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SANTA BARBARA, CA – Kevin Knowlton has been named the 2017 TAUC James J. Willis Craftperson of the Year.
The award, which recognizes outstanding labor-management cooperation and quality craftsmanship in the union construction and maintenance industries, was presented at a special ceremony on May 11 at TAUC’s annual Leadership Conference at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara, California.
Kevin is a General Foreman and member of Millwrights Pile Drivers Local Union 1090, which represents parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. He was nominated by Enerfab Power & Industrial for his outstanding plant maintenance and outage work at the AEP Mitchell Plant in Moundsville, West Virginia. His exceptional knowledge of the equipment, coupled with his work ethic and leadership skills, have helped AEP minimize service time, enhance efficiency and reduce operating costs.
“Every project we have had on this site with Kevin has come in not only on, but ahead of schedule,” Enerfab said. “These projects also hit target budgets. Kevin is one of the best planners and leaders we have seen come from the craft ranks and his attention to detail and keeping records make for great projects and happy customers.”
“The main reason that people like working for Kevin is Kevin loves what he does,” added Jacob Snyder, Enerfab’s Director of Safety and Labor Relations. “He’s a third generation millwright, he really takes his craft seriously, he cares about the people who work for him, and it’s just a joy to be around him.”
Snyder added, “We have worked over a million man hours here at Mitchell without a recordable injury, which is a first for our company, and Kevin is a big part of that.”
“On a daily basis, he never knows where he might be when he comes in in the morning,” said Russell Gwin, Maintenance Superintendent for Mitchell Power Plant. “We have a lot of equipment here, and the types of problems we have are pretty dynamic. He’ll come in with one work plan in mind in the morning, and he can quickly adjust and adapt to meet the needs in other areas.”
“His pride in his union comes out with the two hands and the work that he performs,” added Don Crane, President of Millwright Local 1090. “He absolutely is a tribute to the craft, to the local union and to the legacy he wants to leave for the next generation.”
“My granddad was a millwright, my dad, and me – we’ve all been successful,” Kevin told TAUC. “It’s about helping people. That’s what I’ve gathered out of this.”
In addition to the Craftperson of the Year statue, Kevin was also awarded a selection of tools from TAUC Legacy Partner DEWALT.
About the James J. Willis Craftperson of the Year Award
The James J. Willis Craftperson of the Year Award honors outstanding labor-management cooperation and quality craftsmanship in the union construction and maintenance industries. It is given to building trades members who have a gift for recognizing the vision of a project and can bring that vision to fruition in a professional manner. Apprentices, journeymen, foremen and general foremen from all crafts are eligible for nomination.
The recognition program was originally created in 1989 as the Craftsman of the Year Award. TAUC changed the name in 2008 to memorialize James J. Willis, Sr. He was a dear friend and supporter of TAUC and an authentic leader within the union construction industry for more than five decades. Jim started out as an apprentice ironworker in 1945 at the age of just 16 and eventually rose to the rank of First General Vice President within the international union. He also served as President and Labor Co-Chairman of the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee, Inc. (NMAPC) from 1988-2000.
Jim was hugely influential within the union construction industry, and his steadfast commitment to fairness and cooperation was legendary. It is fitting that the award bearing his name honors a union worker who demonstrates unparalleled leadership and professionalism, because Jim exhibited the same qualities throughout his life.
The James J. Willis Craftperson of the Year Award recognizes five categories of achievement:
• Safety and Health
• Schedule and Budget Productivity
• Cost Savings
• Outstanding Craftsmanship
Projects must be completed in the calendar year of the award. Nominations are forwarded to our judge’s panel to be evaluated and ranked in each category. This year, the members of the James J. Willis Award Task Force were: Joe Lasky, Scheck Industries; Chuck Binkowski, Barton Malow; and Scott Fisher, AGC of Michigan.