By Jonathan Owens
People passing by a quiet home on Carthage Street last fall had no idea that a national television show was in production there.
Inside his workshop Bret Schaller was hard at work, competing on “Assembly Required,” a new reality contest show hosted by Tim Allen and Richard Karn in a pseudo-reboot of the roles that made them stars in the 1990s on the sitcom “Home Improvement”.
The episode featuring Schaller, an engineer who owns Schaller Industries, will air on April 13 on the History Channel. Because it had not aired as of publication, he could not share the specifics about his experiences on the show.
“Everything you’ll see with me is filmed in Sanford on Carthage Street,” he said. “It was the most intense thing I’ve ever done. It was awesome though.”
After being selected to be on the show more than a year ago from a casting invite on Facebook, initially the plan was for Schaller to travel to Los Angeles to compete in the studio alongside Allen and Karn. Then the COVID pandemic hit, and the show was shelved for six months as production all over the country shut down.
The show’s production company pivoted to a new format, with Allen and Karn in the studio while the contestants like Schaller competed from their workshops. A film crew spent five days at his home last September, filming his work.
“Because I was working in my own shop, I had zero excuses,” he said.
In the show, three contestants have a specific time to build an item – anything from a flame-throwing ice-melting leaf blower to a do-it-yourself jacuzzi and BBQ bicycle – selected by Allen and Karn. Allen and Karn judge the contestants’ work, and eliminate one after Round 1. The two finalists compete for $5,000.
“It was so stressful,” Schaller said of the experience. “I was doing things I know would make shop teachers at school cringe. I was just flying through. At one point, I even cut my jeans and kept working.”
Schaller gave no hints about the outcome of the show. He just said he was proud of his work.
“They gave us so much freedom that it was all up to us,” he said. “I think I came up with a pretty elegant solution.”
He also enjoyed the competitiveness of the show.
“I never played sports in school, and I grew up not competing,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. I would do it again. It was stressful, but I had a great time.”