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Kevin O’Connor Judges Make48 National Competition

The popular host of This Old House and Ask This Old House, Kevin O’Connor was a guest judge at Make48’s sixth national competition. Kevin has been the host of TOH since 2003, and you couldn’t ask for a better person to judge products created in just 48 hours.

Kevin is an expert at building in unforeseen circumstances. His expertise takes him to job sites across America, where they renovate old homes for This Old House in unique situations. “We’re constantly confronted with unexpected challenges, things that you can't foresee. A good crew who does that, gets themselves prepared for the unknown and we've been on job sites long enough to anticipate problems.”

This was the first Make48 event Kevin has attended, and he found that judging the teams was going to be interesting. “ My feelings are a mix of a little bit of excitement and a little bit of nervousness. I have a sense as to how much time and effort these teams have put into their ideas. We want to make sure to pick the best one and I also like the fact that we get to see the presentations and learn about their creative process.”

Kevin O'Connor, Wendy Byram and Kevin Mako (l to r)

T-Mobile challenged the teams to create a type of transportation device for the Animal Wellness theme. With 70% of US households owning a pet, there are more solutions and products hitting the marketplace for our animals. “I totally appreciate the need to figure out a lot of these problems with pets. I also travel a lot and am impressed by the fact that the teams are working towards what could very likely be a real world, practical solution that we're going to need. It would not surprise me if something very legitimate and real comes out of this event and makes it to market,” Kevin noted.

Originally from New Jersey, Kevin lives with his wife and three children near Boston, along with his pets. Growing up, Kevin and his siblings grew up on various job sites, led by his father, a civil engineer. Kevin received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the College of the Holy Cross and a Master’s of Business Administration degree from Boston University. Prior to his television career, Kevin worked for Bank of America as a Senior Vice President in the Commercial Real Estate Group and before that in the Sports Finance Group at Fleet Bank.

As someone who’s worked in both the business world and television, Kevin has come to learn that ideas are easy and plentiful, but taking those ideas to fruition is a barrier for many. “Execution is difficult. And while I think creativity and novel ideas are important, I'm going to be focusing on ‘did they actually make something that they can execute on?’ I don't want to see something too complicated or something so far away from reality. I'm really going to be focused on will it work? Could T-Mobile actually get the product into the marketplace, which is a very demanding environment.” In addition to the execution of the product, Kevin looked at the creative process, uniqueness, practicality, and how the team collaborated together.

One of the reasons Kevin participated at Make48 goes back to when he needed a place to ideate. “When I was growing up, I had to scratch my itch to work with my hands. There weren't a lot of options to do it, either in the garage or the basement. Eventually, I found a community woodshop that I could go to.”

Kevin continued, “Events like this, I think, give people access to scratch the creative itch. It allows people to figure out whether or not they like doing these things. They have access to a space, to mentors, to equipment, and to actually figure out if this thing is for you. Until you actually spend a weekend, or several weekends, with your hands and brain working on a project together, you're not going to know what you're capable of. Or whether or not it’s something you enjoy. An event like this is a perfect opportunity for both young people, but also others who want to dig in and get real world experience of what they're trying.”

You’ll be able to see Kevin and the Make48 competition when it airs on This Old House Makers Channel on Roku this Fall (‘23). In the meantime, follow Kevin O’Connor on Facebook, Twitter @kevinoconnortoh, Instagram @kevinoconnortoh, and TikTok.

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