“I wanted to leave school, so my parents said to me I can only leave if I get an apprenticeship. So, I went door knocking and became a plasterer. My boss made me do carpentry at night school too, so by the time I was seventeen I had two trades and was fully qualified,” he says with a sense of nonchalance and comfort from a man with plenty of experience and a thousand stories to tell.
Stewart’s story is rich with business and life experience. For example, after gaining his qualifications he started his own company with two partners, eventually employing 200 staff with jobs to match. Extenuating circumstances out of his control, forced the closure of the business, but not one to lie down, he went back to school. While building the Ararat Prison, Bowman completed his degree in building and construction management and promptly took a position as a Construction Manager for Intact Projects.
“I really loved doing fit-outs, but that business closed in 2020, so I took off overseas for four months,” to think about the future and what the next chapter might be.
“I loved what McCormack was doing and I sent my C.V. in while I was away. I met with Greg [McCormack] at 6 am the morning I returned. Before I was back in my car, he told me to not to stress about looking for work, you can start tomorrow. Here I am three years later!”
It’s a great story and testament to Bowman’s record and experience. Bringing a no-nonsense approach to the work site, he preaches his own gospel of ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ and ‘a clean site is a happy site’, things that can sound tired or cliched until you’re on site and you realise that the reason things are running so smoothly is because you’ve got someone like Bowman at the helm.
“I take safety pretty, pretty seriously,” Bowmans says with emphasis, “everyone has a family or is part of a family and they need to go home safe. So, we’re always on safety walks or at toolbox meetings. And you need to own what you do – treat it as your own money and own job,” he says. “Quality is key. Treat everyone with respect and we’ll do our best work.”
“When I’m not here I’m a family man with sport on every night. Soccer and basketball for my kids and I play and coach futsal.” Bowman coaches teams in all age groups, from eight to seventeen, plus open age groups. And while spinning that plate, he’ll add another and organise competitions and sponsors for the teams and organisation. He is, without a doubt, a busy man, but this is his free time, and something he is as committed to as he is his work.
“Sport—that’s for clearing my head. I believe in working hard during the day,” he says before finishing with another apt Bowman adage, “work is work. Family time is family time.”
“I left school in Year 7 and was told I would never be anything. Well, I think I have proved them wrong, “he says with pride and a hint of happy defiance.
“Never worry about the delay of your success compared to others, because construction of a palace will take more time than an ordinary building.”