Maxwell “Max” Witt, a 24-year-old apprentice pipefitter at Manhattan Mechanical Services, earned a bronze award in the “Pipefitting” category as part of the annual National Craft Championships in Kissimmee, Florida. Presented by the Associated Builders and Contractors during its mid-March convention, the 34th annual competition showcased the skills and expertise of nearly 200 of the nation’s top-performing craft professionals, according to ABC.
“We are extremely proud of Max and his amazing accomplishment,” says Mike Uremovich, founder and CEO of Manhattan Mechanical Services, the premier merit shop mechanical services contractor in the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Area. “His dedication to the craft, to his training, and to his own personal growth have brought him a long way in a comparatively short amount of time.”
ABC stages the competition each year “to highlight the achievements of the men and women who represent the future of the construction industry,” according to its website. “Craft trainees and apprentices travel from across the country to demonstrate their superior skills, training and safe work practices and compete for top honors in their chosen craft.”
Mike Lazoen, training manager at Manhattan Mechanical, reports that this year’s competition “was closer than I have ever seen it. Each person who competed in the pipefitting category put their best foot forward and made this year’s competition the hardest it has ever been.”
Witt joined Manhattan Mechanical’s apprentice program in September 2019, a year after his high school graduation. He earned his NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) certification in pipefitting in the fall of 2022.
Witt was also a member of fabrication and installation crew on the Reichhold R-7TT-7 Tank Expansion project in Morris, Illinois, for which Manhattan Mechanical recently won a national Excellence in Construction Eagle Award from ABC.
The fourth-year apprentice describes himself as very happy with his decision to pursue pipefitting as his chosen craft in the Manhattan Mechanical apprenticeship program. “I have learned a lot in the program and from all the give-and-take on the job with the other fitters and welders I’ve worked with at Manhattan Mechanical.
“I can’t count how many chemical plants I have worked in over the past four years,” he continues. “There is definitely a lot of opportunity in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana region for a trained pipefitter as well as any other skilled craftsperson.”
Lazoen likewise extends credit to “all the supervisors and journeymen at Manhattan Mechanical who have allowed Max to gain extremely beneficial, on-the-job training that helped prepare him” for the recent NCC competition.
“The training programs we offer and the cooperation of our field staff are helping to develop our next generation of craftspeople,” Lazoen continues. “Working as a team, we are teaching the skills needed to raise the skill levels of young and inexperienced people to the high standards expected in the welding and pipefitting trades — and to the even higher standards we at Manhattan Mechanical hold ourselves accountable to.”
Established in 1987, the National Craft Championships celebrate upskilling in construction, highlighting the important role that craft skills training plays in the construction industry. Besides Pipefitting, NCC competition categories this year included Plumbing, HVAC, Sheet Metal, Electrical, and Fire Sprinkler, as well as Carpentry, Drywall, Millwright, Instrumentation Fitting, Welding-Pipe, Welding-Structural, Welding-Tig, and Team: Commercial.
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