DENHAM SPRINGS — Two Denham Springs men will put their trade skills to the test during the National Craft Championships on Thursday at Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center in Florida.
The competition, which has attracted more than 200 competitors from 32 states, will feature the largest number of craft trainees and apprentices in the event’s 28-year history. Competitors will contend for gold, silver and bronze medals and a safety award in 15 competitions representing 12 crafts, including carpentry, electrical, pipefitting, plumbing and welding. The two-day competition will include both a written exam and a hands-on, practical application, where competitors will demonstrate their high-level skills and safety best practices.
“ABC (Pelican Chapter in Baton Rouge), along with our member companies and training partners, is committed to developing a world-class construction workforce, and we are thrilled to be able to witness the very best craft trainees and apprentices in the industry showcase their abilities,” said ABC National Chairwoman Pamela Volm, president of Annapolis Contracting Inc., of Annapolis, Maryland. “Construction remains a tremendous career opportunity for millions across the country, and we are excited to have the opportunity to raise the profile of the industry in Fort Lauderdale.”
Denham Springs resident Micah Rider, a 19-year-old electrician who has been honing his craft for eight months, said he’s confident about his ability to excel in the competition’s hands-on tasks.
“I think I’m going to do pretty well,” Rider said.
Rider, who attends class at ABC, competed in a local competition recently to qualify for his spot at the Florida event. Rider, who completed two electrician classes at Denham Springs High School, credits his ABC teachers, Boo Regan and Harold Bagley, for preparing him for the competition.
“It gives me experience and helps me along the way,” he said. “I’m doing this for my teachers, and I’m going to win it.”
The annual National Craft Championships, formerly known as the Craft Olympics, was first held in Orlando, Florida, in 1987. This year’s event will include a new team competition featuring journey-level craft professionals from five different crafts working to complete a joint project. In addition, the National Craft Championships has partnered with the Florida Masonry Apprentice and Educational Foundation to conduct a masonry demonstration.
In addition to the competition, the exhibit hall will feature welding simulators, a crane simulator, an interactive fall protection demonstration, and tool and training demonstrations.
Denham Springs resident Kenneth Breland, 21, who has been welding for about three years, said he started welding because it looked like an interesting job.
“I felt like it was a good fit,” he said.
Breland, who got married and had his first child at 18, said he knew he had to get a job to support his family and saw welders on a job site and they “looked like they had it made.”
“I’m not the type to pass up an opportunity that might be good for me,” he said, adding that welding is the type of career where employees continue to learn new welding skills.
“Actually, I’m not nervous at all,” Breland said, about the battery of tests during the competition. “Anytime I’ve taken a test, I’ve never been nervous. You’ve got to be confident if you’re a welder.”
To see the National Craft Championships agenda and meet the competitors, visit nationalcraftchampionships.org.
In addition to Breland and Rider, three men from Baton Rouge also will compete in the competition.