The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association’s (PHCC) Educational Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the national plumbing and HVAC apprentice contests. The contests were held October 5th & 6th in Charlotte, North Carolina on the tradeshow floor during the PHCC—National Association’s CONNECT 2022 event. A total of eighteen plumbing and ten HVAC apprentices from across the nation took part in the contests. 

Plumbing Apprentice Contest Winners

  • First place: Jake Elsbecker, from Midwestern Mechanical in Spencer, Iowa. He was sponsored by Zoeller.
  • Second place: Scott Hicks, Jr. from TD Industries in Houston, Texas. He was sponsored by the International Code Council.
  • Third place: Alex Estevez from B Wagner Contracting in Allentown, New Jersey. He was sponsored by the Copper Development Association.

HVAC Apprentice Contest Winners

  • First Place: Sebastian Uhde, from Magnolia Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Washington D.C. He was sponsored by the PHCC National Auxiliary.
  • Second place: Harrison Bosler, from Howe Inc. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was sponsored by NIBCO, INC.
  • Third Place: Sean Reed, from Reddick and Sons in Manassas, Virginia. He was sponsored by RIDGID.

The plumbing apprentices were required rough-in a bathroom system. The set-up includes a toilet, sink and shower, complete with supply, waste and vent lines, plus cleanouts and extra features designed to test the contestants’ knowledge and skills. The test set-up includes a variety of pipe materials – cast iron, copper, and PVC and corresponding joining methods.

The HVAC competitors were required to complete a written test, demonstrate proper brazing techniques and perform a hands-on diagnostic on an HVAC package unit, with system errors created by the Foundation’s contractor volunteers for the competition. The competitors also had to perform a pressure and leak test, demonstrate proper refrigerant recovery procedures and the ability to accurately take a variety of instrument readings.   

A dedicated team of contractor volunteers arrived two days before the competitions to assemble the competitor test benches, distribute the materials and supplies and setup the testing areas. They monitor the competitions, evaluate the apprentices’ work and provide constructive feedback on each competitor’s performance following the event.

The contests are made possible by the generous support of several industry sponsors who provide monetary support and in-kind material and tool donations. There were over fifty sponsors for the 2022 competitions, including (with headline sponsors appearing in bold): A. O. Smith; AB&I Foundry; Bradford White Corp.; Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute; Contractor Magazine; Copper Development Association; Delta Faucet Co.; Emerson Copeland; Ferguson; International Code Council; Kohler Company; Legend Valve; Milwaukee Tool; Moen; NIBCO INC.; North American Technician Excellence (NATE); Oatey; PHCC Academy; PHCC-National Auxiliary; Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine; Rheem; RIDGID; Sharkbite; State Water Heaters; Tyler Pipe & Coupling and Zoeller Pump Company. 

Milwaukee Tool made a major contribution to the Apprentice Contests again this year by donating most of the tools needed by the contestants for the competition. This gift allowed the competitors to skip the trouble of shipping their own tools and to go home with a new set of tools to power their work long after the competition ends. RIDGID is also providing tools to each of the top placing competitors.

“We have an excellent team of volunteers and sponsors who make sure that everything these apprentices need is onsite and ready to go when it’s time for the competition to begin,” says Foundation Chairman Kevin Tindall. “The apprentices get to have an experience they will remember their entire life and the PHCC CONNECT attendees get to see the skills of the next generation in action.”