Apprentices Battle Under the Sun for Craft Championship

Saturday, December 5, 2015


L to R: Plumbing Craft Champion Keegan Donahue; Electrical Craft Champion David Blickenstaff; Sheet Metal Craft Champion Gerardo Diaz.


Gerardo Diaz of South San Diego won in the Sheet Metal category for 2015. Scott Vorarach placed second. Both work for Certified Air Conditioning in San Diego.


 After the competition, a happy Diaz said, “It feels great I’m very relieved. It was very tense until the last moment!” Diaz said he has a lot to do to prepare for national competition in March. “I want to work on everything, I want to have all my bases covered. Anybody’s who’s nice enough to offer advice, I’m going to take it.”


In the Electrical competition, the 2015 winner was David Blickenstaff of Poway, representing Prime Electrical Services in San Marcos. Blickenstaff was third in last year’s competition. Second place went to Douglas Welchons of San Marcos, employed by Rowan Electric; and third place to David Moreno of El Cajon, with Gould Electric.


The 2015 Plumbing champion is Keegan Donahue of La Mesa, representing Pacific Rim Mechanical in San Diego. He was second in 2014. Second place went to Paul Beaudoin of Santee with J Geyer Plumbing, and third place to Rolf Wachter of Jamul, with Interpipe Contracting.


The Craft Championship competition provides a platform showcasing the high quality ABC San Diego Apprenticeship Training Academy program. It puts an emphasis on the important role craft skills training plays in construction by evaluating contestants’ technical knowledge of their craft as well as their skill and talent.


Signing on to participate in the competition is a significant commitment for the apprentices and trainees involved. Contestants must first successfully complete hundreds of hours of classroom training and thousands of hours of practical field experience to be eligible to compete. If competitors score high enough on a written exam during the first stage of competition, they move to the skills portion of the competition to determine the San Diego area champions. Project scores and written test scores are combined to determine the winner.


The competitors must race against the clock to complete a project as close to the specifications provided as possible. They may only use materials they are provided. Judges who are experts in each craft field themselves score each project.


Executive Director Sherry J. Yarbrough said, “The bar is raised every year at this competition. The participants are put under a lot of pressure knowing the San Diego ABC Apprenticeship Program has a long tradition of national championship winners.


“Before they can represent us at the national competition, they’ve got to get past all of their peers who want this honor just as much as they do. It takes guts to put your skills on the line. It all comes down to whoever is willing to put in the hard work it takes to win. This is exactly the same drive it takes to succeed as a construction craft professional in the workplace as well.”


ABC San Diego thanks its 2015 sponsors: Bergelectric, California Comfort Systems, Klein Tools, Milwaukee Tools, DeWalt Tools, Ideal Industries, Ridgid Tools, Greenlee Tools, OneSource Distributors, O’Connor Sales, Home Depot, Stronghold Engineering, San Diego Lighting, Helix Electric, W.R. Robbins, Cacy Electric, Southcoast Heating & Air, Gould Electric, ABM Building Services, Pacific Rim Mechanical, and West Coast Air.


Special thanks to the judges: Dylan Conforth, Mike Dugal and Ray Cullipher, Electrical; Rick Thorpe, Kirk Taylor, and Ryan Daley, Plumbing; and Don Dion, Jerry Van Alfen, and Clayton Courter, Sheet Metal.


About ABC San Diego


Associated Builders and Contractors is a national trade association representing nearly 22,000 merit shop contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers and construction-related professionals in 70 chapters across the United States. The association’s membership includes all specialties within the industry, and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors of construction. ABC is recognized as one of the leading organizations representing America’s business community and the construction industry. Visit ABC San Diego at

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Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA: 619-997-2495 or

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