Friday, March 8, 2013

Style Network’s ‘Built’: Interview with the ‘Hott and Handy’ Team

With expertise in construction and redesigning homes, these high-fashion male models (Gage Cass, Sandy Dias, Shane Duffy, Donny Ware, and Mike Keute) know a thing or two about style both on and off the runway.

With the help of former model and top interior designer, Kim Gieske, this handy team proves that they are more than just handsome fellas with chiseled physiques, when they show off their skill in using power tools on their new reality show Built that debuted earlier this year on Style Network. spoke with four out of the five members of the ‘Hott and Handy’ team about their experience remodeling houses and how they handle working with difficult clients. This question is for Shane, since you are the owner of ‘Hott and Handy’, how did you come about creating this team of handy models?

Shane Duffy: I started the company back in 2010 and all the guys, who are on the show, Built, are my best friends. But they started working as the ‘Hott and Handy’ team before the show was even a concept.

TCC: What would you say is the most fulfilling job, being a model or remodeling homes?

Sandy Dias: That would have to be remodeling homes because you create something out of nothing. We just build things. And when we see the faces of our clients, when they look at the finished product, they are in tears and are so happy with the results. The fact that we can bring joy to people is a great feeling for us.

TCC: I wanted to ask you Mike, aside from modeling you are also pursuing a law degree and an MBA simultaneously while working on the show and handling your company, Famed International, Inc. How do you manage your time with such a hectic schedule?

Mike Keute: I always say, ‘Where there's a will, there's a way.’ For me, life is about becoming my best possible self. While it may seem like I have a lot to handle all at once, I look at it as a challenge and I put forth my best efforts to achieving such. Along the way, I have learned the skill of time management and look forward to embracing the challenges each new day brings me. For energy, I utilize my personal training background, and make sure I go to the gym every morning to hone my focus and keep me motivated throughout the day. In short, it's the combination of time management, a rigorous gym routine and a commitment to becoming my best self that motivates me to be able to achieve all that I have thus far.

TCC: I heard Donny, that you were in a car accident about five years ago that left your face partially burnt. How did you handle recovering from such a horrific event?

Donny Ware: Patience – a lot of patience and keeping positive. It ended up healing just fine. You can’t see any blemishes. It could have been worse, but the accident was definitely a wake up call for me.

TCC: Are other models ever surprised that you guys are into power tools and building things?

Sandy: They are definitely surprised because most models are not as well versed as we are. Every one of us is extremely skilled in every power tool out there. We know what we are doing and yes other models are surprised and envious of us.

Mike: Because of our experience on this show, we actually look forward to ending that stereotype that models are seen as dummies. And we (except for Donny) try to break that mold.

Donny: (Laughs) But in a good way though.

TCC: Is it more difficult to please a client that knows what design they want, or a client that doesn’t have a clue what they want?

Shane: I think it’s challenging either way. For the client that knows what they want, they end up micromanaging throughout the entire project. They envision a certain way they want the end result to turn out and if they feel it’s not going the way they want it to, they’ll freak out. But we ensure them that it’s a process and the end result will be what they want. Now for the client that has no idea what they want it can be difficult too, because you can be there for hours trying to get them to sign off on something and they’ll be indecisive with colors and designs. But in the end the two groups are fun to work with once you get past the planning stage.

TCC: Do you guys have any stories of working with a client that was too demanding?

Sandy: Yeah, one story I have is about a client from our show. He was extremely demanding because he felt like he knew more than us. This client even told me, 'I have a million dollar design team and you guys are just handy men. Do you expect me to believe you can execute such a project?' That’s when I wanted to whip out my aeronautic degree and hit him in the face with it. He tried to push us to the limit to see if we would fail. But I told him that as a foreman of the crew I can ensure him that all the guys are real experts at what we do. So don’t judge us by our appearance. I’m not going to tell you what happened with that project. You’ll have to watch the show.

Shane: Sometimes it is tough dealing with a difficult client like the one Sandy mentioned. We have also had customers that signed off on something and then afterwards not be happy with the results. That ends up costing us thousands of dollars in work that has to be redone. But we take it in stride because we want the customer to be happy and have it turn out the way they want it. Then again, not all of our clients turn out to be difficult. There are some that are pretty reasonable. In the end, we always try to come to a solution with demanding clients.

For more information about “Built,” visit

Written by: Bridget Campos


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