Sheet metal detailer wins top honors at national competition

International Training Institute invests in industry future with ongoing curriculum

MADISON, Wis. – Randy Girard lives in a small town in Wisconsin, and on a cool spring day, he drove two hours to retrieve his winnings from the Annual Sheet Metal Competition – a new Dodge truck. Although the truck arrived at a perfect time – Girard’s other vehicles have seen better days – it’s more than a vehicle. It’s a trophy he can drive.

“It was definitely one of the highlights of my career and a memory I will never forget,” Girard said.

This year, the International Training Institute (ITI) for the sheet metal and air conditioning industry opened up a new detailing category in their annual International Sheet Metal Competition, which is normally only open to apprentices, and allowed journeymen to enter. All other competition categories remained open to apprentices only.

The competition, which brought more than 275 competitors from throughout theUnited StatesandCanadatoLas VegasMarch 6-10, took place over the course of two days. The top 12 detailers in theUnited Statestraveled to the contest to compete for the top prize, the Dodge truck.

On the job, detailers use building information modeling (BIM) software to produce detailed two- and three-dimensional drawings of the major systems that make buildings comfortable and safe. The drawings help ensure workers install all systems efficiently and on time.

The first project at the contest, a typical two-day draw in the real world, was expected in six hours. The second day’s project, which was equivalent to a three-day draw on the job, also was expected in six hours. The pressure was on.

“It’s what we do every day. So, it was commonplace, but, yet, just a brand new set of rules, a brand new spec, a brand new plan and everything else. The project was absolutely challenging, but that’s what made the contest,” Girard said. “I did this for me … I love a challenge and looked at this as a huge challenge against my peers, to have some fun, gain an amazing experience and see how far I could push myself and what I could do.”

The size of the award in the detailing category shows the International Training Institute’s commitment to their proprietary Benchmark BIM training software as a way to prepare workers for the future of the sheet metal industry. Girard said, most of the time, detailers are behind the scenes and serve as “support staff” for their co-workers in the field and in the shop. To receive this sort of recognition for his corner of the industry surprised yet thrilled him, he said.

“Events like this are important, especially for what I do. A competition like this really brings to light what we’re doing and shows everyone this is a huge part of our industry and will be a huge part of the future,” Girard said. “The prize is absolutely a bonus. It put a little more pressure on the contest, absolutely, with that big of a prize – absolutely an amazing prize for what we do.”

As the demand to use BIM software on projects increases, contractors must keep up the pace to stay competitive. For Illingworth-Kilgust Mechanical, where Girard is a detailer, prestige for the company automatically accompanies Girard’s big win.

“We’re proud of Randy’s accomplishments. We already knew he was at the top of his field, but to have the best detailer in the country working for us can only help show our customers we provide quality work,” said Dan Pfeifer, president of Illingworth-Kilgust Mechanical inMadison. “As detailing is more in demand in the field right now, I can imagine word of Randy’s accomplishments will only help the company’s success.”

Through ITI, sheet metal workers in good standing can train on Benchmark BIM software, and once they are certified, they can take the software back to their jobs, saving employers money and increasing productivity. Because the software is linked to the detailer, it also allows the detailer to stand out when looking for work.

Journeymen, who have knowledge of AutoCAD, can take BIM Academy Benchmark classes currently open at no charge to all Sheet Metal Workers International Association members in good standing, no matter their location.

Upcoming classes include estimation May 22-28 in Albuquerque, NMand June 12-18 in Detroit, and project management June 5-11 in Albuquerque. Seating is limited. The registration deadline is one week prior to the class’s start date. Additional information on classes and registration can be found at

The International Training Institute (best known as ITI) is jointly sponsored by Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association (SMWIA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). ITI offers apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout theUnited StatesandCanada. Located inAlexandria,Va., ITI produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free-of-charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.

For more information about the International Training Institute, visit or call 703-739-7200.

Building information modeling (BIM), Las Vegas, Madison, Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Industry, Wisconsin
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