a knife, cook over an open fire, administer first aid, and is a good marksman. He can run equipment at my yard and use most hand tools.” Mark goes on to tell us that no matter what he becomes, his son will be equipped with common sense and a work ethic.
Season 4 of Barnwood Builders is fast approaching and Marks says the guys are having more fun on camera, so expect even more laughs this season. “Now that we know the producers aren’t going to make us look like idiots we can relax and be ourselves more. We are also trying new types of builds, which should keep the show interesting as well as entertaining.”
A very real and relatable guy, we appreciate Mark Bowe for taking the time to do this interview with us and we look forward to the new season of Barnwood Builders!
– HashtagWV #83, November 2016.