SD Apprentices Compete & Place in National Competition

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Three apprentices from South Dakota recently competed in the National PHCC Apprentice Competition held during CONNECT 2023 in Cleveland, OH.

In the HVAC Division, Raulie Rojas from Midwestern Mechanical in Rapid City received third place. 

In addition, Dale Frewaldt from Krier and Blain and Donovan Lyon from Midwestern Mechanical competed in the Plumbing Division.

The competition was held on October 25 & 26 on the tradeshow floor. A total of twenty-one plumbing and eleven HVAC apprentices from across the nation took part in the contests.

HVAC Apprentice Contest Winners

  • First place: Jacob Lee of P1 Service in Lenexa, Kansas. He was sponsored by RIDGID.
  • Second place: AJ Posivak of Deluxe Plumbing & Heating in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He was sponsored by Milwaukee Tool.
  • Third place: Raulie Rojas of Midwestern Mechanical in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was sponsored by RIDGID.

Plumbing Apprentice Contest Winners

  • First Place: Cody McDonald of Van Contracting, Inc. in Columbia City, Indiana He was sponsored by the International Code Council.
  • Second place: Nick Vasknetz of Local 525 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was sponsored by Home Depot Pro.
  • Third Place: Joseph Hardin of Local 333 in Lansing, Michigan. He was sponsored by Bradford White.

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 set up 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.

Sponsors for the 2023 competitions include, with headline sponsors appearing in bold: AB&I FoundryA.O. SmithBradford White Corp.; BNP-Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine; Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute; Contractor Magazine; Copper Development AssociationDelta Faucet Co.; Emerson Copeland; Home Depot Pro; Hudson Technologies; International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO); the International Code CouncilKohler Company; Legend Valve; Milwaukee Tool*Moen; North American Technician Excellence (NATE); NIBCO INC.; Oatey; NIBCO INC.*; PHCC Academy; PHCC-National Auxiliary, Rheem HVAC and Water Htg. Division*; RIDGID*; Sharkbite; Sioux Chief Manufacturing Co.; State Water Heaters; Tyler Pipe & Coupling; and Zoeller Pump Company. Companies marked with an asterisk sponsored both the plumbing and the HVAC competitions.

“I am proud of the Foundation volunteers and staff who pull these contests together,” said Foundation Chair Kevin Tindall. “These are complicated events between getting the apprentices here and then having all the materials, tools, equipment, volunteers and judges ready to go – and all in a different city each year. It is amazing to see it all come together to create a great experience for the apprentices who are competing.”

SD Apprentice Contestants pictured left to right: Donovan Lyon, Raulie Rojas, and Dale Frewaldt


HVAC Contest Committee Chair Chip Greene, PHCC Educational Foundation Chair Kevin Tindall, 3rd place HVAC Winner Raulie Rojas, 2nd place HVAC Winner AJ Posivak, 1st place HVAC Winner Jacob Lee.