PHCC Connect

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association’s (PHCC) Educational Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the national plumbing and HVAC apprentice contests. The contests were held October 2nd & 3rd in Indianapolis, Indiana on the tradeshow floor during the PHCC—National Association’s CONNECT 2019 event. A total of nineteen plumbing and ten HVAC apprentices from Read more

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association’s (PHCC) Educational Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the national plumbing and HVAC apprentice contests. The contests were held October 2nd & 3rd in Indianapolis, Indiana on the tradeshow floor during the PHCC—National Association’s CONNECT 2019 event. A total of nineteen plumbing and ten HVAC apprentices from across the nation took part in the contests.

The HVAC competitors were required to complete a written test, demonstrate proper brazing techniques and perform a hands-on diagnostic on an HVAC package unit, with system errors created by the Foundation’s contractor volunteers for the competition. The competitors also had to perform a pressure and leak test, demonstrate proper refrigerant recovery procedures and the ability to accurately take a variety of instrument readings.

2019 HVAC Apprentice Contest Winner Kyle Robert Dennis

2019 HVAC Apprentice Contest Winner Kyle Robert Dennis with Foundation Chair Craig Lewis and HVAC Contest Committee Chair Scott Balmer

HVAC Apprentice Contest Winners

  • 1st Place: Kyle Robert Dennis, Pipefitters Local 539/Yale Mechanical in Saint Francis, Minn., Sponsored by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).
  • 2nd Place: Nicholas S. Cruz, UA Local 393/Pacific Coast Trane in San Jose, Calif., Sponsored by Emerson.
  • 3rd Place: David Wark, Lee Company in Pulaski, Tenn., Sponsored by Rheem.

The plumbing apprentices were required rough-in a bathroom system. The set-up includes a toilet, sink and shower, complete with supply, waste and vent lines, plus cleanouts and extra features designed to test the contestants’ knowledge and skills. The test set-up includes a variety of pipe materials – cast iron, copper, PVC and PEX, and corresponding joining methods.

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2019 Plumbing Apprentice Contest Winner Christopher Redfern with Foundation Chair Craig Lewis and Plumbing Contest Committee Chair Jim Steinle.

Plumbing Apprentice Contest Winners

  • 1st Place: Christopher Redfern, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 553 in Staunton, Ill., Sponsored by RIDGID.
  • 2nd Place: Mark Morcos, Eastwick College of HoHoKus Trade School in Bushkill, Pa., Sponsored by Tyler Pipe.
  • 3rd Place: Carter M. Hagen, UA, Local 25 in Davenport, IA, Sponsored by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

A dedicated team of contractor volunteers arrived two days before the competitions to assemble the competitor test benches, distribute the materials and supplies and setup the testing areas. They monitor the competitions, evaluate the apprentices’ work and provide constructive feedback on each competitor’s performance following the event.

The contests are made possible by the generous support of several industry sponsors who provide monetary support and in-kind material and tool donations. Sponsors for the 2019 competition include, with headline sponsors appearing in bold: AB&I Foundry; AHRI; A.O. Smith; Bradford White Corp.; BrassCraft Manufacturing Co.; Chemours, Copper Development Association, Inc.; Delta Faucet Co.; Emerson; IAPMO, Kohler Company; Mechanical Hub Media; Milwaukee Tool; North American Technician Excellence (NATE); NIBCO INC.; Oatey; PHCC-National Auxiliary, Reed Manufacturing Co.; Rheem; RIDGID; State Water Heaters; Tyler Pipe & Coupling; Viega, LLC; and Zoeller Pump Company

Milwaukee Tool made a major contribution to the Apprentice Contests this year by donating most of the tools needed by the contestants for the competition. This gift allowed the competitors to skip the trouble of shipping their own tools and to go home with a new set of tools to power their work long after the competition ends.

“I’m proud that we can present this opportunity for the apprentices to show off their skills,” reports Foundation Chair Craig Lewis. “The contests give these participants a chance to get away from home, be a part of a national event and see that how much support all of us in the industry are putting behind their success. It can be the experience of a lifetime. I am so thankful for the sponsors and the hard work put in by our volunteer committee members and staff in pulling it all together in a new exhibit hall every year.”

Every year Mechanical Hub is honored to sponsor a PHCC Plumbing Apprentice Contest contestant. For this year’s PHCC Connect—Oct 2-4, Indianapolis—the Hub is excited to support Jed Christner, Chesapeake, Va. by way of Akron, Ohio. Christner was selected to compete in the PHCC competition by competing locally in Manassas Virginia. “I placed third, but due Read more

Every year Mechanical Hub is honored to sponsor a PHCC Plumbing Apprentice Contest contestant. For this year’s PHCC Connect—Oct 2-4, Indianapolis—the Hub is excited to support Jed Christner, Chesapeake, Va. by way of Akron, Ohio.

Christner was selected to compete in the PHCC competition by competing locally in Manassas Virginia. “I placed third, but due to unfortunate events, the winner could not make it; I was asked to represent the state of Virginia in nationals,” says Christner.

PHCC Apprentice Contestant Jed Christner, PHCC, PHCC CONNECT, plumbing, plumbing apprentice, skilled trades, HVAC, JRC MechanicalChristner is eager to go to PHCC CONNECT so he can learn from his peers to find better ways to possibly make the job easier, and to make great friends. “It also gives me a sense of excitement to compete against my peers, show and prove my own talents, which I have learned over the years from many plumbing mechanics, especially my teacher from VOTECH, Tony Bertolino,” says Christner.

Getting Started

Christner says he got started in the industry in a kind of a “non-typical” way. He transferred duty stations from Japan to Virginia Beach while in the Navy. Yet, after serving active duty in the Navy for almost 10 years, Christner was medically discharged.

Christner started a job driving a tow truck in Virginia Beach and, at the time, his neighbor was a plumbing manager for a company. “He asked me if I wanted better money and a way to earn a career. I didn’t ask any questions and said yes.”

Early on, “I rode with him in the morning to the office and he dropped me off at a job site and handed me a box of insulation and told me to get at it,” says Christner, “I picked it up naturally. Billy Batten became my mentor and I strived to be better than him, which probably will never happen, but it’s my own personal goal,” says Christner.

PHCC Apprentice Contestant Jed Christner, PHCC, PHCC CONNECT, plumbing, plumbing apprentice, skilled trades, HVAC, JRC MechanicalChristner is currently employed by JRC Mechanical, Chesapeake, Va., and works in the new construction division, which means he does everything from digging trenches to installing underground sanitary, storm, grease interceptor and water lines for new buildings. He installs above-ground domestic water, sanitary and mechanical piping systems for large commercial construction projects ranging from a few thousand to a few million dollars. He is also a plumbing supervisor/foreman.

In his spare time, Christner is an avid outdoorsman and he loves to hunt. “If I’m not hunting then I’m usually fishing or doing something outdoors. I also enjoy traveling with my wife and visiting new places or countries once a year,” says Christner.

Talking up the Trade

Plumbing trade highlights for Christner? He says he takes great pride in his work, especially after seeing the final product of his labor; The crew he works with; seeing different ways of performing the same task with the same end result; and learning every day.

When asked about any drawbacks, Christner says he doesn’t look at anything really as a drawback. “I look at them as a learning experience. The only and best way is to learn from your mistakes. Every day is a great day to be a plumber because we make money at being awesome!”

When giving advice to anyone contemplating the plumbing trade, or any trade at that, Christner says don’t question it and just pursue it. “Other than getting a big fancy diploma or degree, it is a great way to earn an amazing living while having fun. Just remember, everyone has to start at the bottom wherever you go. If you stick it out and prove your worth, you will go far and create a lifestyle that others will look up to and appreciate.”

Mechanical hub is proud to support and sponsor another apprentice in the annual PHCC CONNECT national plumbing apprenticeship contest in Milwaukee, Wis. Just weeks away from testing for his Journeyman’s license, apprentice plumber Joe Pilachowski has worked four years at Midwestern Mechanical, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D., a commercial plumbing and heating, fire protection, HVAC and Read more

Mechanical hub is proud to support and sponsor another apprentice in the annual PHCC CONNECT national plumbing apprenticeship contest in Milwaukee, Wis. Just weeks away from testing for his Journeyman’s license, apprentice plumber Joe Pilachowski has worked four years at Midwestern Mechanical, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D., a commercial plumbing and heating, fire protection, HVAC and service company with four locations that spans two states: Sioux Falls, S.D.; Rapid City, S.D.; Spencer, Iowa; and Sioux City, Iowa.


After high school Joe was working two jobs, one in a hospital kitchen, and also as a loader for UPS. It just so happened that Midwestern Mechanical had in-house plumbers at the hospital; he talked with a few of them about their job and the kind of training needed to become successful.

Pilachowski contemplated the idea and then talked to a co-worker at UPS, who happened to be the daughter of then VP of Midwestern Mechanical, and decided to apply. “I chose plumbing because I always knew I would end up working a manual labor job, and I had been hunting for one for quite awhile before I applied. I looked into trade schools that I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford, and when I found out I could be paid to learn the trade rather than paying for it, I jumped right in,” says Pilachowski.

Pilachowski enjoys learning new things and the challenge of the plumbing trade, as well as the rapidly changing workplace. “I go to work in the morning knowing that I’ll have to figure out solutions to problems, and that those problems will not be the same everyday. I’m fortunate enough to work on smaller more specialized projects for Midwest Mechanical. It keeps me sharp and always allows me to experience and learn new things everyday,” says Pilachowski.

Entering the national apprenticeship contest in Milwaukee is important to Pilachowski to prove he hasn’t wasted the past four years of his life learning a trade, and winning the state PHCC competition proved that. Moving onto the national PHCC creates validation and helps not only prove to his foreman and his company, but to himself that he hasn’t wasted anyone’s time.

“I’ve worked hard these four years going to classes—even the extra training that was not required—to be the best at my trade that I could be. I applied myself to make myself better at a career I enjoy and now I can try my skills against others like me who strive to have excellence in all the work they do,” says Pilachowski.

Oh yeah, the only downside of the trade that Pilachowski sees? As any fellow plumber can attest—the smells and waste. “I don’t have a weak stomach, but no one likes having to cut into a live sewer line, or replace a used sewage ejection pump. It’s gross,” says Pilachowski.

But for those who are willing to put the time in to be successful in plumbing, Pilachowski says go for it. That’s been his mantra for anyone considering the trades, “Just jump into it, listen to the ones teaching you, and work hard at learning everything you can.”

 

  With a program chock full of heavy hitting seminars, a straight-from-the-heart keynote and a trade show floor that featured some of the newest products and services, it was the plumbing apprenticeship contest that turned heads at this year’s PHCC-National Association’s Connect show in Hollywood, Fla. Some of the future’s brightest competed for bragging rights—and Read more

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With a program chock full of heavy hitting seminars, a straight-from-the-heart keynote and a trade show floor that featured some of the newest products and services, it was the plumbing apprenticeship contest that turned heads at this year’s PHCC-National Association’s Connect show in Hollywood, Fla.

Some of the future’s brightest competed for bragging rights—and a ginormous set of tools—while only three could stake a claim at the winnings. Three top plumbing apprentices received awards in the annual Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors–National Association (PHCC) Educational Foundation’s National Plumbing Apprentice Contest.

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The Foundation’s Plumbing Apprentice and Journeyman Training Committee members were on hand to set up and judge the contest, which was a highlight of the PHCC–National Association’s CONNECT 2015 Product & Technology Showcase.

This year’s awards went to:

PlumbingContestWinnerJames Petersonjt copy

James Peterson

  • 1st Place – James Peterson, John J. Maurer, Inc., Cataumet, Mass. – sponsored by A. O. Smith
  • 2nd Place – Jared Beninati, Evan Hibbs Plumbing, Portsmouth, Va. – sponsored by Milwaukee Tool
  • 3rd Place – David Spaeth, Harty Mechanical, Austin, Minn. – sponsored by Uponor

Foundation volunteers operating this year’s event included:

 

  • Bob Carpenter, SharkBite/Cash Acme, Reliance Worldwide Corp., Atlanta, Ga.
  • J. Daniel Crigler, III, L & D Associates, Inc., Aroda, Va.
  • Tom Gent, France Mechanical Corp., Edwardsville, Ill.
  • Victor Hatcher, Tyler Pipe & Coupling, Tyler, Tex.
  • Andrew Kireta, Jr., Copper Development Association, New York, N.Y.
  • Harold Moret, Copper Development Association, Sarasota, Fla.
  • Vic Poma, Universal Plumbing & Heating Co., Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Patrick Sheridan, SharkBite/Cash Acme, Reliance Worldwide Corp., Atlanta, Ga.
  • Jim Steinle, Atomic Plumbing, Virginia Beach, Va.
  • James Walls, Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute, Garland, Tex.
  • Luke Westman, Westman Plumbing, Inc., Aitkin, Minn.

The CONNECT Show

IMG_0219The Show’s keynote was an authentic, gripping story of a bartender done good. Doc Hendley’s epiphany about bringing people together at the local “watering hole” gave him a brand new mission in life to provide clean water to some of the worst places on the planet — security and sanitation-wise. His wine to water organization has put a spotlight on the need for clean water and has him nominated as one of CNN’s Heroes.

The trade show floor featured some of the best products and services out there — from plumbing and heating services to fleet and service management software.

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Dan Lucy, Rothenberger, shows off the Kibosh emergency temporary pipe repair product at the National PHCC Show.

 

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The boys from Bradford White enjoy a laugh with a contractor during the show.

 

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After four months and hundreds of stops across the country, the Avalanche Performance Tour came to an end. Gerber announced that Wade Sammons, Sammons Plumbing, Oshkosh, Wis., won the grand prize of a Harley-Davidson Fat Bob motorcycle.

 

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Speaking of giveaways, the Hub and industry friend Milwaukee Tool partnered to give four lucky winners a set of four hand tools. The Hub’s Eric Aune gives the thumbs up with with on the winners.