LAS VEGAS — More than 250 sheet metal apprentices from the United States and Canada participated in the 40th annual International Sheet Metal Competition, hosted by the International Training Institute (ITI) for the sheet metal and air conditioning industry.

Josh Lohman, 28, of Kennewick, Wash., earned top honors in the industrial category. James Alsteen, 25, of Milwaukee, placed first in the architectural division. Aaron VanRheen, Portland, Ore., took top honors in the HVAC competition. Thomas Sorensen, 38, Fairfax, Calif., placed first in the service category, and William Kerner, 32, Stafford, Va., earned top honors in the testing adjusting balancing competition.

Joey Hovarter, 36, of Moore, Okla., received first place in the detailing category and drove away with the top prize — a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

“This was the second year for the detailing category, and the competition was fierce,” said James Shoulders, executive administrator for ITI. “To earn a spot as one of the top 12 detailers in the country at this competition is a feat in and of itself.”

More than 15,000 apprentices are registered at training facilities in the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association (SMWIA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

“This is really the seed of our future. These students train and work diligently all year, and we get to showcase that,” said Shoulders. “We have contractors from all facets. Those contractors need good, young people to make their businesses successful and ultimately make this industry successful. So, the industry benefits greatly by the training they receive throughout the year. This is the best of the best here.”

Publication date: 03/26/2012