March 10, 2020
“It’s definitely the Olympics of our trade,” said Lance Giesbrecht of the Ideal National Championships. “I’m one of the people who live and breathe for that competition. It’s a great thing, they’re bringing life to the trade,” he added. Giesbrecht, who has qualified each time Canadians have been eligible to compete, is the owner of his own electrical contracting business, ELG Electric, operating out of the Goderich area.
Lance ended up 42nd out of 162 professionals, one spot behind fellow Canadian Paul Hannania. Paul and Lance were the only two Canadians to finish in the top 50.
This year’s competition was held once again in Orlando, Florida. Over 55,000 electricians from five countries attempted to qualify for the championship event. Each year the event has expanded the field, going from America, to North America in 2018 and expanding globally to Australia and China in 2019.
As for the competition itself, attending the event multiple years Giesbrecht noticed Ideal Industries really did their due diligence making sure the events were well constructed. “There’s a lot of time spent just making sure you can do these tasks safely, (and in the allotted time) he said, “its amazing.”
“Last year, round one was all T90 and EMT bending work, pulling in stranded conductors into that Conduit. Out of 18 people in my group or event only 3 completed the task– I wasn’t one of them, so I didn’t feel bad,” he said, but at the same time, he noted, “I didn’t feel very positive about it either.”
“This year’s first round task was all BX cable – every event, every competition was changed, they didn’t replay anything or do the same thing twice, which was amazing in my eyes.”
With the larger field Lance said the event was a little more compacted but that wasn’t too much of a concern for him. “I don’t go down with the impression it’s a holiday, I’m there to work. I watch the events, I absorb everything I can, I mingle, I talk with everyone I can, because down there is a wealth of knowledge.”
Giesbrecht approached the event with a work-like attitude and an opportunity for him and the other ELG employees that also attended, to improve how they operate. As he mentioned, from a networking perspective it’s a great opportunity to learn from other professionals in other areas of the trade. But also, from the competition itself. In order to place high in the event, the attention to detail has to be extensive.
“I find that the tasks and what you’re doing is simple, but to do it inside of 55 minutes, do them safely and not overlook anything,” he said, that’s where the challenge is. “It’s been an eye-opener for me and my guys because the stuff you do everyday (the precision you practice, the consistency) you’ll miss down there out of complacency – from not labeling a wire to not cleaning your area as much as possible.”
“So, this year I tried to focus on that more, or read between the lines, if you will. Don’t just go in there and smash this thing out, but to do it right, do it safe and do it as directed,” he said, adding, “treat it like a job – this is a quoted job I need to go out there an do everything as spec’d or I’m not getting paid.
Although, Giesbrecht conceded, “It can’t be business everyday, you’ve got to have some fun in there.” Which is why he decided to use the qualifying process as a team building exercise, competing against one another on the qualifying boards and traveling to qualifying events.
“We started traveling after the competitions, made some good friends at Ideal Industries and my guys had fun with it.”
Lance also took the Ideal board into a local high school and set up a competition among the students
“A lot of kids bunkered down, they enjoyed it,” he said, “I met a lot of good kids. And I plan on doing that again next year because it helps get the trade out there.”
Ultimately, the competition has brought the best out of Giesbrecht as well as his employees. With the attention to detail that is required and required at a fast pace, they began implementing the techniques they used in the competition in their day-to-day work.
“With Nationals I found once you start getting into the qualifying rounds and you’re picking these things apart trying to find the fastest way shy of shortcuts or poor trade practices, its so well-designed you have to complete the task and do it right, so the big thing we got into was double stripping the wires, double bending the wires – I found now I’m doing that on every job, every switch, every receptacle and mount I’m double stripping, double bending the wires and doing it faster. It wasn’t just for the sake of the competition, you take these little tips and tricks with you and now all my guys are using them because it’s easier and saves time.”
“We WILL see you again in 2020, you can count on it!”
The 2020 event will be held in the heart of downtown Nashville,Tennessee. The qualifying process has already begun. You can go HERE for more information.