Road Show

— by Lynne Brandon

An in-depth look at one of the many SkillsUSA events that happen around the country each year. Special thanks to PHCC of North Carolina who hosted this event.

Each year across the U.S. SkillsUSA competitions put the skills of trade students to the test. These events are often hosted by local PHCC chapters and involve partnerships between educators, industry professionals, businesses, manufacturers, and students. The events reward students for their excellence, target relevant training, and highlight the need for newcomers to a highly skilled and trained workforce. 

One such event recently took place in Greensboro and was hosted by PHCC North Carolina. 

“PHCC took to the road in the spring to go where the plumbing and HVAC professionals are,” said Stephanie Blazek, Executive Director, PHCC North Carolina. “We basically covered the state starting in Wilmington, the Triangle region, Greensboro, Western North Carolina and ended in Charlotte.” 

The Greensboro event covered plumbing and heating specifically. The daylong event agenda included education, apprentice testing (hands on and written) and a trade show at the Greensboro Coliseum ACC Hall of Champions. 

Under the direction of SkillsUSA, performance testing for Plumbing, HVAC and Sheetmetal was the main attraction. Students and contractors took a written test before participating in hands-on performance skill assessments. Judges were professionals in the industry. 

Hands-on Contests 

The event’s focus was on the competitions for plumbing, sheet metal and HVAC. Stations for HVAC and plumbing were timed with points awarded at each. 

The plumbing section included soldering, brazing and plumbing project assembly. Plumbing contests included rough-in hot and cold water lines with copper tubing and rough-in sanitary drainage, waste and vent lines with cast iron and PVC plastic for a bathroom, a lavatory/toilet, a washer box and a floor drain. Water pipes were pressure tested on completed projects. 

The sheet metal portion was made up of Metal Duct projects. 

The HVAC portion started with a written test followed by hands on timed contests: 

  • A/C troubleshooting 
  • Heat Pump Troubleshooting 
  • Airflow 
  • Refrigerant Recovery 
  • Gas Furnace Refrigerant ID (practice station) 

Community college and high school students participated in the event. Professional plumbers and other contractors judged the competitors on accuracy, workmanship, proper selection and use of tools and supplies and proper safety procedures. 

What do judges look for? According to Jon Crockett from Rowan Cabarrus Community College, and Skills USA volunteer, they look for accuracy in the installation or job, being safe and following instructions. “We are excited to showcase our talented and skilled career and technical education students here at the PHCC-NC conference,” said Paul Heidepriem, Director for SkillsUSA North Carolina. “And the partnership with PHCC-NC is confirmation of the continuous need for high-skilled tradespeople in the construction field and the commitment that industry makes to help train our young people to fill the skills gap in America.” 

Participants were male with one female high school student, Mary Medlin. Medlin (dual-enrolled at GTCC and homeschooled) took the top honor as the winner of the HVAC-High School award. 

Medlin is enrolled in GTCC’s HVACR 2-year degree program. “I knew I wanted to work in a trade,” said Medlin. “There is plenty of work so it is also job security which is important to me. The classes are great at GTCC, and I love the science of it. One of my favorite classes is Advanced Comfort Systems.” Medlin is not bothered by being the only female in her classes and said she plans to work in the commercial side. 


Winners were announced at the end of the day for the HVAC, Plumbing and Sheetmetal competitions: 

First Place Awards 

  • HVAC High School – Mary Medlin, Guilford Tech Community College (CCP student); 
  • HVAC College/Postsecondary – Garrett Stefanick, Guilford Tech Community College; 
  • Plumbing College/Postsecondary – Brent Offenberger, Rowan Cabarrus Community College; 
  • Sheetmetal College/ Postsecondary – Joshua Wood, Rowan Cabarrus Community College. 



Educational classes taught by experts covered code violations (not having a building permit was one of the top code violations) and how to avoid it, OSHA record keeping, heat illness protection and more. 


Industry Participants 

Industry manufactures and partners were on hand with products and information to share with attendees made up of contractors, apprentices, students, industry experts and educators. Milwuakee Tool, Gemaire, Upgrade, Trane, Spec 22 Sales, T-Mobile, Yandle Witherspoon Supply, Hudson Independent Partnerships, Paul Davis, Applied Vision Works and education partners NCDOL-OSH Division and the NC State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler attended the show to help educate contractors, apprentices and current industry leaders in the most current technology, tools and business practices. 

“Our Roadshow events like the one in Greensboro were designed based on the needs of our contractor members,” said Blazek. “The association, PHCC of NC, exists to serve our members in all things education, advancement, and legislation, and to help our members serve our communities’ health, safety, and comfort needs. North Carolina is growing at an incredible rate, making our industry professionals very sought after and incredibly busy. 

Road Shows were designed to bring the solutions they requested to their front door and help promote apprenticeship programs to our youth. It is important to our membership that we grow the number of qualified professionals in our state in order to support the needs of our communities. That is why we so heavily invested in apprenticeship and in partners like SkillsUSA.” 

Students participated in various timed HVAC contests.
Students participated in various timed HVAC contests.
Students participated in various timed HVAC contests.

Students participated in various timed HVAC contests at the SkillsUSA event in Greensboro hosted by PHCC-NC.

Mary Medlin

Mary Medlin took the top honor as the winner of the HVAC-High School award during the event.

People at PHCC NC SkillsUSA event

Left to right: Jon Crockett and Joe Christie, Rowan Cabarrus Community College instructors & SkillsUSA Advisors, Gary Ramsey, Stephanie Blazek, PHCC of NC Executive Director

Trane at PHCC-NC SkillsUSA event

Industry manufacturers and partners such as Trane were present at the PHCC-NC SkillsUSA competition in Greensboro, NC.

Scott Wilson and student competitors

Scott Wilson, Catawba Valley Community College HVAC Advisor, and his student competitors at the PHCC-NC SkillsUSA competition in Greensboro, NC in 2023.

Winners of Plumbing and HVAC contests

Winners of Plumbing and HVAC contests in Greensboro, NC in 2023.

Coming Soon! 

Registration is now OPEN! The 2023 “Food, Friends and Hot Summer Fun” PHCC of NC Summer Convention will again bring members and their families together for 4 days of great activities, networking, games, beach and pool at Wrightsville Beach, NC. August 2nd – 5th, this year’s Convention Registration includes: 

  • Opening Ice Cream Social and Family Movie 
  • Cocktail Reception and Party (Theme to be announced) 
  • Family Beach Pictures with a premier NC photographer (Bring your matching outfits) 
  • Plenty of “hang out & catch up” Free Time 
  • Dinner at the Fort Fisher Aquarium – eating with the sharks! (TBD) 
  • Closing Dinner with Auxiliary Scholarship Presentations and Live & Silent Auctions 
  • PHCC of NC Board meeting (open to all) 
  • PHCC of NC Auxiliary meeting (open to all) 
  • Optional Saturday Golf Outing at Beau Rivage (Please register) 
  • Optional Family Fun Outing at Jungle Rapids (Please Register) 

Register online at 

PHCC-NC logo



Southern PHC June July 2023

This article originally appeared in the June / July 2023 issue of Southern PHC print edition. To view this and other issues online, visit the DIGITAL ISSUES PAGE.

To have a print issue delivered straight to your mailbox, subscribe online.