Real (Handy) Men

Two brothers turn a successful home renovation business into a reality show on the DIY Network.

Courtesy of DIY Networks/Scripps Networks.
Terry Wittmaack, left, and brother Jon are the stars of Brothers on Call. The two complement each other well. “I’m the businessman, Terry’s the builder,” says Jon.
Courtesy of DIY Networks/Scripps Networks.

It’s easy to see why brothers Terrence and Jonathan Wittmaack, stars of the new reality show Brothers on Call, are referred to by the DIY Network as polar opposites.

“Terry’s married with three children and lives in suburbia,” says Jon, 35. “I’m single and live in Hoboken. He’s level-headed and I’m a complete nut.”

The brothers are co-owners of Man Around the House, a Ridgewood-based home renovation and remodeling business launched by their father, John Wittmaack, in the early 1990s. The senior Wittmaack envisioned a modest business “to change lightbulbs for old ladies with big houses,” they say. The business grew and Terry, who lives in Ridgewood, joined forces with his dad. After John Wittmaack died in 2002, Jon joined the business.

The brothers might be opposites, but their skills are complementary. “I’m the businessman, Terry’s the builder,” says Jon. Together they’ve built a thriving local business; Terry, 40, claims they’ve done work on at least 50 percent of the 8,000 homes in Ridgewood.

Now they are building new careers as reality-TV stars. Brothers on Call, which premieres at 9 pm on October 16, is intended to both entertain and inform homeowners looking for tutorials on everything from building a deck to hanging a swing. Each episode unspools in three parts: the planning, the build and the reveal. “The final reveal part is where the homeowner goes, ‘Wow, I can’t believe how awesome my kitchen is,’” says Jon.

The brothers have mixed feelings about becoming celebrities. “It’s almost surreal; we’re so excited,” says Terry, adding they have had a number of concerns since being approached about doing a show. “My biggest concern is my family,” Terry says. He wants to make sure viewers know “my brother and I may have differences of opinion, but at the end of the day we have a common goal, and we’re hard workers who run a legitimate business.”

Jon has his concerns, too, not least that he and Terry might be lumped in with other New Jersey reality TV stars known for less-constructive exploits. Jon is doing his best to avoid any confusion pre-emptively: “Basically, we don’t use gel in our hair,” he says.

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