A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

2018 ABC Careers in Construction Awards Ceremony

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Convention and 2018 National Craft Championships (NCC) in Long Beach, California last March concluded with the ABC Careers in Construction Awards Ceremony.  The host and emcee of the evening was Greg Spenner, President and CEO of ABC Iowa Chapter.  Spenner kicked off the program with these words:

“We had 171 competitors from 28 states vying for medals in the National Craft Championships.  We had outstanding finalists for Craft Instructor of the Year and for Craft Professional of the Year.  All of the schools’ craft trainees and finalists, instructors, and field professionals should be proud of their accomplishments.  These competitors came from all across the country.  They truly represent the future of our industry.  They are the ones who will carry the merit shop philosophy into the future, and I am willing to bet that we will see these folks winning Excellence in Construction awards down the road for building the best and safest construction projects based on what we saw from all of these competitors this week.  The future of ABC looks very bright!  To all of our competitors sitting out there this evening: the ABC family is truly honored to count you among our ranks.”

The program continued with an invocation given by Mitch Clark, NCC Chair and HVAC Project Manager.  Following the prayer, Shon Smith, NCC Vice Chair and Sheet Metal Project Manager, led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Spenner next announced that the winners of the NCC competitions would each receive two tickets to the July 3, 2018 Washington Nationals baseball game where a “patriotic celebration of America’s greatness” would include honoring the NCC medal winners on the field before the game.  A video of this amazing event in 2017 was shown, which you may watch below:

Video courtesy Associated Builders and Contractors

Next to the stage came Katrina Kersch, COO of NCCER; Jennifer Wilkerson, Director of Marketing at NCCER; and Greg Sizemore, VP of EH&S and Workforce Development for ABC National.  They were there to present the award to the Craft Instructor of the Year.  Each year ABC companies and chapters nominate candidates for this national award.  Each finalist was to receive $1,000, and the winner was to receive $5,000 from NCCER.  In addition, the winner would also receive $5,000 from ABC’s Trimmer Construction Education Fund.  Each of the five finalists was introduced through a short video presentation before the winner was announced.  The finalists were all invited to the stage for the announcement of the winner: ABC Greater Houston Chapter’s William Fuller!

In the video, Fuller answered the question “What legacy do you hope to leave?” with the following: “If you took a class with ‘Uncle Will,’ you could have paid less, but you could have never got more.”

A video produced by NCCER’s Build Your Future initiative motivated the crowd, saying:

“History is made by those who not only dream but achieve, and in today’s America, it is not enough to dream about the future.  You have to build it.”

The presentation of the finalists for the Craft Professional of the Year generated quite a bit of excitement, since the award for the winner, sponsored by Tradesmen International, included a Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab pickup truck along with up to $10,000 worth of upgrades provided by FCA!  From the four finalists who each had great résumés of credentials, awards, and community service, the winner was Richard Brown of Gaylor Electric, Inc from the ABC Indiana/Kentucky Chapter.

In the video presentation containing excerpts from the finalists’ interviews, Brown’s enthusiastic answer to “How would you encourage the next generation to choose a career in the construction industry?” was:

“I would say, ‘Get on board!  Jump in!  Get in!  Get trained!  Get a dream!  Get a goal!  Get a drive!’  This is somewhere where you can advance to become the person you want to be.”

Next, Greg Sizemore and Tommy MacCabe of Balfour Beatty Construction, one of the co-chairs of the Construction Management Competition Committee, presented the awards for that competition, in which teams of college students managed a mock project to modernize an active middle school campus.

At last it was time for the announcements of the winners in each of 14 categories of the National Craft Championships.  Mitch Clark spoke about what the 171 craft trainees and apprentices who had competed had been through over the past few days:

“Many have already competed at a local level, and almost all of them are far, far from home.  Once they are here, the pressure does not let up.  They spent hours preparing only to come here to Long Beach to face an intense comprehensive written exam and a grueling hands-on practical exam while remaining focused on safety at every step of the way.  That’s why they are National Craft Champions: because each and every one of these competitors showed up to prove that they are the best our industry has to offer.  No one who watched them this week would dispute that fact.”

Each of the competitors was called to the stage by category where they were greeted by George R. Nash, Jr, 2018 ABC National Chair; Mitch Clark; Mike Stilley, NCC Safety Manager; and Greg Spenner.  Winners were then announced in each category for Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Safety awards.  (A complete list of these winners is attached below.)

The evening neared its conclusion with a few final words from Greg Spenner to the competitors:

“Whether or not you are going home with a medal tonight, each and every one of you can be proud of the effort that you put forth and that you are a part of an elite group of individuals – a group of champions.  What you did here this week is a huge accomplishment, and this is just the beginning for you.  It is a badge of honor you will carry with you throughout everything you do and to every jobsite that you step foot [on].  I look out at you all, and I see not only craft trainees dedicated to excellence in their crafts: I see the next generation of leaders at ABC, the next generation of craft instructors, and the next generation of construction company owners – I can’t wait to see what you accomplish!”

Greg Sizemore had the final words of the evening.  He acknowledged the support given to the competitors by parents, children, spouses, and friends.  He also reminded the competitors to remember to do everything to the best of their abilities, to take advantage of every opportunity they receive, and to always expand their networks.  He said that this week had been an opportunity to connect, collaborate, and celebrate.  He advised everyone that it is all right to be second to family, friends, and employers – to remember “we don’t always have to win. … I learned the most valuable lesson of my life the day that I realized that it wasn’t as much about me as it was about everybody else in this world.”

With heads full of inspiration and hearts full of pride, the competitors paused after the ceremony for photos with their families, friends, and mentors.


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