Ideal Electrical, Sycamore, Ill., is celebrating the future of electricity—by investing in the youngest and brightest new electricians. The company, which has served the electrical industry for more than 100 years, sponsored the Ideal Electrical National Championship on Friday, Oct. 27 at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla. Apprentices first participated in rough-in electrical wiring challenges at regional tradeshows around the country, and 10 competitors went to Tampa for the final round.
The first-place winner, Jose Renteria of Elk River, Minn., took home $40,000. The second- and third-place winners, Dino Gualandri of LaSalle, Ill., and Devin Slifer of Greenup, Ky., received $20,000 and $10,000, respectively. As part of Ideal’s Elite Trades Championship Series, the competition served as an opportunity to support the skilled trades and showcase the safe use of products such as wire connectors, fish tapes, conduits and benders.
The participants gained more than cash; they benefited from a mentorship dynamic with previous championship winners, who joined them during each challenge.
“It’s especially inspiring for the hundreds of trade school students we have on-site each year to observe the apprentice-master relationship,” said Andrew Kuhns, marketing manager for Ideal Electrical.
“The biggest thing that surprised me about the competition was that we got professionals to assist us in both rounds … I felt so much better being able to ask them questions in the first round and having them assist me in the second round,” said Emma Becker, a top-five finalist.
This dynamic and spectacle of the competition were designed to bring new talent to the industry. “There is no better feeling than seeing students line the bleachers cheering for the electrical apprentices a few years ahead of them. They can see their future and the importance of the work they will be doing in their communities,” Kuhns said.
To sharpen their skills for the championship, apprentices focused harder than ever on tasks at their local IBEW. “To prepare for the competition, I picked specific tasks at work and tested how fast I could complete them without sacrificing quality,” Gualandri said.
“We had our apprenticeship director (Jordan Finfrock, two-time apprenticeship champion) set up different practice material before and after school each week. Previous experience working with different contractors in the IBEW 575 was also a big factor in this competition,” Slifer said.
“Participating in this competition has already affected me and my career. It has given me so many different resources and people to connect with. I have friends all over the country now, who do the same things that I do every day,” Becker said. “The competition has offered me a good view of the industry as a whole and some of the great people who help keep it running.”
Header Image: Jose Renteria. Photo courtesy of Ideal Electrical.