New season of Barnwood Builders debuts Feb 23

Mark Bowe discusses the move to Magnolia Network, why he loves going to Lowe’s, and what he thinks every time he comes home to West Virginia.  

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Barnwood Builders will debut season 15 of the hit show this Thursday at 9pm on the Magnolia Network. According to star Mark Bowe, fans can expect, “The same guys but more gray hair and gravity!”

Bowe and his band of skilled craftsmen reclaim and restore barns and cabins from the pioneer days and incorporate them into modern living. “We take something old, and do something new,” Bowe explains. 

Fans will see Mark and the crew staying a bit closer to home in West Virginia in the upcoming season. They are beginning work on vacation rental cabins in downtown White Sulphur Springs. 

In addition, they are working to reclaim factory timbers for the first time. “There’s beautiful timber to be reclaimed in factories, and we will spend some time in new places doing that this season.” 

Magnolia Network

Bowe made the leap from the DIY Network to The Magnolia Network a few years ago. Magnolia is owned by another family in the construction business–Chip and Joanna Gaines. Bowe says the transition could not have gone more smoothly. 

“Magnolia really embraced us.” Bowe says the difference is that his bosses know exactly what he’s facing. “Chip and Joanna have a business, family, and TV show. They understand. They’ve offered us every resource available to succeed. They truly value family.” 

Asked if he would hire Chip Gaines for his crew, Bowe said, “No, I’d hire Jo. Bark Bowe & Jo. That has a nice ring to it!” 

From Coal Mines to TV

Mark Bowe grew up in Glasgow, a small town in eastern Kanawha County, West Virginia. “I couldn’t see past the railroad tracks, the river, and the hillside. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew I wanted to do something that was honorable.”

Mark remembers his college business professor asking him what we wanted to do with his life?

“I told him I wanted to make money,” Bowe remembers. “He said, ‘You want to be an entrepreneur?’ I didn’t know what that meant and thought he was insulting me. I looked up the word and figured out that’s exactly what I wanted to do–build businesses and help people grow.”

Like many young men locally, Bowe first turned to the coal mines for work. That’s how he paid to get through college. And when he graduated, he returned to work there. “It’s all I knew,” he says. “Then one weekend a guy asked me to help him take down a barn. It was wormy chestnut. I made $1,700 and decided I needed to keep doing it.” 

‘Community is everything’

When Bowe isn’t traveling the country filming episodes or working with clients, you’ll find him at community events or the local hardware store. 

“Community is everything,” he says without a second thought when asked why he spends so much time doing community projects like judging venison contests and speaking to young people. “When the flood happened, it didn’t matter who you were or where you were from. All that mattered was taking care of one another.” 

When a 1,000 year flood struck southern West Virginia in June 2016, Mark and his wife Cindy immediately took on leadership roles in recovery. He says he learned that mentality of community working in coal mines. 

“You’ve got 12 guys going down underground together,” Bowe explains. “Some went to rival schools and some believed in a different faith than you, but none of that mattered. You look out for everybody. That’s who we are. It’s really important that we give back.”

Embracing ‘celebrity’ status

Locals often see Bowe in Lowe’s or the local hardware store, where they flock to him like a rock star. “Going to Lowe’s is my feel-good time,” he says with a hearty laugh. “If I get down in the dumps, I just go to Lowes and somebody will make me feel better.”

While he hasn’t necessarily gotten used to his “celebrity,” he embraces it. 

“Once I was walking down a street in Boston,” Bowe says. “A guy was eating inside a restaurant. He stood up and started banging on the window at me. I went inside, ate his french fries, and left! Didn’t say a word! I have fun with it. I’ve been an over the top goofball my whole life.” 

West Virginia’s Ambassador

Mark spends a significant amount of time on the road, traveling to film the show and assist clients. He says the pride West Virginians have about where they are from is unique, and he feels it each time he crosses the West Virginia state line. 

“When I cross that state line,” he says, “I feel like everything is going to be OK. Somebody is going to pick me up or help me out if I break down. No matter what part of the state, it’s home.”

Bowe says he loves his work, but his biggest job is the platform he’s been given to represent his family and his state. “Work hard, be kind, take pride,” is what he preaches. “If we do all that, it will work out.”  

The new season of Barnwood Builders premiers on Thursday, February 23, at 9pm on The Magnolia Network. Check with your TV provider for details.


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