When Ron Bouwer was just three years old, he came to America for the first time.
Now living in Granville, Mass., with his wife, Robin, Bouwer works at a small, run-down, yet reliable hardware store called Interstate Building Supply in Southwick, Mass.
“I was born in Holland,” said Bouwer, coming on either the QE1, or QE2 (he’s not sure), pushing that he came before you could really trust planes.
At the awe most people express from this awesome two week journey, Bouwer claims he remembers very little,”There was a big wall of glass, and I remember looking out, but that’s the only thing I remember.”
After the immigration from Holland, from age 3-10, him and his family ended up in Hartford, Conn., living in a large house with five other families. Not until age ten or eleven did they move into a home in East Hartford, where he finished out high school, and met his wife Robin.
Bouwer and his wife met in their church youth group. He claims they were best friends, up until their senior year when they finally decided to date.
After graduating High school, Bouwer attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he began his studies in Forestry, although after just his third year, he left.
Bouwer, entering the forestry major to work in the woods, soon realized the University was pushing desk jobs upon them. “Screw that!” he so graciously exclaimed while tossing his hand. Bouwer also wanted to take on wildlife management as a minor, however, due to his demanding major, they weren’t allowing him to take on a minor.
Although his journey at UMass ended, the Girl Scouts Camp, which he had been working at every summer with Robin, offered him a full time job as “Camp Ranger.” Bouwer took that job, and, as he explained it, was basically a maintenance worker.
While working at the camp, and Robin in her last year of college, they remained together until graduation, after which, they decided to get married and moved to Granville, Mass. Robin remained the camp director, and Bouwer stayed at the camp as well, but also holding a photography business on the side.
Bouwer was the camp photographer, photographed weddings and events (even his own wedding!) and loved to attend photography seminars. His favorite seminar, he was explaining, being in Washington D.C, where he ended up getting a chance to be in a picture in LIFE magazine.
After Bouwer and his wife decided to move on from their camp jobs, not only was he a photographer, but him and Robin also earned their EMT certification and worked for the town of Granville Fire Department.
During the nights he and Robin would volunteer for the Granville fire department, and continued up until they had their two children, Chris and Emily.
This was all happening while he worked construction for Robin’s uncle, and shortly after, became licensed and started his very own construction and remodeling business.
Bouwer said his busiest year, he shot 12 weddings on weekeds, continued his construction and remodeling business during the day, and volunteered at night. Afterwards though, he realized it might be time to slow down.
After keeping up with just the remodeling business, Bouwer realized he needed a job with benefits, and in 1999 he joined The Home Depot full time.
The Depot had him doing everything a manager would do, but without the title, which, for Bouwer, was just as well. He had no desire to be the manager.
After working with The Depot for about 11 years, his time ended after his son Chris was in a surfing accident and broke his neck. Now unable to use his legs he was required to have full time personal care assistant.
Bouwer being so qualified, learned that in the state of Massachusetts, a family member could get paid with benefits to be a PCA. So he became Chris’s full time PCA.
Although after a few years, the learning curve of Chris’s accident was subsiding, and they were mostly settled into the new way of living. Bouwer decided it was time to start doing something again. Still as Chris’s PCA, Bouwer decided to take the job at IBS after an opening at the Lumber desk became available.
Bouwer’s vast knowledge of construction and hardware made him the perfect candidate for the position, where he has been for almost a year and a half now.
His incredible life thus far has only been a small portion of what is to come for this incredibly humble, kind, and extraordinarily talented man.