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Woodbury man launches pro-bono handyman service

Woodbury resident Rick Muellner said he’s eager to help people in need of home repairs. (Staff photo by Mike Longaecker)

Rick Muellner is a pretty handy guy.

He singlehandedly remodeled every room of his family’s split level home. When he’s not updating the home, he’s busy tinkering in his garage or out in the yard working on projects.

“If something’s broken or not working, I am on a mission to get it right,” the father of three said.

But now that the stay-at-home dad has found more free time, he’s looking to put his skills to use outside his own home.

Muellner announced this month he is launching a pro-bono handy-man service for Woodbury residents. Though the service is still taking shape, he envisions it like this: When people encounter things like leaky faucets, busted windows or broken-down garage door openers, but aren’t able to fix them on their own, he’s going to help.

The concept, Muellner explained, is to provide his services free of charge to those who have fallen on hard financial times and could use a hand.

“If they say they need help, I’m going to help,” he said.

He figures there will be elderly people who don’t get around like they used to. So maybe a handle on the bathtub would be in order.

Or how about the struggling family with a stairway railing that’s become dangerous? Bingo, he said.

Muellner, 58, said the service is an extension of his eagerness to help others. He said he’s the guy in the neighborhood who’s happily clearing others’ driveways after winter storms.

“I love to help people,” Muellner said. “I just like to make people’s lives better.”

He said he had been thinking for some time about ways to give back to the community. He said he enjoys volunteering at retirement homes and other community outreach activities, but ultimately asked himself “What is it I can do that’s unique to me?”

Then it occurred to him. He would utilize his home improvement skills for people who can’t afford to pay for the help.

Muellner said he ran the idea past his family, who were supportive of the idea.

He’s moving forward without an income threshold for clients; Muellner figures he’ll trust that those who request the help will need it.

“In my heart, I don’t think there will be people trying to take advantage,” he said. “My gut will be able to sense it.”

Muellner also acknowledged he may need to establish trust with prospective clients. He understands that some people may be leery of a person offering pro-bono home repairs.

Muellner submits that he has been cleared through background checks to work for District 833 and to participate in a mission trip.

If it helps, he said he’s even willing to pay for private background check if a client desires.

“In today’s society, I understand that completely,” Muellner said.

The former computer programmer said he discovered his knack for home remodeling projects as soon as he became a homeowner. At first, he hired out jobs, but wasn’t always satisfied with the work.

“I’m a pretty particular guy on how things are done,” he said. “I said, ‘I think I can do this better.’”

Muellner said he is completely self-taught when it comes to home projects – apart from the home improvement television shows to which he is devoted.

But when it comes to jobs he’ll do for the community, Muellner – who said he has a hard time telling folks “no” – admitted he will have to draw a line. Kitchen remodel projects? Not so much. The same will go for things like bathroom overhauls.

Still, he said “I want to do as much as I can, though.”

Muellner is hoping that if the service takes off, he might be able to lure other community members into joining in the effort. He envisions a program that enlists the help of plumbing experts and people with serious heating and air conditioning know-how.

For now, though, he’s looking to get his feet wet in the community.

“If they say they need help, I’m going to help,” Muellner said.

Anyone interested in contacting Muellner about the service may email him at

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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