Roofing apprentices advance to national competition

By Jean Borst

A team of roofing apprentices who have been building their skills and knowledge on the Clover Park Technical College (CPTC) campus recently took top honors at the Western States Apprenticeship Competition in Ontario, California.

Samreth Khong, Rafael Tellez, and Gunnar Waldroup represented the Pierce County Roofers Apprenticeship Program, vying against members of West Coast apprenticeship programs that are part of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers. Around 40 participants from Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and California competed in intermediate and advanced categories.

Khong took first place in the intermediate group and Tellez placed second in the advanced category. The two are apprentices with Snyder Roofing. Waldroup, who is an apprentice with Preferred Roof Services, placed third in the advanced-level competition. Khong and Tellez will move on to the national competition May 7-9, 2024 in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

Pierce County Roofers Apprenticeship Program team: From left, Richard Geyer, Roofers Local 153 Business Manager: Racheal Geyer, Pierce County Roofers Training Director; Samreth Khong, 1st place intermediate winner; Ryan Weichert, Roofers Local 153 and Pierce County Roofers instructor/facilitator; Gunnar Waldroup, 3rd place advanced winner; and Rafael Tellez, 2nd place winner advanced.

“It was rewarding to see the participants so confidently demonstrate their abilities,” Pierce County Roofers Training Director Racheal Geyer said. “We came for the camaraderie and friendly competition and didn’t know what to expect from the other programs. Leaving with three titles was beyond exciting.”

“It’s clear that the Pierce County Roofers did not come to play,” South California Roofers & Waterproofers Coordinator Guadalupe Corral said during the competition.

At the national level, Khong and Tellez will go up against 2023 winners from the Midwest and Northeast regions for cash prizes and the ultimate title of the county’s best roofing apprentice.

A program built on partnership

CPTC has partnered with Pierce County Roofers for decades. The college provides classroom space and instruction on its Lakewood campus, as well as additional student support services. As a state-registered apprenticeship program, Pierce County Roofers Apprenticeship Program has been able to secure Career Launch funding in recent years that has enabled CPTC to purchase updated equipment to expand the program and enhance student training.

“The partnership ensures that apprentices placed with employers have a strong foundation in roofing skills and training on the most up-to-date technology in the workforce,” CPTC Director of Workforce Development Michelle Barre said. “The results of the apprenticeship competition reflect the time and effort that CPTC and the Roofers Association have put in to create and sustain a robust program.”

The Pierce County Roofers Apprenticeship Program offers education and training for those interested in entering or already working in the roofing and waterproofing industry. Participants earn while they learn the trade in the classroom and on the job. Applications for the program are accepted year-round.