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Top graduate apprentice reflects on journey to the title

Marcus Delo, L-169, 2016 BNAP competition winner

Delo credits L-169 and wife for success

EARNING THE TOP graduate apprentice title takes dedication to studying, training, and support, says 2016 winner Marcus Delo, Local 169 (Detroit). He cites the help of his local, his wife and long hours “in the books” as significant factors in taking the title.

Delo, 39, joined the Boilermakers after years of working as a carpenter. He built homes and owned his own business but decided in his mid-30s to enter the Boilermaker National Apprenticeship Program. As a first-generation Boilermaker, Delo credits his brother-in-law, Steve Romager (L-169), for telling him about the Boilermakers and BNAP.

“It’s unnerving when it comes to wanting to win, cause these guys are good.”
— Marcus Delo

Even though Delo had worked in the building trade for years, when he started as an apprentice he didn’t know how to turn on a welding machine or use a stinger. “Craftsmanship brought me into the trade. Nothing is repetitive,” he says. “Every day is a new challenge.”

The entire apprenticeship competition was also a challenge, says Delo. Throughout the different levels of the competition, Delo was impressed with the level of talent he encountered. “Very professional,” he says. “It’s unnerving when it comes to wanting to win, cause these guys are good.”

Along with practical skills, contestants have to prepare for a lengthy written exam testing their knowledge of blueprint reading, the Boilermaker constitution and bylaws, Boilermaker history and other topics. Delo’s biggest challenges were his nerves and finding time to sit down and study.

“Craftsmanship brought me into the trade.”
— Marcus Delo

“Everybody does really good with the hands on, but you got to spend time in the books. That was my biggest challenge,” he says. He had a lot of help preparing for the competition from 169 President and Apprenticeship Coordinator Mike Card and BM-ST Bob Hutsell, who is the person that “kind of pushed me into it,” says Delo. “And, of course, you don’t tell your business manager ‘no.’”

Delo says he couldn’t have won without the help of his wife, Angela, and the brothers and sisters from L-169, including W.J. Oyler, who was a winner in the team competition in 2014; John Nevedal, the 2015 graduate apprentice winner; Office Manager Kathy McComb; Administrative Assistant Meg Berger; and Shop Instructor Lew Harris.

“Thanks to my brothers and everybody that’s been supporting me,” says Delo.