Spring is in the air and mowers are on the grass. And those with the need to keep a tidy lawn may want to head over to 521 N Front St. in Rockwood and visit SL Bowman and Sons, a family owned lawn mower store in operation since 1989.
SL Bowman started as Roane Lumber Company, founded in 1941, and functioned until burning down in 1951. The company then reformed into SL Bowman and Sons and functioned as house movers for a time. “We’ve moved houses, we’ve been in the trucking business, we’ve sold lawn mowers, our dad was in the lumber business, we’ve cut some timber,” said Sanders Bowman. “We’re all brothers and from Roane County,” said Tom Bowman.
“There’s three of us, Sanny, Jack, and Tom. We’re all three still vital in the business here. One of the brothers is 92, another is 90, and I’m 74.”
In 1981, the business operated as a seller of John Deere mowers until 1989 when they shifted toward selling Simplicity and Ferris brand mowers. “The reason we quit is when they put the cheaper brands of lawn mower into Lowe’s and Home Depot,” said Tom Bowman. “After that, we went to selling Simplicity and Ferris zero turn mowers. We have a large shop with three full-time mechanics that do all the service work.”
Lawn mower sales and maintenance makes up the majority of business for the Bowman brothers, but the recent supply shortage has begun to agitate the business, but not so much that it has harmed the business.
“Lawn mowers are kind of hard to obtain, and I’m not sure if that’s because of the coronavirus,” said Tom Bowman. “But other than that, things are going good. We have a large selection of parts for all types of mowers, we work on all types of mowers.” Other than mowers, Bowman and Sons also sells parts, appliances, tools, seeds, garden supplies, and more. The brothers also own a waste management business called Bowman Brothers that manages 31 dumpsters in Roane County with more to come. Each of the brothers has a storied history, with Jack Bowman having served as a Tennessee House Representative in the 86th General Assembly from 1967 to 1976. Sanders Bowman served two years in the United States Army, and Tom served 8 years in the Tennessee National Guard’s tank unit. Jack Bowman, said he believes the key to the business’s longevity is unity and the drive to keep moving forward.
“We need to strive in Roane County to go forward,” said Jack Bowman. “We can’t stand still in a rural county like this. We’ll go under, the businesses won’t do well. I think it’s a situation where everybody’s got to help a little. We’ve got to be united, we can’t squander and fuss with each other.”
Those interested in the types of products and services available at SL Bowman and Sons can stop by the shop or call 865-354-0600.