November 8, 2022
By Blake Marchand
Hosted by HGTV’s Chip Wade, the Seventh Elite Trades IDEAL National Championships wrapped up this Sunday in Tampa, Florida with top apprentices and pros taking home a just under $200,000 in prize money. The Canadian contingent fell short of the podium but put forth an impressive effort, as 6 of 11 Canadians made it through to the second round and two more made it through to the Semi-Finals.
Master Electrician Lance Giesbrecht, owner and operated of ELG Electric out of Goderich, ON and David Collier, an Apprentice out of Edmonton, AB were the top Canadian Competitors, each making it through to the Semi-Finals and competing in the surprise team competition. They were the first Canadian competitors to make it that far in the event.
Giesbrecht competed in the team event alongside Wyatt Allen from Anchorage, Alaska, and Collier was paired up with Oscar Perez from St. Charles, Illinois.
There were 72 pros and 74 apprentices competing. 30 of each made it to round two, from there 10 made it to the Semis, and five to the finals. The 10 remaining Semi-Finalists were randomly paired up into pro and apprentice teams.
Four Canadian apprentices made it into the second round, David Collier along with Rabei Daoud, Nathan Hart, and Ethan Hewitt. Giesbrecht and Todd Fraser made it through on the pro side.
Collier apprentices under Fraser, and Giesbrecht had three members of his ELG team, Journeyperson Tyler Johnston and Apprentice Riley Dewater, along with former apprentice Ethan Hewitt.
Giesbrecht is a veteran of the competition and by all accounts bleeds IDEAL blue. The qualifying challenge has become a team bonding exercise for his company, he’ll purchase a couple competition boards every year and have his crew compete against each other in downtime or after hours at the shop. As well as traveling together to different qualifying events held at IDEAL’s distributor partners.
Despite the competitive nature of all the electricians at the event, the overall atmosphere is about comradery and good-natured competition. Giesbrecht, in the middle of the second round competition, for example, ran over a sawzall to another competitor who had a battery die mid-competition. The Canadian group was close-knit, all pulling for one another. But a lot of friends were made at the event with the electricians and apprentices from across the U.S., everyone was cheering each other on. Letting one another know how much time they had, if you were missing a step, in need of material, or tools, someone one was there to call it out and get them what they needed.
Another major take-away was all the work that went in behind the scenes and the comradery of the IDEAL teams from either side of the boarder. The competitors’ carts and materials had to be turned over and reset after every round and the IDEAL time operated like a well-oiled pit crew, easily racking up 20-30,000 steps a day ensuring each competitor had what they needed so that the playing field was fair and balanced.
The human element of the competition can’t be overlooked, a lot of work went into putting on the event from the IDEAL team as well as for the competitors. It was great to see the industry come together and celebrate one another.
The only negative that came out of the event was an unfortunate injury to Rabei Daoud, who cut his finger and was rushed to the hospital for 10 stitches. Luckily, he was able to return to the event the following day in good spirits to cheer on the remaining competitors.
Another bright spot was 19-year-old apprentice, Emma Becker who was the first women to make it through to the Finals. Emma became a fan favourite, displaying a deliberate and methodical work ethic.
Jordan Finfrock was the Apprentice Champion and Tom Kennedy took home the Professional title. Three-time Nationals Champion Greg Anliker finished second and Josh Tower finished third for the Professional side. Last year’s Champion Anthony Kovalchick also made it to the Final. On the Apprentice side Elliot Phillips and Luis Sanchez finished second and third. For the team competition Seth Agnew & Justin Frick won the team competition and Alec Perkins & Thomas Ladd finished second.
An overarching theme for the competition was renewables and green technology. Each stage of the competition was building towards a residential home with an EV charger and Solar panel installation. There were other aspects as well, the Apprentice Final was a hot tub installation and the Team competition was an industrial panel installation, which featured a new intelligent instructions app from Siemens.
All of the panels and the EV chargers were donated by Siemens for the event and will be donated, along with the electrical components, to the Independent Electrical Contractors Florida West Coast Chapter Apprenticeship program.
We’ll continue our coverage of the event from the Canadian perspective in upcoming issues to share a little more about the experience of the competitors.