Irwin Industrial Tool Co. and Rebuilding Together, a national, nonprofit home rehab organization, named Marty McClimens as the Irwin/Rebuilding Together Tradesman of the Year. McClimens, a professional plumber and instructor for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 in St. Louis, attended Super Bowl XXXVIII as a guest of Irwin. He and his wife, Karen, were seated with NASCAR star Kurt Busch, driver of the #97 Rousch Racing Ford, of which Irwin is a primary sponsor for 18 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races in 2004.

The national award was created to honor the contributions of professional tradesmen who volunteer their time and talents to supporting Rebuilding Together-sponsored home maintenance and remodeling projects for low-income homeowners. Rebuilding Togethers sponsors such projects for more than 8,000 homes and community centers nationwide each year. Selection was based on three criteria: overall service to a local affiliate, contribution to the success of the affiliate, and leadership role.

McClimens said that, shortly after he became involved with the organization, he recognized an opportunity for unions and other associations of skilled tradesmen to work together for the good of the community. He has volunteered for the St. Louis affiliate of Rebuilding Together for seven years, contributing more than 50 hours each year to coordinate involvement of the plumbing and pipefitting union in area home maintenance projects.

Because of his efforts, participation has grown from a few general contractors and handymen to more than 200 professional plumbers in 2003.

He has even integrated Rebuilding Together projects into his apprenticeship training programs, helping young plumbers learn more about renovation and repair work while teaching them the importance of helping the community.

“Most of us cannot think of what it would be like to live in a house with no running water, but you would be amazed at the conditions we find in some Rebuilding Together homes,” McClimens said. “The work we do makes for a better life for everyone, and when you see the look of thanks and gratitude on the face of the homeowner when the work is done, that can put a tear in your eye.”