Woodworking skills come in handy in TV competition
ALUMNI | Andy Panko, BE00, nailed a TV appearance as a contestant—and eventual finalist—on the show All American Handyman, which aired Sunday evenings in September and October on Home and Garden Television.
Panko, who graduated with a double major in finance and marketing, joined 19 other contestants in the opening challenge to determine America’s best handyman or handywoman. Over the next several episodes, competitors were gradually eliminated, leaving Panko one of the final four in the show’s last episode.
For their final challenge, which ended in a victory by Jared Polston, each contestant had to build a small garden shed and then design and build a mock kitchen.
Although he now works as a credit risk analyst at a large financial institution and an adjunct professor of finance at Rutgers University, Panko says he grew up in a home that was always under some kind of renovation.
“And, I worked in a plumbing supply warehouse during summers in high school and college,” he says. “I was always around construction and the trades, and I was naturally fascinated by it all.”
He became passionate about woodworking and began building shelves, before moving on to basic furniture and then to full-scale renovations including the complete demolition and remodeling of the kitchen in the Edison, N.J., home he shares with his wife and two children.
“The skill aspect developed over time, but doing well on the show also required the ability to think quickly and clearly,” Panko says. “It’s also important not to let yourself get too nervous. I think the show is self-selecting in that way.”