One of my fondest memories growing up was watching home improvement shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There is something fascinating about watching others fix, design and build things that never seems to get dull. In a half hour, a kitchen floor could be tiled and basic plumbing installed along with pot lights by a small crew of carpenters… usually right in the thick of it was Bob Vila!
Background Information about Bob Vila
During the 80s and 90s, there was no missing Bob Vila, he was everywhere it seems, from guest appearances on Tim Allen’s “Tool Time with Tim Taylor” to guest appearances on many other television shows and even starting in a series of his own series. It all began in 1946 when he was born into a Cuban family as Robert J. Vila in Miami, Florida. He later attended the University of Florida to receive a BS in Journalism followed by a stint at the Boston Architectural Center.
Bob Vila the businessman
Bob Vila traveled Europe for two years after receiving his BS in Journalism, after his studies at the Boston Architectural Center he began his own business renovating houses and designing living spaces for clients in the local Boston area. He enjoyed success in this endeavor and this lead to him receiving a number of awards.
Bob Vila’s co-hosting gig
After winning the “Heritage House of 1978” award from Better Homes and Gardens, Bob Vila was subsequently hired as a co-host of the popular show “This Old House” with Norm Abram, himself a very accomplished master carpenter. Norm had the gift of making everything look so damn easy to build and Bob Vila had the ability to make even the most mundane aspects of carpentry a must-see, together they where a fantastic combination. Bob Vila stayed with “This Old House” for 11 years before parting ways with Norm in 1989 to begin his own series, the cause of this legendary break-up is still a hotly debated topic. One rumor that seems to have the most legs is that Bob Vila was increasingly using the notoriety of the show to propel himself and this caused some friction with the producers, including Norm.
Bob Vila’s takes control
Whether by chance or planning, Bob Vila saw the writing on the wall after leaving “This Old House” and decided to begin his own show called “Bob Vila’s Home Again” whose popularity propelled him into popular culture stardom. He became the official spokesperson for anything “carpentry” related with Sears under the brand “Craftsman Tool” and the show had a catchy theme that showed entire home projects over multiple segments. I remember watching his shows vividly, especially one in which he was building a sunken greenhouse. It was odd because he always had the people who owned the house pay the work site a visit to show progress and to receive feedback but on this project, he never did this. It was later revealed by him that this was actually his house (he was the client), a nice personal touch that won him many fans. As his popularity peaked in the 90s, he wrote several books about architecture and home improvements. In 2005, he renamed his show “Bob Vila” and began selling his own brand of tools with himself being the personality behind them. He also produced “Guide to Historic Homes of America” and “In Search of Palladio” but they never reached the fame of his self-titled shows. He now the undisputed king of the home improvement empire, stretching his influence around the world that will last for generations to come.
Bob Vila the Humanitarian
Bob Vila has had a profound effect on the entire Home Improvement craze that swept the United States beginning in the 1990s, he enjoyed tremendous success but always gave back to both his fans and communities. He did a number of speaking gigs and gives a helping hand with a number of charities such as Habitat for Humanity, The Hemingway Preservation Foundation and even his very own foundation, aptly called the “Vila Foundation”. He is married and has three children.
The Bottom Line
Notice how Bob Vila became incredibly successful after he decided to take control over his destiny, there is no reason why you can’t do the same!