May 8, 2013
Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
(619) 997-2495 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ABC Apprentice Brings Home Gold from National Competition
Clayton Courter wins Sheet Metal title at 2013 ABC National Craft Championships
Clayton Courter, sheet metal apprentice employed by Southcoast Heating and Air Conditioning, faced off among national finalists from local, regional and state competitions around the country after winning ABC San Diego’s local competition in December. Courter became San Diego’s fourth Gold Medalist, and the 13th medal won by San Diego competitors in 13 years of competition.
Also competing were electrical champion Christopher Sweeney of Rowan Electric, and plumbing champion James Connolly of California Comfort Systems. For the first time ever, the three champions are all North County residents. Courter is from Vista, Sweeney from Escondido, and Connolly from San Marcos.
Courter and his fellow competitors spent several weeks studying and practicing their skills at the ABC Apprenticeship Training Trust lab facilities in Poway. They received guidance and tips from ABCSD’s instructors and previous competitors.
Sherry Yarbrough, ABC Apprenticeship Training Trust Executive Director, was in Birmingham cheering Courter, Connolly, and Sweeney on along with a large San Diego contingent. “The San Diego ABC Apprenticeship Program has a long tradition of national winners having won 13 medals in the last 13 years. With that record comes a lot of pressure on our competitors to keep our win streak going. We are very proud of all of our competitors and especially Clayton for bringing home the Gold for the sheet metal program,” said Yarbrough.
Courter credits the many hours of practice he put in, and his belief in his own abilities. “To give myself the best possible chance I could, I had to remind myself to “play my game.” If that is not enough, so be it.
“When you perform something every day, you know what you need to do. My experience helped me to be efficient… I tried to focus on doing the extras that would help put me over in a tie. It paid off.”
Courter says while he enjoyed the competition and especially meeting new people, the value of his experience translates to being a more skilled construction professional. “The more tools you have, the more versatile and effective you are as a journeyman.”
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. Seasoned apprentices and craft trainees from around the country compete toe-to-toe to determine the top three craftpersons in each trade.
To compete in the national event, contestants must first successfully complete hundreds of hours of classroom training and thousands of hours of practical field experience to be eligible for preliminary local competitions.
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. The results are announced in award ceremonies the following day.
”We have high expectations for our competitors because we have high standards for all the apprentices we train,” said Yarbrough. “Our contractors rely on skilled apprentices as a key part of their workforce and ABC San Diego’s Apprenticeship Trust training program must deliver employees that are well-trained, knowledgeable, and good safety practitioners. It all goes together.”
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.