This Coach Helps Contractors “Get Things Right”

1593479044966 Headshot
Updated Apr 18, 2024

This week’s guest on The Dirt helps organizations and CEOs of construction and other companies in the trades “get things right.”

Mikel Bowman is the president and creator of Bowman Legacies, which has as its motto: “Bridging the gap between boots-on-ground and executive staff. Helping you build a legacy that will far surpass your legend."

Bowman provides coaching on areas like organizational culture, leadership development, personal development and mentoring and life coaching to groups within organizations and personally one-on-one.  

“Bowman Legacies is helping the lives of blue-collar people one CEO at a time,” the company says. “… Our simple approach to everyday problems helps organizations usher a great culture for those who get the job done.”

Some might be surprised to hear him speak of helping company leaders and those within their organizations with personal problems. But he explains, “If you’re not moving forward personally, it’s very hard to move forward professionally.”

In his interview with host Bryan Furnace, he also delivers insight on such topics as suicide in the trades, relationship problems and business advice.

So if you’re looking to “get things right” in your company – or your life – check out the latest episode of The Dirt.

Equipment World serves up weekly videos on the latest in construction equipment, work trucks and pickup trucks – everything contractors need to get their work done. Subscribe and visit us at!

In This Episode:

  • 00:00 - Mikel Bowman: Construction Business Coach
  • 00:26 - Who Is Mikel Bowman?
  • 01:28 - What’s Bowman’s Background?
  • 04:20 - How Does Bowman Solve Problems in Companies?
  • 05:51 - Are There Common Issues in Construction Companies?
  • 07:09 - Does Bowman Focus on the Entire Company or One Person?
  • 10:17 - Why Should a “Manly” Business Owner Hire a Counselor and Business Coach? 17:27 - Why Words of Encouragement Are So Important
  • 20:03 - How Can You Contact Mikel Bowman?
  • 21:49 - Final Thoughts


Bryan Furnace (00:00):

Hi everybody. Welcome back to Equipment World. You're watching The Dirt. I'm your host Bryan, and today we're here to talk to Mikel Bowman. He has got some sound wisdom and sound advice for the trades, and he's just a cool dude. So without further ado, here's Mikel. So my first question is can you tell everyone who you are and what it is you do?

Mikel Bowman (00:33):

My name is Mikel Bowman. It's spelled funky. It's Mikel. A lot of people call me Mikel, but I don't mind at this point. I am the president and creator of a business called Bowman Legacies, and what we do is we help organizations, CEOs and presidents just get things right, whether that's leadership issues, whether that's operational problem, safety problems and personal problems, 'cause I really feel like a lot of companies focus very one-sided on things. They look at things very linearly, and what they don't realize is that if you're not moving forward personally, it's really hard for you to move forward professionally. And so we've helped people through divorces, we've helped people with grief sharing. We've helped presidents on all kinds of levels so that they can clear their mind up and lead on a higher level when they're at work.

Bryan Furnace (01:27):

So I guess my question, I think about that from your perspective, going into an organization and saying, "I can help you improve," that seems a bit of an intimidating thing to do. What's your background? What are your credentials?

Mikel Bowman (01:41):

I spent seven years in a non-for-profit space, which gives me a keen understanding on the human element, where the human mind goes. And in that non-for-profit space, one of my essential jobs was to counsel people one-on-one and help them. And some of those people were coming out of federal prison, so I was helping them to reacclimate to life because if you spent 30 years in federal prison, the way you operate, to live 30 years in a federal prison does not work in this world.

Bryan Furnace (02:13):

Sure, yeah.

Mikel Bowman (02:15):

And so there needs to be new mind shift change. Have helped a lot of people with drug addiction, and that mindset and living in that world takes a huge paradigm shift in your life. And then that constant continual support of finding out what caused you to go down that path in your life and what caused you to make those kinds of choices to not invest in yourself in a great way. And so then on the other side of that, I've been in the drill and blast world and the dirt moving world for a long time on and off in my lifetime. So it gives me that keen understanding of, I know the difference between a backhoe and an excavator, even though we all call it the hoe, everybody knows what we're talking about, right?

Bryan Furnace (02:56):

Yeah, absolutely.

Mikel Bowman (02:58):

Yep. And I know there's a huge difference between a hoe operator and a production hoe operator, right?

Bryan Furnace (03:03):


Mikel Bowman (03:04):

And most guys will tell you, "I'm a production hoe operator." And you're like, "Okay, well, we'll see."

Bryan Furnace (03:07):


Mikel Bowman (03:08):

We'll see.

Bryan Furnace (03:11):

Five minutes, we'll probably tell otherwise, but...

Mikel Bowman (03:15):

Yeah. Yes. It might not even take that long, right? Don't forget, the first truck that he approaches, as soon as he smacks into the side of it, you're like, "Well, maybe."

Bryan Furnace (03:23):

That's it. Yep.

Mikel Bowman (03:25):

"Well, let's get you in a haul truck for a while."

Bryan Furnace (03:28):

That's right. That's right.

Mikel Bowman (03:29):

Right? So I've had that keen understanding, and I was part of a great startup that started off and was an essential executive part of that team and helped a lot of people move forward in that. And it was a very emotional, fast-paced time and influencing in that way. And I just really preached a lot on LinkedIn of things to do, things not to do, things where I was messing up and trying to get better and presidents started reaching out to me for help, and we decided to make a business of it. It's like, why belabor the point? Let's be a consultant, let's be a coach and let's jump in there and help people.

Bryan Furnace (04:05):

I do feel that if you've worked with 30 year inmates, a disgruntled CEO isn't as bad as it sounds.

Mikel Bowman (04:14):

You would be shocked at the similarities.

Bryan Furnace (04:20):

So when you come into an organization that's having issues, what's kind of your approach? How do you go about trying to find the root problem?

Mikel Bowman (04:29):

What's great for me is that a lot of the times I don't have skin in the game at that point. I haven't been there for 15 years or five years, so I'm not disgruntled. I don't have the problem with this employee or that employee, and I don't have that hurt in my heart about it and that frustration, so I'm not so deep in it. And it doesn't take very long. And before long you realize where people are leading in such a way that's just causing a lot of issues. And of course, we all have egos, so there's that. We all have our own baggage that we bring in. A lot of people say you're supposed to leave that stuff at home, but you're really at work more than you are at home, so you don't really... It's going to happen.

Bryan Furnace (05:09):


Mikel Bowman (05:10):

And tempers flare and things happen, and plus sometimes huge drama happens and as a team, we fail and that hurts. And so for me, I'm able to look into it kind of playing two parts, one of Spock and one of Sherlock Holmes. Spock, no emotion in it. I don't need to because it's not my win or loss. And then on the other side of that, I'm just Sherlock Holmes in such a way is I'm just looking for trends and commonalities and finding those facts to bring them to the table and lay them before people. And then not only to say, here's the diagnosis, "Here's five pathways that I believe that you guys can do and move forward. And I'd like to be an integral part of that."

Bryan Furnace (05:49):

Interesting. So let me ask you this, you've been doing this for a while now. Is every situation totally unique or do you tend to find that there are some overall trends of excavation companies that you go into? Do you find some similarities?

Mikel Bowman (06:05):

I just got off the phone with a client and we both said the same thing. We both said once I think that I've got it down and I'll never see anything new, something completely from left field pops up. And that's true. So yes, there are a lot of the times there are trends, again in commonalities between two clients that I'm like, and I can glean from that, I'm like, oh yeah, that's how I helped them through this. Now I can help these people through this 'cause the same situation. But really each client brings a unique approach or a unique issue that's all intrinsically their own. And so it kind of makes every day completely different. From phone call to phone call, it's never the same. There's no drudgery to this because it's a constant different type of Rubik's Cube every time. And it's exciting at times, especially when you see people win. Or you get a president after you've worked with them for a year go, "Hey, I love you." That's when you know that you've brought that value.

Bryan Furnace (07:05):

You've had an impact. Yeah.

Mikel Bowman (07:06):


Bryan Furnace (07:07):

That's awesome. So it sounds like you... Do you focus more on the overall group, the company itself, or are you more of a, if I'm struggling as president, CEO, part of the management team, you're more of a personal counselor and advisor? I guess, explain that role a little better to me.

Mikel Bowman (07:32):

So we do both here, and where I really enjoy it is those one-on-one conversations, helping someone get to the bottom of it. And not only that, it's so much better for me to be like a guide and you coming to these understandings on your own and at me helping you through them. Because what that does is it helps you to grow so much more and helps you to draw a line in the sand, so those issues don't have to come back. I think that if you were to build a boat and you had someone else build it for you, and you're out in the middle of the ocean and there's a problem, guess what? You're lost on how to fix it. But if you've had someone that guided you through it and said, "Put your hand there, that's where the wrench goes. This is the mast, this is the keel, this is how this works," when something happens, you're more of a green Beret or a Navy SEAL in that moment because you know how that thing works and breaths and it's an extension of your body.


Your organization can be as well. Sometimes when we get to that place of president, we've lost connectivity with the inner workings and the field staff, and that's where I help bring that back and say, "Hey, let's get reconnected. Let's move back in there. Let's look together at these issues and move forward." And of course, those personal things with my counselor background, I love doing that. Your mess does not scare me. It doesn't bother me. And so I literally sat with a guy in an office one time and him look at me and say, "Yes, I spent 30 years in prison. I was a one percenter biker. I got married, I traded her for a Cadillac." And he just kept going on. And I thought, okay, well hold on. Let's pump the brakes here. You traded a human being-

Bryan Furnace (09:15):

One issue at a time.

Mikel Bowman (09:17):

Yeah. Let's slow down. You traded a human being for a Cadillac. Let's talk about that.

Bryan Furnace (09:22):

Yes, yes.

Mikel Bowman (09:24):

If I can get through that, I can get through your pending divorce. I can get through your emotional issues, your problems, because I love doing that. It's just what I was built for, man. I don't call it weird, I don't know, but I love seeing you be successful because you have greatness within you. Every person, man, that I've ever met, even that 30 year veteran coming out of prison, he had greatness in him. He just did know it. He did not recognize it. And he made choices consistently to all the things that he was programmed to believe about himself. And one of the things that we love doing, we call it reprogramming your pre-programming. In other words, there's a lot of negative stuff that goes on in our heads that we don't even realize on a daily basis that's way slowing us down. And so it's my passion to be able to help you to recognize your own greatness and then help others do the same.

Bryan Furnace (10:16):

Now, this is where I've got to play the dirt industry and say, Mikel, we don't talk about our feelings and emotions. We don't do that. We're manly men-

Mikel Bowman (10:28):


Bryan Furnace (10:28):

... and we stuff that down. So in your words, why is this something that the manliest of men should absolutely consider hiring someone like yourself to come in and just help them, not only just from a company standpoint and everything that you've said, there's so much room for personal development and so many people in this industry, could you explain why this is worth their time?

Mikel Bowman (12:40):

First and foremost, I'm going to agree with you 100% because I was there. I'm an outdoorsman. I love my country. I'm a hunter. My background, I was in martial arts, I was knocking down third degree black belts at one time. I met my wife at an amateur kickboxer's wedding. And so, yeah.

Bryan Furnace (12:58):

That's like the most American thing I've ever heard.

Mikel Bowman (13:00):

American, right? I love my country and I'm very patriotic. And if you would've presented this stuff to me a few years ago, I would've told you it was bull(beep) too. I would've absolutely called you up to the carpet on it and like, "Man, that's crap."


But I'll never forget coming to a place in my life where, man, I was just at the end of myself. I was getting in fights at work, I was throwing guys up against the wall. I was just extremely frustrated about where my career was not in life and where I was not. And I never forget a guy looking at me one day, and his name was Perry Sanders. Now, this was a dude who, he was known as a fighter when he was young. He was a very tough guy. He was very well known for that. He also, at one time in his life, owned his own construction business and was doing multi-million dollars. And his brothers still do, he still works for that company. But in a situation where it's at the end of myself, he looked at me and said, "Mikel, I see greatness in you. I see greatness in you." And at first, I'm going to be honest, I thought he was flirting with me. I was like, "Dude, yeah, yeah. You think so?"

Bryan Furnace (14:04):

"Okay, weirdo."

Mikel Bowman (14:06):

Yeah, "Take it easy, partner. My wife's just right over there." But to be honest, and he was seeing the frustration, and there's going to be people listening to this and watching this right now, you're so frustrated, you're so wore out, you're at the end of yourself. And it doesn't matter if you're entry level employee or you're the president of an organization, the dirt world needs this because I'm telling you, there are people whose lives are on the line every day in what we do. I've been to sites that it took you 45 minutes to an hour to get down the switchbacks just to get loaded.

Bryan Furnace (14:38):


Mikel Bowman (14:39):

And man, if you sneezed the wrong way, man, and the berm wasn't right, that's your last day on earth.

Bryan Furnace (14:46):


Mikel Bowman (14:47):

And life or death rests in single decisions. And if you've ever been on a site, I'll never forget being on a site, watching a guy get into a haul truck to take it to the ready line. And he was in flip-flops, Bermuda shorts, and a wife beater. No hard hat, no nothing. It was at the end of the day, and I didn't say anything. A week later, that guy was dead. He backed over the high wall, and there wasn't enough of him to put in a five gallon bucket. His head wasn't in it, his heart wasn't in it. And the more that we challenge ourselves to grow, the more that we challenge ourselves and look into those dark murky places and face them, that's the manliest thing that you can do. You want to talk about manly? Manly is going to a job you hate every day because you got wife and kids that you're trying to provide for. The manliest thing also is to understand that you need to be there for those wives and kids.

Bryan Furnace (15:37):


Mikel Bowman (15:37):

And you're expected to have more of your life at work than the ones that you love. So when do you have time to get well-rounded? That's up to you. That's when you go back to the hotel. I've had those one-way tickets to California, be there for three weeks, four weeks, and not see my kids. I know what it's like to come home late at night and to see my kids look different because they grew. I know what it's like to come home and have to undress on the porch 'cause so covered and hammer oil and hydraulic fluid that I am disgusting. And I know what it's like to four in the morning walk out the door, and my kids be dressed in my PPE to get up at 3:30 so they could see me walk out the door. I know what that's like and the frustrations that piled up in it, man, it doesn't take long for me as a person who is quick to violence to start hurting people and hurting myself.


And what I had to realize was that the mastery is self-control, discipline, moving forward in truth, in honor, and all the stuff that I thought was fluff and bull crap actually changed my life, gave me an international following. And I've saved many, many lives from people. And that's not a tote for me. Thank God for that. And thank God that Perry Sanders decided to pump the brakes one day. See a young man that was hurting and said, "You know what? You've got greatness within you and you've not been living up to that standard, and I can help you get there." And that's what our whole business is wrapped around. It's wrapped around that quintessential moment in my life where it completely turned around and changed. I'm telling you, it's not fluff, and I know we want to hide our feelings, but the problem is, when we do that, those unresolved issues cause us to act out in other ways that doesn't work. And in our industry, we need to be at the top level that we can be.

Bryan Furnace (17:27):

It's interesting, that statement, "I see greatness in you," our industry is known as kind of the catch-all for the people who couldn't hack it in school. And in all honesty, that's the way a lot of the world views the trades is all the washouts that couldn't hack it in school. And so you've already got this hurt group of people that, I bet the vast majority of them have never had a statement such as, "I see greatness in you," ever said in their direction. That's a powerful statement. And that hits hard.

Mikel Bowman (18:02):

It does hit hard. I'll never forget being on top of a mountain, and I met this guy named James. And the crazy thing is I knew I knew him. And here I'm from Indiana and I'm in California up in this mountain. I'm like, I know, I know that guy. And he was hanging around another dude and he had a diamond tattoo on his neck, and it said 1%. And I'm like, oh, I know I know those guys. And it ended up, I did a funeral for a president of a club, and they were there at that funeral, and it had been two years prior.


And so I went to them and it was like, "Guys, I think I know you." And we got to talking and we did. And James was a Marine Corps vet. He was 21 years old. He had seen some stuff and he was driving a truck because he wanted to get down with the new culture that this business that we were in, this company we were in was being a part of. It was very exciting. I'll never forget, I just looked at him and I said, "Dude, you have greatness within you. I see it. I recognize it, James." So I just did the same thing Perry did for me. And I remember him looking at me.


And then a year later after I left that company, he calls me and says, "I've moved on." He moved to a different company, moved to a different company. Now he is a trainer and a leadership consultant within an organization. He wears a suit and tie to work every day. He motivated and moved himself in such a way that now he's making better money for his family because he recognized the fact that, damn it, I've got something in me. And I'm going to tell you, I don't care if you're a haul truck driver, and by the way, if you're a haul truck driver, they can't do it without you. Did you know that? I know that you're passing the hall everyday-

Bryan Furnace (19:36):

It's almost like we're all essential.

Mikel Bowman (19:39):

Absolutely. Every one of you. You can't do it without the other, right?

Bryan Furnace (19:43):


Mikel Bowman (19:43):

You can't do it without the HR lady. You can't do it without the president. You can't do it without sales. We're all in this together, and you're all just have that same intrinsic value. But no matter where you are, and I don't care if you're eight to 80, you got greatness in you. And it's up to you whether or not you want to live for that potential. But that's where discipline and hard work comes in.

Bryan Furnace (20:03):

So Mikel, if someone wanted to get ahold of you to even discuss what it would look like to have you either get involved at an individual level or with their organization, how would they go about that?

Mikel Bowman (20:14):

One of the best ways is LinkedIn. That's where I'm at. That's where I started to influence a lot. And so just Mikel Bowman, you can look at me up there. We do have a website, You can check out my book, Lead From the Middle. It's on Amazon, and you can see what I'm all about. You can see about a story about a guy who called me at three o'clock in the morning with a gun in his mouth and a guy that I worked with. And that's what that whole book is about, is that quintessential moment where I've either led on a high level and poured into this life in such a way that's going to save his life, or I've got a front row seat to hearing a bullet chase a rabbit through his brain.

Bryan Furnace (20:54):

Yeah. Well, I really appreciate your time and up until that very last moment, the positivity... But at the same time, let's be totally honest, the trades needs to talk about this-

Mikel Bowman (21:10):

We do.

Bryan Furnace (21:10):

... substantially more than we do. This is... Suicide rate's-

Mikel Bowman (21:15):

Drug addiction is a horrible problem right now.

Bryan Furnace (21:17):

And suicide rate is what, four times the national average in the trades?

Mikel Bowman (21:20):

It is.

Bryan Furnace (21:20):

I mean, it's just, this needs to be a regular topic of discussion. And I feel like for a lot of people in the industry, it's a hot button. You talk about it so everyone can feel good that you talked about it, but no one wants to have the real conversations about it, and it needs to be a real conversation.

Mikel Bowman (21:37):

Right. We need to do something. And I think there's a lot of people that want to out there.

Bryan Furnace (21:42):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, Mikel, thank you again. This has been great.

Mikel Bowman (21:45):

Thank you. I appreciate it. It's always a humble honor. Thank you so much.

Bryan Furnace (21:49):

Well, thank you again for Mikel taking time to be on the show today. As you can see, he has got just a lot of really sound information, whether it's talking about suicide in the trades, talking about just relational problems, talking about business advice, he's just got a ton of information. So as always, I hope this helps you in your business. We'll catch you on the next episode of The Dirt.