“I have this shop because I love doing this stuff. I love working with metal, wood, anything.” That's how Jesse Jennings describes his business, Jennco Design in Billings, and how the shop has propelled him to become a featured builder on the new History Channel series "Assembly Required."
Jennings said that he has been building things and working with tools his entire life, but it wasn’t until about two years ago that he decided to pursue his passion for the craft further. He decided to start an Instagram page where he showcases his work and gets new clients.
“People hire me to make tables. I make beds, I (have) been making a lot of steel table legs for other woodworkers and I have sent stuff all over the country. It’s been amazing, and it’s all come through Instagram,” said Jennings.
One day last February, Jennings said that he received a message on Instagram asking if he wanted to be on a television show. “I thought it was kind of a gimmick or something. I usually get those and ignore them, but for some reason I decided to respond,” said Jennings.
The invitation to appear on the show turned out to be legit and Jennings was soon being interviewed via Skype a few days later. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Jennings.
Jennings said that filming for the show in California was pushed back a few times due to the pandemic until producers ultimately decided to record the show remotely.
He said the film crew hired a Billings videographer and sent him all the equipment needed to film Jennings during the competition, including iPads and laptops.
The day before filming, all the supplies that Jennings needed to build the item for the first episode of the show, was sent to his house: “I wasn’t allowed to open it until cameras were rolling and everybody was watching,” he said.
The other two contestants Jennings competed against on the show also received their necessary supplies and were designated a videographer.
Jennings said each contestant was given 90 minutes to build the item.
“I didn’t know what I had to work with or anything. None of it really fit together, you kind of had to MacGyver stuff,” Jennings said.
Along with being able to show off his skills as a builder on television, Jennings was also able to meet the hosts, whom he’s watched plenty of times on their 1990s sitcom, "Home Improvement" - Tim Allen and Richard Karn. “Those guys are great. We got to sit and talk for a while before filming ever started, just on Skype. They are great, really down-to-Earth guys," he said.
Here is the episode description:
Tim Allen and Richard Karn put the maker's skills to the test when they have them create an all-season leaf blower that can also melt ice and snow. But before they can play with fire, they have to prove they can put one out by creating a class A fire extinguisher. Can the makers bring the heat needed to melt Tim and Richard's hearts or will they be left out in the cold?