The Inventor - Kevin Baker

bio

PROFILE OF KEVIN BAKER

I started roofing as a roof tiler in Canberra in 1962 at the age of 19, first working as a labourer for three months with 3 brothers that came from Mount Gambier, SA. As my prowess as a roof tiler first became obvious I was poached from the brothers by a contractor called Greg Rosa. Greg taught me all about roof tiling in the next 9 months and then went into building and gave his roof tiling business to his leading hand and myself on a sub contract basis, after another 6 months I decided I would make more money on my own sub contracting to different tile companies. I did sub contract roof tiling for the next 10 years I worked out if I did the jobs that no-one else wanted to do I could get more money, examples:- steep work, cape cods etc 2,3, & 4 storey work, travelling to a 150 mile radius of Canberra another example I worked for a company whose tiles were 15 to the sqm instead of 10 to the sqm, a lot more work, nobody wanted to work for them I did and got all their work allowing me to employ 20 men

By now my experience was immense, in 1972 I went to England for 12 months and learnt to do slating. In 1973 I went to Melbourne to see a new tile company whom had just brought in a new beaut concrete tile manufacturing plant from Sweden I got the rights to use their product in Canberra and surrounding districts, it wasn’t long before we were bringing in 20 semi loads of tiles from Melbourne and up to ten from Sydney every week. I had a business partner who taught me the business side of being in business, our business was called Canberra Roofing Industries, in 1976 I sold my half of the business to my business partner.

With a yearning to learn other types of roofing I went to California finding a job with an English company whom had brought out a concrete tile manufacturing plant from England. Working for them for awhile I got poached by a huge roofing company that did all types of roofing at this time in 1976 concrete tiles were a new phenomenon in the U.S. and anyone that knew anything about concrete roof tiles was in demand. I worked for that company training their men the skills that I knew as a supervisor. In that period I worked for three different companies picking up all the skills to enable me to use them in Australia, 2 piece mission tiles, cedar wood shakes and shingles, composition shingles, membrane roofing all types of metal roofing flashings and guttering, Japanese tiles (which is a whole different concept in roofing) plain shingles (small terracotta shingles) etc, etc, etc.

Working on the Chaparral Country Club and the Monterey Country Club in Palm Desert, CA, housing tracts around Pomona and Ontario, CA, single houses and mansions, hotels in the Hollywood Hills as well as shopping centres down to San Diego, Calexico and Mexicali on the border of Mexico and California. I honed the skills of all those types of roofing to perfection. I worked in America for a period of 5 years from 1976 to 1981 with a couple of breaks back to Australia in between. As you can see if you’re a roofer in California its ‘have gun will travel’.

During that time whilst back in Australia I started a company called All Type Roofing Pty Ltd and in 1981 I returned to Australia and built all Type Roofing into the largest roofing company in Canberra specialising in re roofing and repairs as well as all the specialised roofing that I had experience in. We re-roofed hundreds of houses, factories army barracks and carried out specialised roofing projects in Canberra and districts.

Just to mention a few - the heritage listed Duntroon Dairy we fixed blood wood shakes hand cut from forests in Queensland this was a beautiful job when completed.

The heritage listed Prime Ministers Lodge, we spent a week repairing the slate roof which is a very high 2 storey roof and then 45 degrees, we used a knuckle boom and it took us a week. We saved the Government $20,000 on the nearest quote and were the only people in Canberra who could do this type of work.

Terry Snow’s house, the owner of the Canberra Airport in the exclusive suburbs of Old Deakin. This job took 10 weeks, was covered in plain tiles (small terracotta shingles) all flashings were hidden under the shingles nothing could be seen, there was no ridge capping all cut tiles to the hips were perfectly mitre cut and glued into the hips leaving a beautifully finished roof being the major visible feature of the 4.5 million dollar house. I was the only person in Canberra who could do this type of work.

During this whole period I roofed 100’s of townhouses for Gary Willemsen, Canberra’s first and best ever townhouse builder. he had me do numerous custom houses with cedar wood shingles and a whole town house development with composition slate I was the only person in Canberra who could do this kind of work.

In 1999 I sold my roofing business to a couple of employees who sold the business name to someone else not long after.

Since then I have invented a metal gutter guard for tiled roofs and corrugated roofs and sold that product.

I invented the tile ventilator for a major problem Terry Snow had with his house and a ventilator for corrugated roofs as well as other related products.

Today I am installing in Canberra, marketing and selling my ventilation products throughout Australia.

WHY DID I INVENT THE TILE VENTILATOR

THE INSPIRATION

When asked by the homeowner how I would go about doing the work on his complicated roof I explained that I would solid sheet the roof with plywood and sark and ventilate the roof as well as how I would go about completing the roof. However contrary to my experienced opinion and advice the owner took the advice of the architect and engineers and decided to instruct me to carry out the work to their specifications to double batten and double sark (sarking is the sisalation insulation vapour barrier that goes under roofing) without ventilation which ended up being very problematic a massive condensation problem ensued, rust stains down all internal walls.

Whilst the problem started to develop and unfold I was overseas for 12 months and Terry could not locate me, he enlisted the help of air engineers and ventilation companies no one could come up with a solution that would work or was good enough for him. When Terry finally located me he told me of the problems said he knew if anybody can fix this problem its you he wanted me to solve this problem without ugly protusions such as conventional ventilators hanging out of this beautiful roof.

I thought, wow what a challenge! He wants to ventilate the roof but basically wants it to be invisible, that’s an impossible ask. The next day while I was out with my 2 daughters at horse riding lessons the idea struck me if I make a sheet of metal 6 shingles wide the depth of a shingle turned up at each end the length of a shingle, then make 6 C sections the width the depth and the length of a shingle place the 6 C sections into the sheet 6 shingles wide spot weld it all together I would have 6 hollow shingles in one sheet.

This beautiful home has five pavillions joined together by fully enclosed glass walkways. Each one has a separate roof and each of these 5 roofs had two ventilators placed in them one in the lower section of the roof and one in the top section of the roof.

By placing these ventilators in the 5 roofs this totally alleviated the massive condensation problem and as they were painted the same colour of the roof they could not be seen.

Terry said to me: "If you don’t do something with this invention your nuts."

It took me a couple of years after that to come up with a ventilator that would fit all concrete tiles then I came up with one for terracottas tiles. The Smoothline evolved for corrugated colorbond roofs.

Since that time thousands of ventilators have been installed on hundreds of houses throughout Australia. Have been specified on Government housing projects, used on many townhouse developments with great results and many happy customers. Go to Gallery and Testimonials

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