Best People. Best Practices.
South Dakota Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, Inc

SD Apprentices Place in National Competition

Four apprentices from South Dakota recently competed in the National PHCC Apprentice Competition held during CONNECT 2021 in Kansas City, MO.

In the Plumbing Division, Garrett Boylan from Wolff’s Plumbing & Heating Inc in Spearfish, was awarded first place.  Matt Cooke, Midwestern Mechanical, Sioux Falls, also represented SD by competing in the plumbing division.

In the HVAC Division, Seth Hartman from Wolff’s Plumbing & Heating Inc, Spearfish received third place.  Nathan Kersjes from Wolff’s Plumbing & Heating Inc, Spearfish also competed in the HVAC division.

The competition was held on October 20 & 21 on the tradeshow floor. A total of sixteen plumbing and seven HVAC apprentices from across the nation took part in the contests.

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.

The plumbing apprentices were required to 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, PVC and PEX, and corresponding joining methods.

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. Sponsors for the 2021 competitions include, with headline sponsors appearing in bold: AB&I FoundryA.O. SmithBradford White Corp.; Copeland; Copper Development AssociationDelta Faucet Co.; Emerson Climate Technologies;  the International Code CouncilKohler Company; Legend Valve; Milwaukee ToolMoen; North American Technician Excellence (NATE); NIBCO INC.; Oatey; PHCC-National Auxiliary, Rheem; RIDGID; 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.

“It is incredible what this team of volunteers, sponsors and staff can pull together for these contests. Even with supply disruptions and other challenges of getting all the contest materials here, everything was ready to go for the apprentices when they arrived,” said Foundation Chair Kevin Tindall. “The contests are a huge part of CONNECT and a special moment for the apprentices competing. Having our first ever female winner of the HVAC contest made this year even more special. My congratulations to everyone involved for creating a great experience for the apprentices as we returned to an in-person event this year.”


Plumbing Contest Chair Jim Steinle, Plumbing Contest Winner Garrett Boylan and Foundation Chair Kevin Tindall.



HVAC Contest Committee Chair Chip Greene, HVAC Contest 3rd place winner Seth Hartman and PHCC Educational Foundation Chair Kevin Tindall.


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