Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

Dec 17, 2018

IdealBy Owen Hurst

The sound of holes being augured and cables pulled, conduit rattling off the ground as it was bent and cut, and the uproarious cheers of the crowds filled the arena from December 1-3 in Orlando, Florida for the Third Annual Ideal National Skills Competition. The competition brought together some of the best electricians from across North America, and with host Chip Wayde driving the show, it was truly an action-packed event.

This marked the first Ideal National Championship that had been extended to Canadian competitors, who did us proud with their showing in Orlando. Canada sent two professional champions, two apprentice/students and one professional and one apprentice team.

Those representatives were:

• Fastest Professional Electrician, Canada East — Lance Giesbrecht, ELG Electric, Goderich, ON 
• Fastest Professional Electrician, Canada West — Paul Hannania, Panel Upgrade Experts, Calgary, AB 
• Fastest Apprentice/Student, Canada East — Zach Agombar, ELG Electric, Goderich, ON 
• Fastest Apprentice/Student, Canada West — Mateo Berrio, NAIT, Edmonton, AB 
• Fastest Team, Professional — Matt Melanson, Brett Castein, and Jordan Pratt, Elko Electric, London, ON
• Fastest Team, Apprentice/Student — Branden Bean, Tyler Johnston, and Zach Agombar, ELG Electric, Goderich, ON

This was a great achievement for these electricians, who walked onto the floor with numerous electricians and competed in events that were designed to NEC standards.
But don’t get me wrong, this did not slow their progress or daunt these elite professionals and apprentices, they represented us well and I can say as a Canadian spectator to the event, I was incredibly proud of their showing.

In all, nearly 40,000 electricians across North America took part in local timed competitions organized by Ideal Industries. From these 40,000, a professional representative and apprentice was selected from each state and one from both Western and Eastern Canada based on their times. Discussion continues on expanding the Canadian contingent to include provincial champions.

The championship itself was an electrical trade skills competition that has no comparison. The feel was more of a sporting event with the tradesmen treated like competing athletes, and the atmosphere confirmed it. With many bringing their families, including numerous children all with signs to support their competing parent. The atmosphere of excitement rarely subsided for two straight, albeit long days of competing.

The events focused on a wide variety of electrical skills that challenged all of the competitors, including wiring numerous switched and outlets, installing breakers, bending and installing conduit all on predesigned walls and miniature framed rooms.

Competition aside, there was an amazing sense of camaraderie among the competitors, who consistently cheered each other on, despite competing for the same prize. Beyond that there was a substantial amount of discussion among electricians regarding code differences, and direct tool design discussions between professionals and Ideal influencers. It was interesting to witness the difference in methods used by Canadians accustomed the CEC and Americans considering the NEC. Also interesting was the different methods.
It was these differences, and the fact that not all electricians work daily in each area, that made the competition even more exciting. Lance Giesbracht noted that it was a bit of a slow down for him when undertaking conduit bends that are not part of his daily operations (although it looked pretty clean when he was done!). Paul Hannania, who made it into the second round, noted that it is not always easy working with new tools that may not always work exactly as expected, and Mateo Berrio couldn’t help but identify the nerves of working in front of a big crowd, not to mention TV camera crews circling the electricians as they worked.

All said and done the north was represented well and proudly, Lance was sure to make our presence known with his boisterous “We the North” cheer as Paul completed his Round 2 tasks. We are certainly looking forward to next year’s competition and another strong showing from Canadian Electricians.

Owen Hurst is Managing Editor of Panel Builder & Systems Integrator; owenhurst@kerrwil.com

 

 

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