Meet the Twin Cities Fastest Ikea Furniture Assembler

Many people like to buy furniture from Ikea because it is stylish, functional, and affordable. The only problem is that the purchase is usually ready to assemble.

The task of transforming a well-packaged, cardboard-sheathed plate of parts and hardware into a six-drawer dresser or daybed with storage space often involves spending hours sitting on the floor trying to decipher diagrams in a textbook. of wordless instructions while your spouse is saying, “Not that round thing, the other round thing.”

It’s around this time – for the sake of your marriage and your sanity – that you might want to call someone like Molly McGee, a freelance master furniture assembler.

The Minneapolis resident’s motto might be “Have an Allen wrench, will travel”. Over the past year, McGee has made a living in the odd-job economy traveling to people’s homes to assemble Ikea furniture.

After hundreds of assembly jobs on desks, beds, dressers, shelving and closet organizers sold by the Swedish home goods retailer, McGee may not even need to read the instructions.

“I can do this in my sleep,” she said of the Swedish retailer Malm two-drawer dresser. “I am entering this state of flux.”

McGee, 32, built furniture for college kids in new apartments and seniors in condominiums, for immigrant and refugee families as well as for commuters in multi-million dollar homes. Apparently, the love for Swedish design is as universal as the angst of assembly.

“My greatest convenience is to avoid conflict, anger and frustration,” McGee said.

His business started during the pandemic, when many people started setting up home offices or imagining home improvement projects.

“I stayed constantly busy,” McGee said. “The ability to outsource your time is something that people take advantage of. “

It was also COVID-19 that drove McGee in her job as a handyman.

In the spring of 2020, she was fired from her work as a design associate at Room & Board. She was looking for work when she helped her parents move into a retirement condo in Florida. Her father, who noticed how good she was at putting together their new Ikea furniture, said she could do it for a living.

He was joking, but McGee decided to take his advice by going to TaskRabbit, an online business that connects freelancers with consumers looking to hire for day-to-day tasks, from lawn care and errands to painting and DIY services.

It turns out that furniture assembly is one of the most requested jobs on TaskRabbit, especially after Ikea acquired the company in 2017 and started promoting the service to its customers.

McGee estimates that she has done over 200 jobs and built around 500 Ikea pieces of furniture.

“I did entire studios,” she said.

In search of novelty

After more than a year, she is grateful to customers who hire her to make products she has never tried before. And although she has found another part-time job, building furniture still accounts for a good chunk of her income.

TaskRabbit “jobs” set their hourly rates when they bid on a job. McGee charged $ 33 to $ 35 an hour to assemble furniture. (TaskRabbit adds 15% more to the cost for clients, but McGee also takes on jobs independently. She can be reached at [email protected])

Due to her experience and high ratings from her customers, TaskRabbit has awarded McGee an “Elite Tasker” badge.

“Efficiency is one of my most valued qualities,” said McGee. “,

She comes to the job with a tool kit that includes gloves, cordless drill, hammer, utility knife, pliers, spares and hardware if furniture needs to be wall-mounted.

When Karen Stankevitz of Hudson, Wisconsin purchased a $ 2,000 closet organization system, she realized she needed help.

“I had a spouse put [Ikea furniture] together and it never went very well, “Stankevitz said.” I’m not very good at it and neither is my husband. “

She hired McGee after challenging her own assumptions that she should hire a man for the job.

“It’s an internal bias: it’s a big box, you need a big guy,” Stankevitz said. McGee did “such a fantastic job” that she became “Stankevitz’s handyman”.

Deborah Silver of Berkeley, Calif., Hired McGee to assemble Ikea furniture for her daughter, who moved into an apartment in Minneapolis in August as a student at the University of Minnesota.

Silver had enough to do to get her daughter ready for school without spending hours trying to put together furniture.

“I can’t handle the stress, the frustration, doing it badly and having to take it all apart,” Silver said. “It’s not a quality way to spend time with my daughter.”

She also said she felt more secure hiring a woman for the job.

A hand

McGee will accept assembly jobs for furniture made by other companies, but she loves Ikea products. She owns Ikea furniture herself. She carries spare parts when she works, but rarely encounters an Ikea kit that is lacking in materials.

“They really have a science of it,” she said. “I think they have some really nice things.”

That said, she could make some improvements to the Ikea instruction manuals to include better warnings for critical but easy-to-make missteps.

“You made a mistake once and you have to go back 15 steps,” she said.

McGee, a college dropout who has rebounded into other jobs, thinks she may have found a long-term career as a rental furniture builder.

“It suits me because it’s creative,” she said. “I really felt responsible for my success.”

She would eventually like to create a business to help seniors reduce their furniture so that they can move into a retirement home or assisted living facility.

“I am aware of the social privacy of going into someone’s house and building something,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s about helping people.”

An Ikea furniture assembly showdown – me versus Molly McGee.

It’s not that I don’t have any experience in assembling Ikea furniture.

I probably have about a dozen pieces in my house that I have bought from the Swedish furniture company over the years and have successfully put together.

But when it came to challenging Minneapolis-based independent furniture builder Molly McGee in a race to test her speed, I didn’t stand a chance.

As we each assembled Ikea’s two-drawer dresser from her popular Malm line, McGee got a head start in the beginning, carefully cutting a lid from her flat cardboard wrap with a utility knife while I opened my box with my bare hands.

She found the hardware bag and emptied it into a tray that she carries in her tool kit to keep small parts organized and accessible. Clever.

McGee has built this particular room a dozen or more times, so she didn’t have to look at the instructions before she started building. But I knew from experience that you can’t just fly. If you don’t follow the directions, you might end up with a bunch of boards that won’t fit together.

So, while McGee was busy building, I was trying to decipher the wordless diagrams that Ikee includes in his furniture kits.

McGee actually strayed from the instructions, building the dresser drawers first (a professional move that she says helps clear out a lot of parts at first).

She also used a 12 volt cordless drill, which left me and my manual screwdriver in the dust. She was also ready with a hammer, gloves and spare parts.

The result: McGee put away his tools in 19 minutes. I was still at step 7 of 21.

“You did a great job,” she said, evaluating my incomplete cabinet.

She estimated that by working at my own pace, it would probably take me another 45 minutes to complete the chest.

I let her finish the job instead. It took him about 10 minutes.

Richard Chin • 612-673-1775

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