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South Surrey handyman looks to topple challenge

Ocean Park Hardscaper in top-six for HGTV reality show, Canada’s Handyman Challenge.
Ocean Park resident Ken Ross built a working bicycle out of plywood in order to gain a spot on HGTV’s Canada’s Handyman Challenge show.

An Ocean Park hardscaper may have hit the nail on the head with his decision to take on a national handyman challenge.

After seeing promotions on television for HGTV’s Canada’s Handyman Challenge last year, Ken Ross, who a year prior had been laid off from his position in the power-tool industry, was prompted by his wife to take a chance and try out for the show.

“We were watching HGTV when the commercial came on and my wife said, ‘you’re not doing anything at the moment, why not try out?’” Ross said. “We started watching the previous season and I said, ‘yeah OK, I’ll give it a shot.’”

As part of the submission process, Ross, 39, had to complete a plywood project showcasing his handyman skills.

After searching the internet for inspiration, Ross stumbled upon a story about a couple of friends in Europe who had built a wooden bike in honour of the Tour de France.

The story spurred Ross into action, with the end result being a rideable – albeit slightly uncomfortable – bicycle, made out of a sheet of plywood.

“You can ride it, but it totally destroys the wheels,” Ross laughed.

The wooden bike was a hit for the judges, especially television host and contractor Scott McGillivray, who ended up take the bike for a spin during an episode filmed in Vancouver.

“He had it on the stand, so people thought it was stationary, but you can ride it,” Ross noted.

After landing a coveted finalist spot, Ross joined 15 other hopeful contestants from across Canada to battle it out for a chance to win the $25,000 top prize.

“It was nerve-wracking for someone who has never been in front of the cameras before,” Ross admitted. “You have a crew of 50 people and cameras and mikes and you have to work under pressure and make sure you don’t slip and swear.

“But as we progressed, we got to know the crew a bit better and it wasn’t so bad.”

Even if he doesn’t win the top prize, Ross so far he has been on the receiving end of some very welcome prize money. The handyman pocketed $5,000 for winning a challenge to create a tiled bistro table in a limited amount of time.

The extra cash will come in handy for his latest project – his own hardscaping company.

Canadian Hardscape, which he started up in January, had been a goal since Ross began to work for a friend who had his own company specializing in hardscaping.

The work became a passion for Ross, who decided that hardscaping – which includes paving streets, sidewalks and retaining walls – would be his new career path.

And with the added momentum from the show – which was filmed in September 2012 – Ross knew that there was no better time to get started.

“The experience was awesome, just going through that whole process and meeting all the guys, it was really inspiring,” he said. “They really encouraged us to just go after our dreams.”

Canada’s Handyman Challenge airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

The finale is set to air on March 19.

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