Businesses of the Skook #2:
Bowers Home Improvement, Mahanoy City – Jeff Bowers
“I took over my father’s business, he started it in 1990, then I came out to work with him after high school in 1996. I originally wanted to work on quads and small engine repair, and I just wanted the summer off before starting school back up again. My Dad was like have fun but you’re going to work for me for the summer as the clean up guy, and here I am. I started out at the bottom, ran for the material, etc. I found out I hated that, and the only way to get out of it is to learn how to start installing stuff. 5-10 years later I loved it, loved my job, loved getting out of bed and crushing the day. We started out small, mostly sub-contracting, working all the way from the Pocono’s to Reading, to Bloomsburg. We were not close to home, and we were doing work for other big companies. We got paid peanuts at the time, but made a living and managed to survive, and the hurdle was starting out at the bottom and working up. Here we are 32 years later, and we have the market cornered for contractors in this area. We built a name, and a brand since I got sober, we built everything up together. My dad was great at getting us jobs, and I was good at getting us out there.
In 2018, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I would be driving going out on estimates holding back tears because I was so upset. When I was trying to get sober, he came to my house and took care of me. It was now my turn to stay with him and take care of him. He passed away this past year. You would have never known he was sick, after he went on hospice, he started living his best life traveling. I was worried about not handling the death well, I went home the day he passed away to write his obituary. That’s when I realized what an honor it was to be able to do that, and I took it as an opportunity to let it boost me up. I have big shoes to fill and a legacy to carry on now. I can’t feel sorry for myself. Proud is an understatement of what my Dad saw in me, and I have to carry that on.
I now coach high school baseball; I dedicate my time to kids. I love it, I found something that I never knew I was looking for, a piece of serenity on the baseball field. I can have a bad day, and I found out whenever I am coaching its gone. I’ve also met a girl; she is one of my biggest cheerleaders. We are both really involved in our community’s now, we both are in the chamber of commerce, I donate my time as much as possible.
None of that success in my business, baseball or community would be possible if I did not get sober and remain sober. My addiction started early; it was a progression from high school – from alcohol to more intense drugs. It gave me motivation and kept me up, I could just work, it was a crazy cycle. I was able to successfully use drugs in the beginning, it was working. About 5 years later, after a crazy 90 day run of doing drugs daily (taking a day off to sleep here and there), and then I couldn’t get any. I couldn’t function, and then I realized I was hooked. I always thought, this wasn’t going to happen to me. I watched my sister go through the same thing, and I said to myself I’ll never act like her or do the things she did. Towards the end of my addiction, I started acting like my sister and I just came to the realization I had to stop. My addiction lasted off and on for 15 years prior to that. I did a good job for a lot of years managing my addiction but as the years went on, more of my paychecks were devoted to drug use. My sobriety date is October 3rd, 2014. That day I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I asked my dad for help; he was my best friend and my business partner. I knew he could help me; I didn’t know how but I knew he could. He came to stay with me and didn’t leave my side. He regularly went to AA meetings, and one day I surprised him and showed up and I have been going since. A lot of my friends never got sober, and now they’re gone.
Life is too short to spend time doing the wrong things. You will miss out on opportunities and relationships you didn’t know where there. Work hard, have integrity and be appreciative of all life has to offer.
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Photos by Jocelyn Blum, Danie Mae Photography