Wade Wiltenburg, a Grand Rapids Community College student in a Workforce Training apprentice program, earned a bronze medal in a national competition featuring nearly 200 of the nation’s top-performing craft professionals.
Wiltenburg, an electrical apprentice from Coopersville, placed third at the Associated Builders and Contractors’ National Craft Championships in Kissimmee, Fla. Wiltenburg represented both his employer, Buist Electric, and the Western Michigan ABC chapter in the 34th annual competition.
“I’m leaving the competition with a new motivation and respect for the trades,” Wiltenburg. “I competed with the best in the country this week, and that inspires me to keep trying to be the best I can be.”
Wiltenburg faced 38 competitors from across the country during the two-day competition, which included a two-hour online exam and a six-hour practical performance test.
“We are so proud of Wade representing Buist Electric and electrical apprentices in West Michigan,” said Matt DeVries, personnel director at Buist Electric. “He started with Buist at 16 years old and is the perfect example of a student who, with the right training, education, and mentorship, can have a successful career in the trades. We hope Wade’s story and accomplishments inspire future students to join our industry.”
Established in 1987, the National Craft Championships celebrate and recognize upskilling in construction, draw some of the country’s most talented craft professionals and highlight the important role that craft skills training plays in the construction industry.
The NCC featured the nation’s top-performing craft professionals, including carpenters, electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, welders and more, all vying for top honors in 16 competitions with skills on display in 12 crafts. NCC also featured a team competition with journey-level craft professionals from different crafts working to complete a joint project.
“ABC’s premier skilled trades competition showcases the best construction craft professionals in the industry,” said Milton Graugnard , 2023 national chair of the ABC Board of Directors and executive vice president, Cajun Industries LLC, Baton Rouge, La.
“Western Michigan’s craft students brighten the future of the merit shop industry, build America stronger and highlight the countless career opportunities available in construction. From all across this great country, these craft professionals traveled to Florida to demonstrate their superior skills, education and safe work practices.”