Maricopa Fix It rocks the handyman gig

By Christina Sampson

January 3, 2013 - 4:16 pm
Debra Kelly and Mr. Fix It Doug Nanfito with his Emmy. Jake Johnson photo

Maricopa Fix It, a new handyman service in town, offers Emmy-award winning service to its customers.

Literally.

Owner and handyman Doug Nanfito honed his craft, in part, while working as a technical director for daytime television.

In 2000, he won an Emmy for outstanding achievement in the technical direction/electronic camera/video control for a drama series category for his work on “The Young and the Restless.” 

Nanfito moved to Maricopa a year ago with his girlfriend and business partner Debra Kelly.

He saw a need for his services at a more affordable rate and decided to hang his shingle. 

“I was seeing signs at Home Depot to hang a ceiling fan for $99,” Nanfito said.

And, Kelly said, “He can fix anything. He even fixes computers.” 

Nanfito also fixes air conditioners, a niche business he hopes to expand. 

“So often it’s a simple problem,” Nanfito said. “Usually handymen are making some sort of commission, so to make $50 they have to charge $500.”

Nanfito doesn’t work on commission and usually offers free estimates. 

He said he often goes into homes with broken air conditioners and homeowners have paid hundreds dollars just to have a fan belt replaced.

“Doug will say, ‘Oh, it needs this part and we can fix it for $50,’” Kelly said.

Maricopa Fix It also provided the technical stage work for the Great American Barbecue and some of the stage setup work for Stagecoach Days.

“He’s fantastic,” said Will Dunn, of Action Alliance Network, the organization hired by the city to produce the events.

“He’s one of those guys where if you break a keyboard that you bought for your wife he could take it apart with a screwdriver and fix it,” Dunn said. “He’s a super nice guy and I love working with him.”

Working the stage at a public event is an especially fitting gig for Nanfito and Kelly because both are passionate musicians. 

“We’re rockers,” Kelly said. “We like the AC/DC. Our entire living room is instruments.” 

Kelly sings, plays the piano and has been known to “dabble” on drums.

Nanfito is a drummer and guitarist. 

“The thing about Maricopa is that you never know who’s here,” Nanfito said. 

He was surprised to discover that Melvin Benning, a drummer who has performed with Aretha Franklin with deep Motown roots, calls Maricopa home.

Nanfito studied electrical engineering at Gateway Electronics in Nebraska but decades of working in television and running side businesses helped him develop an array of skills. 

“My focus is on the electrical, but a lot of things cross over,” he said. “I’ve learned to be a very good plumber.” 

After graduating from Gateway in 1983, Nanfito made his way to Hollywood.

“I went to L.A. to be in television,” Nanfito said. “But I worked 14-hour days and spent way too many hours in a car.” 

Even while working in television, Nanfito said he always had businesses on the side. He would repair televisions, do the occasional wedding and invested in a few rental properties. 

“I was basically retired by the age of 42,” he said. 

After Los Angeles, Nanfito moved to Las Vegas.

He sold his house there in 2005 and moved across Lake Mead to the resort town of Meadview.

There, in 2010, he met Kelly and the two moved to Gilbert in 2011. 

Kelly, who had lived in Maricopa previously, said, “We wanted to own a home so we moved to Maricopa.”

Nanfito is the handyman and Kelly schedules appointments, orders parts, processes payments and generally handles the business side of things. 

Or, as she jokes, “I’m the boss.” 

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