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Contractor trade show attracts crowd

June 17, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

More than 1,000 people braved the heat and humidity Saturday to see how much heat the 2000 Associated Builders and Contractors Trade Show could generate.

The all-day event at the Washington County Ag Expo Center is a combination fund-raiser, picnic, 5-K run, equipment show and forum for all the contracting trades to meet and greet each other and the public.

"We've always had a good turnout," said Joan Warner, ABC executive director for the Cumberland Valley Chapter. "But this year, we ran out of seats."

The ribbon-cutting ceremony brought out U.S. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, and Maryland Dels. Chris Shank and Bob McKee, both R-Washington.

The heat didn't hamper participation in the 1st Annual Jack E. Barr 5k run/walk either, Warner said. About 35 to 40 people showed up and finished the "race."

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Held for at least 25 years, the annual trade show this year moved to the Ag Center on the Sharpsburg Pike to provide more room for displays and parking.

Huge cranes dotted the landscape along with generators, heating and air conditioning units, doors, hardware, cement mixers and many other products.

"The suppliers and contractors like to bring their wares and show them off," Warner said.

Ironically, the low unemployment rate in the area has hit the trades hard, Warner said.

"It's getting really hard to find people to work in the trades," Warner said. "And these are trades that pay very high wages."

The key is training.

ABC is a nonprofit association dedicated to training prospective employees for trades such as plumbing, electrical work and all phases of contracting. That training is conducted at the Cumberland Valley Technology Center, which shares quarters with ABC at 319 W. Howard St. in Hagerstown.

Warner said funds raised at the trade show will provide scholarships and other financial aids for apprenticeships and training.

ABC has recently taken another step to get people into the trades by hiring a school/trade liaison representative.

"John Sotak was a vice principal in Pennsylvania schools before coming to ABC," Warner said.

Sotak goes to schools and recruits prospective trainees who could begin working toward becoming skilled tradesmen.

For more information on training programs call 301-739-1190.

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