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Former mechanic places first in electrical division during ABC Skills Competition

April 06, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Philip Long of Thurmont frames a wall for structure Saturday during 2013 Associated Builders & Contractors Skills Competition at Barr Construction Institute.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

— Henry Ford


Proving there is truth in the words of America’s most famous mechanic, a former mechanic placed first in the most competitive division in Saturday’s 2013 Associated Builders & Contractors Skills Competition.

“I’ve got a lot of years on a lot of these people. I’m the oldest person in the class,” Steven Rhyne said. “I was a mechanic for a lot of years,”

Rhyne, 58, has worked in the electrical department at Holcim US for the past three years. On Saturday, he placed first among 16 competitors in the electrical competition.

“Just something different in life,” Rhyne said when asked why he decided to become an apprentice electrician. “Electrical was open, and I just thought I’d take a shot at it.”

Rhyne and the other apprentices had six hours Saturday to complete identical electrical projects in the practical exam. The students took their 100-question written exams last week, said Kathy Gress, education coordinator at the Barr Construction Institute, where the competition was held.

The institute on North Locust Street is owned by the Cumberland Valley Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors, ABC President Will Seilhamer said.

Other students had practical exams in carpentry, plumbing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Seilhamer said. Gift certificates of $200 went to first-place winners, $100 for second place and $50 for third, he said.

Thomas Hoover and John Widmeyer, both of Barnhart Electric Service, placed second and third, respectively, in the electrical competition.

Ryan Fox of R.W. Warner Inc. won in the HVAC category, with Adam Miller of Care Services in second and James Maynard of TMI in third.

James Salaneck placed first in plumbing, followed by Brandon Lohman in second. Just two apprentices were entered in the competition.

Phillip Long Jr. of Howard Hughes Medical Institute had the field to himself in carpentry and took the first and only prize.

All 25 competitors were fourth-year apprentices, Seilhamer said. The institute has 96 students, down from the usual 120, he said.

The last six years have been tough on the construction industry, Seilhamer said, though there are some signs of a comeback in residential construction. Still, there are shortages of skilled workers, he said.

Most of those training at the institute already are working, giving up a couple of nights a week for four years to further their skills, Seilhamer said.

“They come out of here as fourth-year apprentices” and are immediately eligible to take their journeyman’s exam, Seilhamer said.

“Don’t let your education end here,” Seilhamer told the apprentices. “Work your way up and maybe one day, you’ll have your own company.”

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