BATON ROUGE, LA. – The Pelican Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors honored 156 craft students at a graduation ceremony on January 23 for completing craft training programs in electrical (11), heavy equipment (4), millwright (13), mobile crane (19), instrumentation (11), pipefitting (7), project supervision (16), site safety (12) and welding (63) last fall at its Baton Rouge Training Center. The ceremony took place at L'Auberge Baton Rouge.
“Construction makes up an impressive 13 percent of the employment in our region and the projected demand for skilled craft professionals is up in our area,” said David Helveston, President and CEO of the Pelican Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. “ABC Pelican proudly prepares craft students like these 156 graduates with both book knowledge and hands-on experience to ensure the workforce meets the demand of our industry.”
Carlos Guidry, 2020 ABC Pelican Chairman and Senior Vice President of Construction at Turner Industries, delivered keynote remarks to the graduates. Guidry is a former student of and instructor for ABC Pelican’s Baton Rouge Training Center.
“When I was sitting in your spot, never in my wildest dreams would I have believed my career would lead me to where I am today,” Guidry shared with the graduates. “It’s earned, and you earn everything in life. Never forget that.”
Ten of ABC Pelican’s Fall 2019 graduates are women, one of which is Tannah McAlister of Independence, LA. McAlister, 21, is a PALA employee who received her Mobile crane and rigging certifications through ABC Pelican. This past fall, McAlister scored the highest on her final exam in Mobile crane.
“This is a huge accomplishment to me, and I’m proud of myself,” McAlister said. “I’m not sure who was more excited: my mom or me. I prepped extensively for the exam, creating well over 100 flashcards for myself, and that exam is still proudly hanging on my fridge.”
McAlister first learned about ABC Pelican through her PALA colleagues in her current job at ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge. The three certifications she received through ABC Pelican have helped accelerate her career in construction “at a pace quicker than I ever imagined.”
“ABC Pelican’s Baton Rouge Training Center, the staff and the instructors have done more for me than words can express,” McAlister recounted a couple weeks before graduation. “Through ABC Pelican’s education and PALA’s opportunities, I have accepted job positions just this YEAR that I envisioned would take me YEARS to achieve. My hope is that this certification will lead to my DREAM career of working as an ExxonMobil employee.”
Another ABC Pelican student who has been a craft professional since he was 18 is Baton Rouge native Benjamin Noble. “Big Ben,” as his friends and family call him, completed craft courses with us last year and is now an electrician with Triad Electric & Controls. Noble, 36, began his career as a craft professional right after high school as a welder’s helper.
“I did this for a while but wanted to make more money, so I taught myself how to be a welder,” Noble said. “I became a great welder, but that wasn’t enough for me.”
Noble then became a truck driver for eight years. “This was something I wanted to do since I was a little kid but driving a big truck can be intimidating to those who haven’t done it. Then one day, I saw an elderly woman hop out of the driver’s side of a truck, and she instantly boosted my confidence.”
To this day, Noble is proud of his driving experiences. Searching for a new craft to master, Noble enrolled in electrical classes at BRCC. After he completed the second course, he earned a job with Triad. Triad then sponsored him to complete the third and final electrical courses at ABC Pelican. Noble applauds his mentors at Triad for encouraging him to finish the program because he now knows the electrical trade and takes home a bigger paycheck.
“My experiences at ABC Pelican have been great, and I have learned a lot and met some quality people,” said Noble. “When I talk to new employees at Triad, I tell them ‘check out ABC Pelican, it’s a good investment.’”
At this graduation, Noble was recognized for completing NCCER’s Construction Site Safety Technician program, and he believes his learning is not complete yet.
Celebrating its 40th year, the Pelican Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC) represents the merit shop construction industry in 52 of the 64 parishes in Louisiana. It is a diverse, non-profit, trade association of contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and industry professionals who have joined together to advance the construction industry by promoting and protecting the Merit Shop Philosophy and the principles of the free enterprise system.
Pelican Chapter, ABC is a non-profit organization based in Baton Rouge, LA. For information on Pelican Chapter communications and media contact Erika Walter, 225-448-3348.