Rockville, MD — Edwin Garcia didn’t leave this year’s ABC National Craft Championship in San Antonio with the first-place trophy. What he brought home is even more valuable.
“It was a great experience,” says Garcia, a Vito Services commercial plumber who competed in the Craft Championships plumbing contest. “But since I’ve been back, I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more invested in my work, working faster and more efficiently. I guess I gained a lot of confidence in competition and I think I’m an even better plumber now than before.
The ABC National Craft Championship invites nearly 300 competitors to compete for gold in 16 competitions with skills on display in 13 crafts. Each competition consisted of an online exam, which accounts for 25% of the total score. After the online test, the National Plumbing Competition consisted of an assigned six-hour project, which accounts for the remaining 75% of plumbers’ scores.
There were a record 29 contestants in this year’s plumbing contest, which was scored by a panel of four judges. The plumbers received their assignments shortly before the start of the competition, which didn’t leave much time to prepare for the six-hour deadline.
This year’s competition consisted of four separate jobs that all come together at the end:
Sewers: run a PVC pipe to the wall, which drains into a cast iron pipe
Pecs supply lines on the walls
Cut and thread the pipe; cut and groove at 90-attach to straight piece (mating)
Gassing / tight brazing
Garcia says he was ready for all the work, but in hindsight he could have changed the order of his work.
“I started with the drain, but it took a lot longer than I thought,” says Garcia. “In hindsight, I may have done the easier job first because the drain took so long.”
Garcia says he noticed what other plumbers were doing, but thought his strategy was sound by starting with the hardest part first. It also took time for Garcia to get used to the setup, his station and the tools provided by the competition.
“Don’t get me started on those tools,” Garcia jokes.
In the end, it’s lucky the competition provided tools, since Garcia wasn’t allowed to bring them on the plane, forcing him to miss his original flight.
“I had a great time, met so many other great plumbers and technicians…it’s an amazing competition in a beautiful city,” says Garcia. “My only complaint is about the tools. I was told we could bring tools which caused me to miss my flight as they wouldn’t allow me to carry them. But once I got out no one was allowed to use their own tools making it fair to everyone, just wish they had told us ahead of time.
Plumbers also had to use calculators provided by the competition, which slowed down the process.
“I’m not good at math, so without my personal calculator, I had to write down all my work with the pencil and a piece of scrap paper they provided me,” says Edwin. “Not having my own calculator was almost as bad as not having my own torch.”
Even with unknown tools, Garcia still placed in the top 10. Even though he didn’t quite complete his fourth and final assignment (less than 10% of plumbers completed all four assignments in the window of 6-hour competition), its quality score was high. . No plumber dropped out of the competition, although a few arrived late after a long night of festivities along the San Antonio Riverwalk.
“We’re proud of the work Edwin has done to advance his plumbing education, and it was a chance for him to show off all the great things he’s learned,” says Vito Services Residential Plumbing Manager , Anthony Vito, who was on hand to cheer on Edwin after competing himself several years ago. “He did a great job. Maybe other schools prepared their guys a bit more for competition, but Edwin is at school and here to learn, and it was a great showcase for him to prove what he did.
Although they couldn’t all come with their own tools, each contestant received a set of new tools to take home from main sponsor Milwaukee Tools.
Along with his new set of tools and several new friends he keeps in touch with, Garcia came back from San Antonio with something immeasurable.
“I proved to myself that I could handle anything that came my way,” says Garcia, who has been a plumber with Vito for over 5 years. “It’s a confidence that I can take on any job as well or better than any other plumber out there.”
Vito Services is a full-service plumbing, heating and air conditioning company, proudly serving the Alexandria, VA, Rockville, MD and Washington, DC areas. Since 1934, they have been providing their community with expert repairs and quality workmanship for residential and commercial customers. To learn more about Vito Services or to schedule an appointment, visit them online at VitoServices.com or by phone at (301) 315-6100.
For more information about Vito Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, contact the company here:
Plumbing, heating and air conditioning Vito
681 Southlawn Ln.
Rockville, MD 20850