By Dave Ongie, News Editor
The Johnson City Area Home Builders Association was celebrating a major milestone this past weekend, but that doesn’t mean those in attendance at the annual Home and Garden Show were living in the past. Far from it.
Instead of dwelling on the 50th anniversary of the JCAHBA, the organization put the spotlight on the future professionals who will carry the homebuilding industry into the future. The second annual Battle of the Build featured students from 10 area high schools, and everything about the second installment of the building contest was bigger and better than last year.
Each school got a larger display area, and the projects they brought to the MiniDome warranted the prime real estate the schools occupied in the heart of the showcase. Science Hill students constructed an elaborate “Grillzebo”that was good enough to bring home second place. David Crockett’s students brought an outdoor pool table constructed of concrete that was nothing short of an engineering marvel, and they took home third-place honors. The winner was a pool table imaginatively constructed inside the bed of a pick-up truck by the Carter County team.
Randy Noel, the chairman of the National Association of Homebuilders, helped judge the competition and marveled at the ingenuity on display in Johnson City. He told the students competing that he has a framed photo of last year’s winners in his office in Washington D.C., and he shows it to anyone who walks into his office doubting the future of the industry.
“When you think the young people we have in this country aren’t going to be able to carry on the traditions of our industry, you need to come to Johnson City and meet these guys and gals,” Noel said prior to handing out the awards.
According to Noel, the skills local students displayed this past weekend have the potential to carry them beyond the classroom and into a lucrative career in the homebuilding industry.
“When I’m gone, you’re going to need to fill my shoes and keep America great,” Noel said. “We have 270,000 openings across our country for folks to help build the American dream.”
In addition to the prize money earned by the top teams, each school had the opportunity to auction off their creations to folks who visited the show this past weekend. That money will help fund trips to more skills competitions as well as other educational opportunities for the students who competed this past weekend.
“The prize money this year will go back into our Skills USA account,” said Robert Tester, a construction teacher at Science Hill. “Our plan is to take about 14 students to Chattanooga to the state competition. All but one or two of them will be competing for us, so that will be the biggest group we’ve ever taken to the state competition.”
You can download the 2019 JCAHBA Home & Outdoor Show magazine here.