By Gayle Lynn Falkenthal
By Gayle Lynn Falkenthal
San Diego County’s top construction apprentices in electrical, plumbing, and sheet metal put their skills to the test at the 17th annual Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) San Diego Craft Championship Competition. Winners went head to head with their peers for the right to represent San Diego at the upcoming ABC National Craft Championships next March in Long Beach, California. Competition took place in a daylong event at the ABC Training Academy in Poway on Dec. 2.
Daniel Fortini of Ramona won in the Sheet Metal category for 2017. Fortini placed second last year. He works for Alpha Mechanical. Alberto Ceballos of Poway placed second. He is employed by WH Robbins.
In the Plumbing competition, Brad Benedict of Vista won first place. He works for R&M Plumbing Contractors. Gabriel Avila Cuenca came in second. He lives in Escondido and works for Davis Mechanical. Hasani Fields of Spring Valley placed third. He works for Interpipe Contracting.
The winner of the 2017 Electrical competition is Joshua Stuart of San Marcos. It is the second straight win for his employer, Bergelectric. Placing second Kevin Mizicko of Western Pump. He lives in Spring Valley. Coming in third was Brent Planche of Carlsbad, also employed by Bergelectric.
The top two finishers in each craft comprise ABC San Diego’s national competition team, the largest team ever fielded by ABC San Diego.
Sheet Metal champion Daniel Fortini was working a fast-food job four years ago when he decided he wanted something more for himself and his young family and started his training at ABC. “It changed my life. It’s a career, not a job. I plan on doing this forever,” sai Fortini.
The Craft Championship competition provides a platform showcasing the high quality ABC San Diego Training Academy program. It puts an emphasis on the important role craft skills training plays in construction by evaluating contestants’ technical knowledge of their craft as well as their skill and talent.
ABC San Diego President and CEO Shandon Harbour said, “Because the National Championships are in California, we want to have an especially strong presence. We expanded the opportunity for apprentices to compete on a national level, and they eagerly accepted the challenge, resulting in the most local competitors in many years.
“This event receives strong support from our contractor members, who employ our apprentices, as well as our sponsors and vendors. All of them value the professional pride shown by these competitors, who represent the skilled construction workforce of the future.”
Signing on to participate in the competition is a significant commitment for the apprentices and trainees involved. Contestants must first successfully complete hundreds of hours of classroom training and thousands of hours of practical field experience to be eligible to compete. If competitors score high enough on a written exam during the first stage of competition, they move to the skills portion of the competition to determine the San Diego area champions. Project scores and written test scores are combined to determine the winner.
The competitors must race against the clock to complete a project as close to the specifications provided as possible. They may only use materials they are provided. Judges who are experts in each craft field including previous national craft champions score each project.The six member team will represent San Diego in national competition in 2018.
ABC San Diego thanks this year’s competition sponsors: Bergelectric, HPS Mechanical, Inc., Laser Electric, Interpipe Contracting, Inc., Rowan Electric, Torrey Pines Bank, Alpha Mechanical, Atkinson, Atkinson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, CED Carlsbad, Ickler Electric Corporation, Pacific Rim Mechanical, and Western Pump, Inc.
Participating vendors include Dewalt Tools, Greenlee, Home Depot, Ideal Industries, Klein Tools, and Milwaukee Tools, PCS (Professional Contractor Supply), and San Diego Lighting Association.
About ABC San Diego
Associated Builders and Contractors is a national trade association representing nearly 22,000 merit shop contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers and construction-related professionals in 70 chapters across the United States. The association’s membership includes all specialties within the industry, and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors of construction. ABC is recognized as one of the leading organizations representing America’s business community and the construction industry. Visit ABC San Diego at www.abcsd.org.