Contest showcases trade skills

Three-day event at Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396 center

Zach Murcko, 23, of Hubbard, works on a welding project Tuesday at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396 training center in Boardman. He is among 42 participants from plumbing and pipefitting locals across Ohio competing in the annual Ohio State Apprenticeship Contest.

BOARDMAN — Top apprentices in the union plumbing and pipefitting trades from across Ohio are in Boardman this week for a bit of friendly competition, to demonstrate their skills and network as they near the end of their five-year program.

The United Association’s annual three-day Ohio State Apprenticeship Contest this year is at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396 training center / union hall on Bev Road.

There are about 42 participants from 14 United Association locals in the state competing. Mostly all, if not all, are fifth-year apprentices. Winners move onto the regional competition to compete against winners from eight other states in District 2, one of six international districts in North America.

“They’ll do a screw pipe project, they’ll do a welding project, they’ll do a soldering and brazing project, they’ll do an underground project for plumbers, they’ll do a written portion, they’ll do a transit level portion. It’s pretty in-depth,” said Marty Loney, business representative for Local 396.

The skills the participants are required to display pretty much encompass everything they’ve learned during the apprenticeship program and what they’re required to do on job sites.

The event that started Tuesday ends Thursday. Over its course, about 100 people will come to the training center, from out-of-state judges to retirees who want to help, Loney said.

Each of the disciplines in the trade are represented: plumbers, pipefitters, refrigeration / air conditioning fitters, welders and sprinkler fitters. Participants in each group compete against one another, “so every plumber is competing against every plumber, every pipefitter is competing against every pipefitter,” Loney said.

Each local could send up to four apprentices. Local 396 is represented by three: Zach Murcko of Hubbard, Anthony Dailey of Salem and Brian Klingensmith of Berlin Center.

All three will achieve journeyman status in June after five years of two nights of school, while working in the field during the day.

“It makes me feel good about myself, that I accomplished this and lasted this long,” said Murcko, 23, who works for MS Murcko and Sons, the Hubbard-based company founded by his grandfather run now by his father.

Dailey, 35, said he tried college at Kent State University and Penn State Shenango in Pennsylvania, but “I just wasn’t that type of learner,” he said.

“I like to be engaged and build things,” said Dailey, who has worked building the Ultium Cells electric-vehicle battery-cell plant in Lordstown since November 2020.

Having a hand in a megaproject like Ultium Cells is a point of pride for Dailey. “We drive past it with my family, (and) I told my son, ‘I built that,'” he said.

“There is a lot of pride that come from this,” Dailey said of finishing the apprentice program. “Going twice a week for the past five years, I’ve missed out spending time with my kids, my family. Stuff comes up and I miss out on events, so it’s been a struggle, but it’s the best achievement that I could have possibly done in my life.”

Said Klingensmith, 29, the apprenticeship has “been a great investment” because of the job security working in a union skilled trade affords.


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