Business of Love
A successful marriage is a partnership. A successful business, in which the partners are also married ... a virtual miracle of love that has no choice but to strike a unique balance to see it through not just the day-by-day, but the hour-by-hour. Several lake area businesses exemplify that balance, through husband and wife teams who all seem to agree on the main ingredient of that dual success: laughter.
To warm all our hearts in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, The Beacon will feature just a few of those local romantic/ entrepreneurial teams…
MILLERSPORT - Jim and Rosie Bower are all about heart ... as well as roasts, hocks, chops, ribs, cutlets and links.
The local couple has laughed and loved together for 45 years, and worked side by side every day for the past 15 to make Bower & Sons Meats & Sausages in Millersport a success.
"I couldn't have found anyone else who would have stuck by me the way Rosie has," Jim said of his wife. "It really has been sickness and health, rich and poor. We've done it all."
Doing it all encompasses not just the ups and downs of raising children, traveling, staying married and starting up a business, but also Jim's battle with cancer and a subsequent heart attack. After so many years of hard - and what Rosie Bower describes as "very physical" - work, the couple has finally permitted themselves to "cut back" from 12 to eight hour days. Through it all, Jim goes out of his way to make his wife, and everyone he works with, smile.
"If you can't laugh while you're at work, then it's just stress and boredom," Jim points out. "Even when things aren't going so good, you have to laugh."
The Bowers' story began when they met in August 1964. Jim, who was originally from Sugar Grove, was working in sales and driving for United Provision of Meat Company in Columbus when he walked out of work one day to spot a co-worker's girlfriend waiting to pick him up.
"I asked Wally if that was his girlfriend or sister, and when he said 'girlfriend,' I asked him if the girl had any sisters he could set me up with. That's who Rosie was. Her sister," Jim says with a grin. The couple was married just a few months later.
Jim became a meat cutter for the U.S. Air Force in 1966. When he returned from the service, he was eager to learn the ins and outs of the meat cutting plant. He then ran his own small meat business for five years before becoming plant manager at a series of large meat plants. He eventually bought a plant in Grandview, moved it to another location on U.S. 40 and finally brought it even closer to the couples' home, to Millersport, in August 2004.
Rosie had already been on board for a decade by then.
"My dad has so much meat experience from all his life, but at home they'd always been there for each other," said Jim Bower Jr., one of the "sons" at Bower & Sons, of his parents. "For her to come in here, it was as natural as putting on a glove. I have to think when you've gotten through the obstacles of marriage together, the obstacles of business don't seem like such a big thing."
Jim and Rosie have three sons: Jim Jr. and David, who work in the family business, and Bill, who worked with them for 13 years but moved into the closely related field of refrigeration. David's wife, Lori, works in the office, and granddaughters Rosie, Liz and, sometimes, Danielle work there, too. In addition to kin, there are seven other part- and full-time employees.
"It's definitely a family atmosphere," Jim says. "Even the employees are like family."
Bower & Sons has been doing plenty of deer processing in recent months, but the business also offers custom processing for beef and hogs, seasonal items like smoked hams and fresh turkeys, and does retail meat sales in the front of their building at 2560 Terrace Street, a block behind Millersport Hardware. Mostly, they wholesale to restaurants, frozen food companies and other distributors.
"This community has been so supportive," Jim notes. The Bowers have lived in the area for 30 years.
Rosie and Jim both say they like being able to "depend completely" on their business partners (both one another and their sons), but there are plenty of challenges when it comes to finding a balance between home and work. "This is one box," Rosie said, gesturing to the office environment. "Home is another box. When you have your own business, it's hard to get away, but that's something you have to do. Both physically and mentally."
The couple jokes that they get along so well because Jim is bossy and Rosie "mostly" puts up with it.
"Really, the nice thing is that we know exactly what one another are going through," Rosie said. "We've been through rough patches, but we've been through them together. So we know."
For more information about Bower & Sons, call 467-3800 or stop in the store Monday through Wednesday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., or Saturdays 9 a m. to 2 p.m.