Jeff Baird, who has crafted inventions for the energy, oil and gas and plumbing industries, will be honored as East Central University’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year and will deliver the Leonard Limes Endowed Lecture at noon Friday, Feb. 15, at the Stanley Wagner Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union.
Among Baird’s inventions is the no-clog, self-cleaning drain p-trap, called PermaFlow, in the plumbing industry and the electromagnetic generator for the energy industry.
Baird’s no-clog drain trap was named one of 100 best inventions of the year, which appeared in the December 2008 edition of Popular Science magazine. In fact, it was one of 10 pictured on the front cover.
The PermaFlow has a knob on the outside of the drain and a flexible rubber paddle on the inside which rotates through the trap to push clogs downstream. PermaFlow also helps keep glop from gathering in the first place with a subtle angle in the incoming pipe which generates turbulence to carry it away. If something does get stuck, turning the paddle to 9 o’clock creates a bypass through the top of the circle. Six gaskets protect the seal where the knob enters the trap, a redundancy that kept it watertight in testing for up to 31,000 rotations.
The curious Baird always had the knack for inventing, and much of his inspiration came from his great-aunt and -uncle, Neda and Harry Martin, and his grandfather Cecil Baird.
“My great-aunt and uncle lived on a farm (near Elmore City). I started making stuff when I was 10-11 years old. They didn’t have any kids, so I stayed there quite a bit, and they encouraged me," Baird said. "My grandfather made a lot of his own stuff. They all encouraged me and let me use all their material. I used a lot of wood and nails and wasted a lot of material.”
Baird’s trial-and-error testing method eventually paid off, as it has led to patents on around 20 items.
His first was an open-hole drill stem, which is a tool to retrieve formation fluids while drilling a well. That led to four licenses with Halliburton, according to Baird.
The electromagnetic generator has been the most difficult for Baird, who is a Byng High School graduate. Baird owned and operated Shamrock Testers for 22 years and was relocated back to Ada in 2011.
“With the electromagnetic generator, I didn’t know anything about electronics, so I had a lot of explosions and hurt myself quite a bit while everybody was laughing at me,” said Baird.
He credits his wife, Sandy, partners and local businesses for supporting him in his endeavors.
The lecture is free and open to the public, but guests need to RSVP for a limited number of seats by Wednesday, Feb. 6. For more information, contact Jordan Morris in the ECU School of Business at 559-5274.