AJ Baker & Sons managing director, Mike Baker, takes responsibility seriously.

He recognises the importance of refrigeration in our society and the contribution made by family, employees and customers to the success of his family-owned business.

He has the qualities typical of a HVACR Leader of the Year Award winner, which is why his acceptance speech came as no surprise.

“I want to thank the most important people in my family, my work colleagues and our customers,” Baker began.

“I want to thank my family for putting up with me when I come home grumpy, and when I have to travel and go away; everyone at AJ Baker who understand what our business is about and continually step up to make it a success.

“And finally, our customers who give us the opportunity to make their business a success.”

A mechanical engineer based in Perth, Baker describes refrigeration as a challenging business.

“The challenge keeps me going, plus being in charge of a business I feel a sense of responsibility for the livelihood of my employees and their families,” he says.

Maybe it is that same sense of responsibility that is behind Baker's faith in natural refrigerants. “We need to future-proof the solutions we provide to customers, not just provide them with band-aid, short term investments,” he says.

So what does he think are the qualities of a HVACR Leader of the Year? “I feel that the qualities of the Leader of the Year would be humility, a sense of purpose and drive to achieve that purpose. They should be a role model of what they want their employees to be, and to always treat people the way you want to be treated.” CCN agrees wholeheartedly which is why Baker is such a worthy winner.

Looking ahead, Baker says the industry needs to focus on upskilling the entire trade and more companies should be employing apprentices – this is everyone's responsibility.

“Apprentices are the future of the industry and for too long there has been a reliance on a small number of companies to train the next generation of tradesmen,” he says. “It's a bit like AFL, good young players get snapped up by the cashed-up clubs for the lure of big bucks. If there were government and industry incentives to train apprentices we wouldn't see fridgy's jumping ship for 50 cents an hour.”

In coming years Baker is keen to expand the business and broaden the roll-out of natural refrigerants.

And on a more personal note, he is working hard to improve his skills in martial arts.

The plan, he says, is to a achieve a first degree black belt.

This year the HVACR Leader of the Year Award was sponsored by Innotech. Innotech distributor, Craig Waldron, the managing director of Controls Temperature Systems, congratulated Mike Baker from AJ Baker & Sons for winning the HVACR Leader of the Year Award. "The winner of this category is a driving force for our industry providing leadership and inspiration for others to follow. We want to provide incentives to help others achieve their goals in this industry," he said.


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