What is Next for Quentin Baker (at BakerRisk)?!

Quentin at BakerRisk's 35 year celebratory weekend all staff meeting.
Quentin at BakerRisk's 35 year celebratory weekend all staff meeting.

In December 2019, we announced BakerRisk had become 100% Employee Owned!  As the next step in our transition plan, we recently announced that Chris Heaton has taken the leadership role as BakerRisk’s CEO – a position that Quentin Baker held since purchasing the company from his parents in 1989. Both steps were key to Quentin’s transition plan, which was carefully orchestrated in a way as to maintain the company’s mission and culture.  Now that Quentin is “closing the loop” on his own succession plan, we wanted to discuss what is next for him at BakerRisk.

Looking back, on January 1, 1984, Wilfred Baker Engineering (WBE) was officially opened. What began as Quentin’s parents’ retirement plan quickly grew to a demanding full-time business.  Wilfred Baker, Quentin’s father, asked Quentin to join him after he won a contract for the Marine Corps in 1986 to develop a system to defeat land mines — a really challenging program — and quickly needed additional manpower.  The business continued to grow and a 5-year plan was put into place to allow Mr. Baker to focus on technical work without the stress of running a full-time business.

Under Quentin’s leadership, BakerRisk grew to 175+ employees with six offices in three countries; when asked in 2019 about his plans for BakerRisk, Quentin had said: “Personally, my goal is to complete a succession plan that allows the employees to carry the company forward and allow our incredibly talented staff to continue to shine.  With that in place, I can focus on the roots that I love, like my dad before me - the research and accident investigation projects.”

Early in the evening at BakerRisk's 2019 party celebrating 35 years at W.E.B.T.F. (Shock Tube visible on left)
Early in the evening at BakerRisk's 2019 party celebrating 35 years at W.E.B.T.F. (Shock Tube visible on left)

Quentin has now completed the corporate transition and has stepped down as the CEO; however, he remains Chairman of the Board. When asked about what he is most looking forward to, Quentin’s careful planning is apparent: “My first priority is to help our new CEO, Chris Heaton, come up to speed and be successful.  Since I am remaining with BakerRisk, we have the luxury of time for Chris to get to know our team, learn our processes, and take over management duties.  I look forward to Chris providing new ideas and a fresh perspective to move BakerRisk to the next phase of its growth and advancement.”

True to his original intent of keeping the corporate mission and culture in place, Quentin plans to focus on strengthening client relationships. “As duties transition to Chris, I will have more time to devote to key clients.  I also remain available to Chris and the rest of the management team to support them as needed.”

Just like Quentin’s father before him who wanted to spend the later part of his years on what he loved, which was research and accident investigations, so too will Quentin, “I will focus on two areas:  incident investigations and explosion research.  These two areas have been at BakerRisk’s core since the company was founded, and they are highly complementary.  The knowledge and tools developed through research studies are very beneficial to determine the causes of explosion incidents.  The incident investigations identify areas for improved safety and provide explosion data at a scale much larger than can be tested.   I enjoy making the linkages between research and investigations and want to help BakerRisk remain strong in both areas.”

Quentin and his father worked closely together building Wilfred Baker Engineering until his fathers’ sudden death in ’91.  When reflecting on that loss, Quentin said it was, “devastating for our family and the company.  Fortunately, my father created a solid foundation and trained us well.”  Quentin and colleagues at BakerRisk continued building upon that strong foundation.  When asked what he thinks his dad’s take on this new transition would be, Quentin said, “I think my father would be pleased with the transition and company accomplishments.  He had the foresight to plan succession of company ownership and leadership when we were a young company.  Our recent ownership and CEO transitions are right in line with his precedent.”

We are excited to see how Quentin, Chris, and the rest of the team continue to help clients identify, evaluate, and solve their risk management issues.

(To read more about “Our Story” mentioned in this article, read it in Quentin’s own words here)

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