There are countless exceptionally skilled craftsmen in Washington, DC’s building industry—and they deserve to be honored. That’s why the Craftsmanship Awards was created.
Originally created in 1950 and reorganized in 1956 by the Washington Building Congress, the Craftsmanship Awards are an annual program that publicly recognizes the skillful work being done. Awards are made for a wide range of skills including elaborate and technical installation of sitework, metal fabrication, flooring and drywall, concrete, carpentry, mechanical, masonry, glazing, special construction and electrical.
At Electrical Alliance, we’re proud to have a role in the program. In fact, our very own Kyle McMillan, Local 26 Organizer, is one of approximately 10 judges for the electrical category of the WBC Craftsmanship Awards.
McMillan has served as a judge for three years now, so we asked him to give us an inside look into this celebration, how he became a judge, and what his career has looked like along the way.
From the field to an Organizer
McMillan never expected to end up working in a corporate office for Local 26. He started in the electrical trade in 2003 because he loved working with his hands, wanted a meaningful career, it offered great benefits, and he valued being a part of projects that had an important impact on his community.
But, after a little over a decade, a new opportunity came up. Washington, DC Local 26 wanted him to move to the corporate office and he was offered a position as an Organizer to help transition new and experienced workers into the organization.
“When they offered me an opportunity to work in the office, it was a little unexpected,” McMillan says. “I was having a good time in the field and enjoying my work. But then, at the office, I got to see the other side of things and how we can change people’s lives by opening up their eyes to opportunities they weren’t aware of before. And that was a good feeling.”
These days, McMillan helps organize for the union by bringing new workers into the trade, and recruit experienced tradesmen and tradeswomen from non-Union contractors.
“There’s power in numbers and there are so many talented people that the union can benefit,” McMillan says. “So, I help provide a bridge that connects those people to our union.”
Becoming a judge for the Craftsmanship Awards
In 2018, McMillan was asked to be one of the judges at the Craftsmanship Awards, which he considered an honor.
“As a field electrician, being a judge of something like this is an opportunity I never dreamed of having. I didn’t even realize awards for these types of projects were really a thing!” he says. “But I always love to have new experiences so when it came up, I jumped on it.”
Each year, McMillan is in charge of objectively scoring six to eight of the projects that have been nominated. Because of his background, he focuses on electrical installations. He considers a variety of metrics, including the difficulty of the installation or how hazardous the location is.
“There are some projects that are installed at 40-50 feet or even higher. It’s incredible,” Macmillan says. “Each time, I’m just in awe of the artistry and craftsmanship of how these projects were installed.”
Once McMillan and the other judges have scored their respective projects, the scores are sent to a head coordinator. Here, the scores are tallied so the winners can be determined.
Bringing together field and office workers
When the winners are picked, there’s an in-person ceremony to announce them and to celebrate. The ceremony also serves as an opportunity for people who work in the field and those who work corporate jobs in the office to gather, meet, and share their experiences.
“The ceremony is great because, often, field workers feel a separation from those of us in the office. I know I did when I worked in the field,” Macmillan says. “And that’s the thing—every one of us in the office come from working on job sites exactly like they are. So, it’s a great opportunity to meet face to face and congratulate them for a job well done. It’s such a good feeling to showcase the craftsmanship and artistry of what they do.”
Big thanks to the Craftsmanship Awards Program judges, coordinators, and nominees
At Electrical Alliance, we pride any opportunity that brings our community of workers together, recognizes the great work being done, and helps grow our connections. The Craftsmanship Awards Program is a fantastic way for us to do just that. Thank you to everyone involved!
The 2021 awards took place in August. For a full list of the 2021 Craftsmanship Award winners, head here. Stay tuned for announcements surrounding the 2022 awards.
Until then, McMillan hopes to be on the judge’s panel again next year.
About The Electrical Alliance
The Electrical Alliance is a cooperative effort between skilled craftsmen of the IBEW, Local 26 and electrical contractors of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of NECA.
Our top commitment is to set the standard for efficiency, productivity, and safety within the electrical industry. We also prioritize community involvement such as volunteer initiatives including food banks, coat drives, monetary contributions, and other events like the NECA Golf Classic.
Whether we’re helping companies find contractors, encouraging working electricians to learn more about membership with Local 26, or training individuals to start a career with the wages and benefits they deserve, we take pride in providing a quality union that benefits all.
Want to learn more about our training programs?
Head to our training page to see how you can start your career in electrical and telecommunications technologies.