Apprentice from Western States Conference Wins 2023 Competition
Insulators International Staff — Fri, Oct 6, 2023 @ 10:10 AM
Ten apprentices from across the U.S. and Canada earned the right to represent their Conference in Houston for the highly anticipated 2023 Insulation Industry International Apprentice and Training Fund (IIIATF) Master Apprenticeship Competition (MAC).
The event provided a friendly, but competitive environment, for the apprentices to demonstrate their exceptional talents.
After a written test and multiple days of work on a challenging mock-up designed to test the competitors on a wide variety of mechanical insulation skills, Joel Chavez, a fifth-year apprentice from Local 7 Seattle/Anchorage, who represented the Western States Conference, was named the MAC Champion.
And so it begins
On July 15, the MAC held a written test to gauge the competitors' knowledge of mechanical insulation, before the Local Union Officers meeting or the Joint Apprentice Conference began.
Later that day, the competitors got to see the competition area, which included their first look at the competition mock-up. A portion of the Hilton Americas-Houston Grand Ballroom was transformed into the competition space, as the entire floor was covered and 10 identical workstations were created, along with tools and materials.
It would be another day before competitors would receive the competition specs, but seeing the mock-up and the winner’s trophy cup was an event milestone broadcast live via social media.
Inspired by the host city of Houston and the state of Texas, the mock-up featured intricate elements such as the sweeping horns of a Texas Longhorn, a NASA rocket, and a large capital T.
The competitors returned at 6:30 a.m. the next day to begin – a full day of insulating the various items according to the project specs.
Retired IIIATF Administrator Thomas A. Haun led the proctor team. He was joined by retired Local 14 Philadelphia Instructors John Sullivan and Lew Fitzgerald.
Before they could return for a second day of work, the competitors attended the start of the combined Local Union Officers and Joint Apprenticeship Conference (JAC) meeting, where they were also introduced and greeted with loud applause.
After the meeting, the 10 competitors returned to work to complete the rough-in work before the first round of judging. Finishing work would follow, mostly during the final day of the competition. In total, the group had 22.5 hours to complete the project.
The written test scores were combined with two rounds of judging (rough-in and finish) to decide the winner.
Comprised of training coordinators who did not have an apprentice competing, a judge from each Conference was tasked with evaluating every mock-up.
The judges for 2023 included many industry leaders from Locals all over the country.
2023 MAC Winner kisses the trophy in celebration
On the final night for all three events, the LUO/MAC/JAC dinner commenced with IIIATF Administrator John L. Stahl, who thanked everyone for attending. General President Terrence M. Larkin then welcomed everyone and acknowledged the hard work invested by each competitor, adding that they represent the union’s bright future.
One by one, the 10 competitors were brought forward. Each was presented a commemorative watch before the MAC winner was announced.
Stahl then presented the Thomas A. Haun Cupto Chavez, who followed the tradition established by previous winners and kissed the Cup.
Chavez’s Training Coordinator from Local 7, Brian Kinsman, heaped praise on the winner.
"I am beyond proud of Joel’s work,” he said. “He worked hard all week.”
Local 7 Business Manager Todd Mitchell also commended their apprentice.
"Joel seized the opportunity our International provided and became the best apprentice in North America,” he said.
“Throughout all this, his appreciation of the moment and his family’s future was front and center. Local 7 is proud to have someone of Joel’s caliber as a member.
"The evening continued with dinner and some dancing, as well as opportunities for competitors to take photos and showcase their finished projects.“
Congratulations, Joel, on winning the MAC competition in Houston,” said Western States Conference International Vice President Ricky J. Johnson. “Great job on representing yourself, your Local and the Conference. It is reassuring knowing that you and your fellow competitors are the future of our industry."
Reflecting on the event, Stahl commended all 10 competitors.
"The future of this Union and the industry as a whole is looking bright,” he said. “The amount of talent I saw at the International and Conference levels is really exciting."