Western States Conference holds virtual Apprentice Competition

Before the travel restrictions were implemented in early 2020, the Western States Conference Master Apprentice Competition (MAC) was one of the last in-person events held in our union.

Now, with the same desire to show off skills and highlight the best apprentices in the Conference, Western States Conference International Vice President Melvin L. Breshears led the first virtual MAC competition for his conference.

Traditionally the event is held in conjunction with the Conference’s Local Union meeting. During the competition, the apprentices have their mockups judged and viewed by the Conference leadership.

Under the current restrictions, the next best thing was to let the apprentices work on a mockup, but without judging. To help gain exposure to display the great work of these elite apprentices, the event was live streamed across four time zones.

“The fact that you guys are willing to be adaptable and try to overcome the situation and move forward with this really speaks to your commitment to the Western States Conference and the Insulators Union,” said Breshears in his opening remarks.

The live stream was shared on the /InsulatorsUnion Facebook page. Anyone who did not watch the event live can go to the Facebook page and watch it as a video.

“During my tenure as the Western States Conference International Vice President, I was able to see our Local Unions improve once they had the opportunity to see the other Apprenticeship Programs,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Douglas N. Gamble. “I congratulate all of the apprentices, instructors and apprenticeship coordinators who worked behind the scenes to make the competition happen.”


Local 5 in Los Angeles was represented by fourth-year apprentice Isaac Lepe and Training Coordinator Lupe Moreno. Brother Lepe enjoys golfing and going to the beach when he is not working.

In San Francisco, fifth-year Local 16 apprentice Daniel Adostino and Training Coordinator Billy Hodges represented the Local. Brother Adostino is a recently engaged father, and his family is the driving force behind his acceleration in the trade.

Local 28 in Denver was represented by fourth-year apprentice Sam Gilmore and Training Coordinator Tony Abeyta. Brother Gilmore is a fourth generation Insulator following in his great-great grandfather’s steps into the trade.

Portland Local 36 was represented by fourth-year apprentice Joel Hendrickson and Training Coordinator Dave Gamble. Brother Hendrickson joined the trade to follow in the footsteps of his wife, who has a successful career as a firestopper with Local 36.

In Salt Lake City, Local 69 was represented by third-year apprentice Trey Welch and Training Coordinator Rob Cochran. Brother Welch is from Boise and was recently married.

Local 73 in Phoenix was represented by fifth-year apprentice Rudy Gonzalez and Training Coordinator Tony Gaskill. Brother Gonzalez earned the recognition of Apprentice of the Year, so he was able to become a mechanic six months early. He continues to strive for greatness and to provide for his three kids.

Fourth-year apprentice Hamp Vandever, III and Training Coordinator Jeremie Overson represented Local 76 in Albuquerque. Brother Vandever will become a mechanic next year and is proud to coach his son’s sports teams in his spare time.

In Spokane, Local 82 was represented by fourth-year apprentice Mason Schutt and Training Coordinator Andrew Richmond. In his free time, Brother Schutt likes to snowmobile and snowboard.

Local 132 in Honolulu was represented by fourth-year apprentice Julien Punzalan and Training Coordinator Bernard Alvarez. Due to the time difference, Brother Punzalan started working before the sun was up and at the beginning of the competition, roosters were heard crowing in the background.

Las Vegas fifth-year apprentice Carlos Perez and Training Coordinator Jon Yunker represented Local 135. While Brother Perez officially competed, he was joined by his other fifth-year classmates, who worked on the mockup during the competition time. The Local 135 fifth-year apprentices included Paul Abatie, Mike Rosario, Keith Johnson and Adam Kuykendall.

Western States Conference holds  virtual Apprentice Competition


Though there was no formal judging and thus no winner of the competition, the participation of the Local Unions and the involvement from this group of apprentices will go down in history as the first virtual, streamed Conference event for the entire Union.

Congratulations to all Local Unions and apprentices who participated.

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