12/10/2015 7:10 AM
This year, Starcon and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Illinois teamed up for the first time at the new Starcon office/training facility in New Lenox to hold the region's annual Craft Olympics. Participants included apprentices from the ABC training classes, and other Starcon apprentices from the North Region that are enrolled in onsite training classes.
Starcon's Craft Training Manager Kelly McIntosh and Logistics Shop Manager Brian Ohlendorf joined ABC IL Education & Safety Marketing Director Brittany Dowell to coordinate space, which allowed the event to take place in the warehouse despite the challenges of tool trailers coming in and out for turn-arounds.
The day’s events kicked off with some encouraging words from Starcon General Manager Brett Richardson, and inspirational speaker Ray McElroy, who is a retired NFL player and current team chaplin for the Chicago Bears. Ray is actively involved with speaking to men and women of all ages at colleges, high schools, major corporations and ABC events. At the Craft Olympics, he focused on the importance of our next generation of skilled craftspeople, and also spoke on the topic of achieving personal and professional goals - a message that he is known for delivering in a unique and memorable way.
The Olympics saw a great turnout of 18 competitors: three in pipe welding, three in pipe fitting, four in structural welding, four in insulation, and four in electrical. The winners earned a trip to Florida to compete in the National Craft Championships in March of 2016.
The craft Olympics and National Craft Championships are a great way to evaluate the skills that the Starcon training department brings to the table at a national level. The company-sponsored trip to Florida gives the apprentices more incentive to excel in training, to spread the word about Starcon's outstanding training programs, to encourage other TMs to participate in training, and to help inspire apprentices to reach their highest potential skill set for a career with Starcon.
All of the competitors displayed great safety and craftsmanship skills while completing their projects. The statements made by competitors included, "It was harder than we thought,” and "It seemed like the clock was going fast.” In addition to the thrill of competing in the local event, the Illinois Craft Olympics is seen as great practice and preparation for the national event in which hundreds of spectators will be watching.
At the end of the six hour run, the winners were Jose Martinez/Structural Welder, Chad Cryder/Pipe Welder, Keith Phelan/Pipe Fitter, and Dencil Coleman/Insulation. The highest second place score also earned a trip to Florida. That prize went to Eric John/Insulation.
Special Thanks to: Welding Instructor Antonio Guzman, Pipe Fitting Instructor Richard Smuksta, Insulation Setup and Master Trainer Kelly Sexton, and Workforce Development Training Manager Troy Copeland. Also, hats off to the project managers that made the sacrifices to allow team members to be off site for the day. And a tip of the cap to Crane and Rigging Manager Richard Jones for the awesome barbecue, as well as a thank you to the entire staff that pitched in along the way to help make the event possible.
With the great success of this year’s Olympics, we look forward to an even better event next year.
Good luck to the team members heading to Florida in March!