Most major sporting events require a field or a court, or maybe a ball or puck. But if you’re an electrician, all you need is a table, a few wires, the right tools, and a whole lot of knowledge.
“So you splice it here and you mount this guy there and you make sure everything is good, and that’s it,” said Emma Becker, showing off an electrical outlet (receptacle).
Sounds simple, right?
Well, it all makes sense to Becker. She’s one of the many electricians who gathered at Border States Electric in Brooklyn Park on Thursday for a competition put together by IDEAL Industries. “I think it’s awesome,” Becker said. “It’s amazing that IDEAL does this and puts this on. It’s another thing that we can look forward to every year, which is super cool.
The task itself is simple for those in the trade. The competitors essentially have to install a receptacle. “You have receptacles throughout your house, outlets,” said Andrew Kuhns, a marketing manager with IDEAL Industries. “So there’s just installing a receptacle, and they’re combining two wires together, and they’re splicing two wires and they’re checking for continuity.”
However, the challenge is, who can do it the fastest? “Under a minute, I would say, is pretty good,” Becker said. “If I could get it under 50 seconds, that would be even better, but we’ll see what happens, you know.”
The electricians who gathered in Brooklyn Park are competing for a spot in the IDEAL National Championship in Tampa, where tens of thousands of dollars are on the line. “Minnesota is so competitive, so to even be able to come and compete with these guys is the coolest thing ever,” Becker said.
Guys like Mike Fox, who enjoy this event because it gives them an opportunity to show off their skills. “We always will be the guy that will drive around and tells our kids, ‘look at that building, we did that, look at that,’ Fox said. “They don’t see what we do. So this is kind of fun to be able to showcase us.”
It’s a showcase that event organizers hope will attract more young people to the profession. The average electrician is around 60 years old, and experts say the industry is facing a labor shortage.
“If I’m watching from the sidelines and I’m thinking I want to get into something after high school, you see something like this, I mean it’s not just work,” Fox said. “You can have some fun.”
Meanwhile, the best pro time from Thursday’s qualifying competition came from Mike Fox, who finished installing his receptacle in 46 seconds. The best apprentice time came from Emma Becker, who finished her receptacle in 53 seconds. Both will now compete at the IDEAL National Championship Finals in Tampa Nov. 4-6.