What is a dream? A chance in life to pursue your passion, an opportunity to use your creativity to produce an aesthetic experience, an artistic journey to identify your purpose in life.
On a recent visit with Andrew Pearce, we heard his story and learned about his entrepreneurial endeavor to create wooden bowls. Pearce is living his dream – passion, art, innovation, and the ability to engage his strengths and creative powers.
Andrew Pearce was first diagnosed with dyslexia back in 1992 while in the fourth grade. This diagnosis was confirmed during Andrew’s sixth grade year with subsequent evaluations of his learning profile at the Stern Center. Andrew attended the Greenwood School for grades five through eight and then the Forman School in Connecticut for grade nine. He then transferred to Hanover High School for grades 10 through 12, where he spent part of each day at Hartford Area Career and Technology Center working with his hands and developing skills. He found value in being evaluated at a young age and credited his parents for being such strong advocates for him and his three brothers. He went on to say, “You have to identify it (your learning disability) and understand it first so you can then find people who can support you and help you out in a way that fits your style of learning because it can be really challenging. Once you can do that, then it becomes really fun.”
Andrew was quite clear when sharing his story that he found school a hard place to be:
“School was just frustrating for me. It was not fun or interesting. It was just something that I had to do. People would open up the book and say, ‘Here is the problem, now figure it out.’ That does not work well for me at all. There needs to be a reason behind it, and you need to walk me through it. Plus, I hated testing almost as much as I hated school, and I hated homework more than both of those combined.”
The Stern Center’s motto – “All great minds don’t think alike” is reflected in everything that Andrew has accomplished. After graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute in 2002, followed by a bit of traveling around the world, he spent the next 10 years working at SIMON PEARCE, his father’s glassblowing company, learning how each department worked. One of the products that SIMON PEARCE carries to compliment their glass products is wooden bowls. Andrew shared the story of the day he, his dad, and a colleague went to visit the facility that was supplying them with bowls. He spoke in awe of this antiquated machine that cut multiple bowls out of a log of wood.
“I just couldn’t get my head around how it could work. It was a mystery to me. I love the puzzle-like nature of trying to figure out all the different components of a machine!”
Years later after deciding that he wanted to move on from SIMON PEARCE, he remembered that visit. That curiosity, along with the facility’s closure and the resultant lack of hand-turned wooden bowls in the marketplace, sparked in Andrew the pursuit of a dream and a passion.
“I think that the number of people with dyslexia or another learning disability are a minority of the population but because of that, we have an advantage. We may not be good at certain things but we excel at other things. I don’t go out and bang my head against the wall every day and try to read or write books because that is not what I am good at. I go and build things because I’m good at that. And I love it.”
And although unsure of whether his learning disability has been a significant factor in what led him to this ultimate career choice, Andrew certainly recognizes that his attitude towards it has shaped him: “The biggest thing is how you perceive having a learning disability. Even now, I still call it a learning disability, but it is not a disability. It is a learning difficulty. But that doesn’t make it a disability. It simply means you have a hard time learning in the way that schoolwork is traditionally taught.” For Andrew, with that untraditional mind, he went on to build a successful company, including the machinery on which the whole operation relies, such as the drying kiln system and the bowl cutting machine.
After being in business for less than five years, ANDREW PEARCE BOWLS currently has 13 employees, 11 sales reps around the country, and 170 plus different wholesale accounts. Each year demand is increasing, and Andrew is looking to expand his ventures into other product markets. Andrew has a good head on his shoulders and knows that, “If you hire great people, treat them well, and have a high-quality product, you will be able to create a great business.”
Andrew Pearce’s wooden bowls are now on display in their new facility located right on Route 4 (59 East Woodstock Road, Hartland), between Quechee and Woodstock. The display is extraordinary; bowls, cutting boards, and planters fashioned out of the extra pieces of leftover logs. The smell of wood and wood oil permeates the air. If you are interested in seeing a dream come true and a passion fulfilled, we encourage you to go check them out. What an inspiration, and what a testament that learning differences can lead to something truly special.