Local Roofer Apprentices Win Skills Competition

Youngstown, Ohio – Two roofer apprentices from Local 71 of the Mid-States District Council of Roofers took two of the top three prizes recently at the annual skills competition, held this year in Cincinnati.

About 50 apprentices from more than 30 locals from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia competed for the honor. Criteria focused on finishing according to schedule and with high quality work.

Youngstown residents Adam Balog won first place in the competition and Richard Graham took third place. This year's domination of the event follows a pattern of Local 71 apprentices winning at least one of the top three awards in consecutive previous years, as well. Carlo Ponzio, business representative of Local 71, said the winning streak is attributed to the concentrated training Local 71 roofer apprentices undergo, as well as the support they receive from veteran roofers.

The roofing apprenticeship program is a three-year commitment. Instructor Gene Bogden said first year apprentices concentrate mostly on safety and fundamentals. Second year work involves more roofing, hot tar and single-ply training, and third year apprentices hone their skills in detail work, shingles and flat roof. All apprentices are also mandated to become proficient in CPR and first aid.

In addition to Bogden working with the apprentices, 20-year journeyman Bill Messner volunteered his time to help apprentices get ready for the competition by mentoring them for several days during training.

"Winning this competition is a testament to the dedication our apprentices have to learn their craft, and the commitment our instructors and journeymen have to make sure the proper skills are passed from generation to generation of union roofers," Ponzio said. "This is yet another example for the Youngstown area construction community to see and understand the type of quality and professionalism union roofers deliver on a job site."