Irwin Industrial Tools named its Ultimate Tradesman this past weekend. Eric Howard, a general contractor from Concord, Calif. with 19 years experience, beat out four other professional tradesmen to take home the title of 2008 Ultimate Tradesman and a host of cash and prizes. 

“I can't believe I won!” exclaimed Howard. “So many professional tradesmen entered, to think I was the fastest and most accurate among that group is amazing. This has been a great experience and I would like to thank everyone at Irwin for putting on this contest, they have been great throughout the entire event.” 

The company had been searching since March in the second annual Ultimate Tradesman Challenge. The competition is a timed event in which participants compete using an Irwin Strait-Line chalk reel, tape measure and Speedbor Max wood boring bit to mark, measure and drill as quickly and accurately as possible. 

Following its success of the 2007 competition in the United States, the company extended the 2008 competition internationally and broadened the search to include Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This year, more than 10,000 tradesmen competed in 200 local events in 37 states, four Canadian provinces, Australia and New Zealand.

Howard won the North America finals with a qualifying time of 23:88 seconds, winning a Roush Performance Supercharged Stage III Ford F-150, a 600 square-foot Irwin Ultimate Garage by Allied Steel Buildings and a year’s supply of Dickies work gear. 

“The participation and passion among this year’s Ultimate Tradesman Challenge contestants has been truly impressive,” said Eric Rich, Irwin’s director of marketing.  “Irwin Industrial Tools is proud to recognize Eric for his accomplishments and for trusting that the high performing, innovative hand tools and power tool accessories … will deliver winning results on the job, each and every day.” 

For more information on the Ultimate Tradesman Challenge, please visit www.irwinchallenge.com.