PEARL ― Greenwood business leader Mike Upchurch’s efforts to encourage more young people to pursue craft careers led to his selection as a 2019 recipient of the President’s Hard Hat Award from Mississippi Construction Education Foundation. Upchurch received the honor during MCEF’s recent annual awards celebration in Pearl.

Upchurch, vice president of Upchurch Plumbing, Inc. in Greenwood, played a role in the formation of MCEF in 1996 through his involvement in Associated Builders and Contractors of Mississippi, one of MCEF’s founding organizations. He was a member of MCEF’s board of directors from 2000 to 2018 and served two, two-year terms as MCEF president.

“Mike has generously given many years of leadership and service to MCEF,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “He’s been a key asset on each and every project we’ve undertaken, and his focus on improving training and education programs has helped raise the bar for career and technical education in Mississippi.”

Upchurch credits MCEF for raising awareness in Mississippi about the many stable, high-paying career opportunities available in professional trades. He also believes MCEF’s work has helped reframe trade professions as a preferred career track for today’s students — an important shift in perception as the construction industry works to address a national shortage of skilled labor.

“I support what MCEF stands for and the positive things they’re doing for contractors and industrial companies in Mississippi,” Upchurch said. “MCEF is working to ensure that our state has an educated workforce to meet the current and future demands of the construction industry. It’s an honor to serve MCEF and be a part of efforts that will benefit all Mississippians.”

Upchurch has more than 40 years’ experience in mechanical contracting and got his start working for his father’s small mechanical company, where he learned about plumbing, sheet metal work and pipefitting. He attended night school to take courses in refrigeration and drafting and added HVAC service to his growing list of skills.

Through the years he worked his way up from craftsman to foreman to superintendent to project manager and estimator before joining his two brothers and sister in the ownership of Upchurch Plumbing. The company initially focused its business in the Mississippi Delta and now has customers in seven Southeastern states.

Upchurch served on the national Associated Builders and Contractors Mechanical Council from 1999 to 2016. He is past president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Mississippi and Delta Home Builders Association. He currently serves on the boards of State Bank and Trust Company and Greenwood/Leflore Fuller Center for Housing.

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF Training and Education.