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Construction industry builds up mechanical trades with new student award
Okanagan College Media Release

Patrick Waunch Sept 2013Okanagan College students enrolled in the Mechanical Building Trades got some heavy industry backing this week, with the announcement of a new award from the Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA).

SICA is contributing $17,500 over the next five years to create the SICA Patrick Waunch Award.

“This annual award of $3,500 will make it easier for students to get their certificates in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Sheet Metal Work or Plumbing,” said SICA Chief Operating Officer Bill Everitt at the announcement, which was held Thursday at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

“We also wanted to take the opportunity to create something that would recognize Patrick Waunch who has contributed so much to this industry.”

Waunch, President and CEO of Rambow Mechanical Ltd., has played an instrumental role in SICA, sitting on the board for nearly two decades. A holder of Red Seal tickets in four mechanical trades, Waunch is a member of Okanagan College’s Program Advisory Committee, and has held numerous roles at the provincial and national level. A past-chair of the BC Construction Association, Waunch currently serves as Chair of the Trade Contractors Council for the Canadian Construction Association.

Brad Oliver, Chair of the mechanical building trades department at Okanagan College, said the relationship between Waunch and the College has influenced hundreds of students over the years and the award will be appreciated.

“This award is very generous,” he said. “It will help somebody not so fortunate to get into the trade and maybe later think about giving something back, like Patrick has.”

Waunch established Rambow in 1985. The company now has 50 employees – 40 of them in the field – and many of them Okanagan College graduates including Rob Brown, who has his Red Seal in plumbing.

Brown, 43, was in his twenties taking his second year plumbing apprenticeship training when he opted for a bartender job. It took him more than a decade to circle back.

“Most people live paycheque to paycheque these days, so missing three or four cheques while you’re taking that apprenticeship training – that’s rough,” he said. “Having something set up to give students a little extra money so it’s not as big a hit – that’s a great idea.”

Brown said it also helps to have an employer like Waunch who encourages apprenticeship training.

“I think the future is great for the trades,” Waunch said, “and I think Okanagan College is well-positioned to become the hub for trades training in B.C.”

The award comes at a time when there is a greater need than ever to increase the number of students entering the trades to meet looming job demands, said Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation.

“Employers like Waunch, who take the time to support workers as they make their way through the apprenticeship system, are instrumental for the growth and development of skilled tradespeople,” she said. “We’re very grateful to the Southern Interior Construction Association for its decision to establish this award.”

The Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA) is a non-profit organization with more than 620 members comprised of general contractors, trade contractors, manufacturers and suppliers, as well as firms providing professional support services to the construction industry.