East County competitors win silver and bronze plus a Safety Award at 2017 National Craft Championships
By Gayle Falkenthal
Photo, left: ABC San Diego apprentices win medals: ABC San Diego Craft Champions (L to R) Scott Vorarach (Silver and Safety), Eli Anderson, and Rolf Wachter (Bronze) extended the San Diego win streak at the 2017 ABC National Craft Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
March 5, 2017 (San Diego) – Scott Vorarach of Spring Valley representing Certified Air Conditioning in San Diego, and Rolf Wachter of Jamul representing Interpipe Contracting in San Diego will bring medals home to San Diego from the 2017 ABC National Craft Championships.
Vorarach won the Silver Medal in the Sheet Metal competition, and also won a Safety Award. Wachter won a Bronze Medal in the Plumbing competition. The Championships were held at the ABC National Workforce Development Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This prestigious competition brings together the top apprentices and trainees in the country who vie to be named “number one” in each of thirteen trades.
The two medals this year bring San Diego’s total up to 21 medals won by San Diego competitors in 17 years of national competition, including a winning streak of eight straight years.
Also competing on behalf of ABC San Diego was Eli Anderson of La Mesa representing Bergelectric in San Diego in the Electrical competition.
San Diego’s representatives matched their professional skills against the winners of other regional and state competitions around the country. Prior to the competition, each spent several weeks studying and practicing his skills at the ABC Apprenticeship Training Trust lab facilities in Poway. They received guidance and tips from ABCSD’s instructors and previous competitors.
Photo, right: Scott Vorarach wins a Silver Medal and Safety Award in competition this week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Silver Medalist Scott Vorarach is the second straight Silver Medal winner from the same company, Certified Air Conditioning. “Winning or not, knowing I did my best I was content no matter what place I took,” said Vorarach. “During the competition, you have to look ahead, you have to plan your attack on all the goals. I ran into a couple of problems, a fitting I never made before … Thinking on the fly definitely translates to the field. It’s a confidence booster.” Vorarach sought advice from previous winners. “If you’re surrounded by champions, it’s going to rub off,” said Vorarach.
Photo, left: Rolf Wachter concentrates during the Sheel Metal competition in the 2017 National Craft Championships.
Rolf Wachter said he is a competitive person and wanted to participate from the first day he started his apprenticeship training. “It sparked my attention when I first heard about it, and I pursued it,” said Wachter. Wachter admitted the competition was a lot more stressful than he expected, but his preparation paid off. Liked Vorarach, Wachter said the experience makes him a better professional. “A lot of what we did is our every day work. You focus on getting the job done, moving quicker.”
Supporters from ABC San Diego traveled to Florida to support the competitors, including Shandon Harbour, ABC San Diego Training Trust Executive Director; Tracey Barrett, Director of Education for the Apprenticeship Program; Rick Thorpe, Plumbing Committee member; Jason Maclanahan, Sheet Metal Committee member; and a dozen more family members and San Diego industry professionals. “It takes a lot of course and steady nerves to compete in this competition when the clock is ticking and so many people are watching,” said Harbour. “Our competitors know they are carrying the reputation of all their fellow apprentices and our program, and they want to live up to high expectations.”
Harbour says the competition is more than just bragging rights for local apprenticeship programs like in San Diego. “Anyone who competes at the national level is a person willing to put in the time and hard work to achieve excellence. This is the same attitude they have on the job, and what makes them exceptional employees and crafts people every day. It shows in the quality of the projects they work on including public projects like hospitals and military facilities.”
A conference highlight, the ABC National Craft Championships event started in 1987 as a way to recognize the high quality of craft training in construction careers. The competition emphasizes the important role craft skills training plays in construction, by evaluating contestants’ knowledge of their craft as well as their skill and talent.
The first part of the competition features a written test of the competitor’s technical and theoretical knowledge. On day two, apprentices and craft trainees are assigned their workspaces, and given the plans, tools and materials they need to build professional projects. Judges observe and inspect the ongoing work being performed. When time is called, the judges move in for the final inspection. All of this takes place before a live audience. Results are announced in award ceremonies the final day.
To compete in the national event, contestants must first complete hundreds of hours of classroom training and thousands of hours of practical field experience to be eligible for preliminary local competitions.
About ABC San Diego
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national trade association representing 22,000 members from more than 19,000 construction and industry-related firms. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work. The San Diego Chapter of ABC represents construction and construction-related firms throughout San Diego County. To find out more about ABCSD, visit, www.abcsd.org