CDUK founder Geoff Baker dies aged 86

CDUK founder and chairman Geoff Baker died peacefully aged 86 on May 15.

He is survived by wife Ruth and three children, Warren, Debbie and Gary, who joined CDUK in 2006 and is now group managing director.

Andy Noble, divisional managing director of CDUK, said: “Mr Baker was a great businessman, respected by all and a true gentleman. Always charming, witty and funny. Driven and relentless, yet wise and considered. He was curious and interested and sought solutions to problems that our customers didn’t realise they had.

“Personally I consider myself very lucky to have joined CDUK at a time when Mr Baker was still involved on a day-to-day basis and certainly learned a lot from him. I learned even more about him from our customers early in my time with the business and the stories they’d tell me, of the respect and affection many had for Mr Baker. For many of our customers, he helped give them a start in business and supported them to grow with CDUK and Corian.”

Geoff Baker (pictured) was described as “hugely innovative and having great vision for what people wanted when it came to high quality kitchens and bathrooms”.

He started out running a plumbers merchant, Taylor Baker, with his uncle, and went to Sweden to source stainless steel sinks at a fraction of the cost of many UK-made products. They sold well and the business thrived, spurring him on to sign a similar deal for pressed steel baths with a producer in Austria.

CDUK became the distributor for Corian surfaces in the UK in 1979 after Geoff Baker discovered the DuPont material during a business trip in 1976 while he was searching for a product that could be used to create an integrated basin for bathroom vanity units.

CDUK has since become one of the largest purchasers of Corian in the world. He won a DuPont competition against all other countries in Europe for the right to run a TV advertising campaign in the 1992, bringing more key clients on board, including retailers, restaurants and kitchen designers.

Under the guidance of Geoff Baker and his long-time business partner Toni Hibbert, the business thrived as it targeted fabricators, architects, the leisure sector and healthcare providers.

CDUK now has more than 50 staff and a network of fabricators operating across the UK and Ireland.

Geoff Baker, said CDUK, was still contributing his unique blend of drive and business acumen well past his 85th birthday and continued to oversee the success of the Corian division. He was over 70 when he set up the designer cooker hood brand Air Uno.

He always focused firmly on the quality of products handled by CDUK, and on the firm’s 40th birthday on 2019, said: “You either sell cheaply, or you sell top-of-the-range. You can’t sell both. We only sell top-of-the-range products. When you sell cheap products, you’re selling based on price and discounts. You’re not selling the product. When you’re selling an upmarket product, you’re selling the features and benefits of the product.”

Looking back on his career, Geoff Baker was asked if he would have done anything differently. He said: “I made lots of little mistakes. But business is made up of making mistakes and correcting them. Well, it is with me. I suppose I did a few good things, you could say that. It’s been a hugely enjoyable journey. Quite marvellous, really.”

On behalf of DuPont, Francisco Goncalves, commercial leader shelter (Corian and Performance Building Solutions), said: “Geoff was known by many of our DuPont employees who have worked in the Corian organisation, leaving us with fond memories of passionate discussions at meetings in trade venues across the world, collaborating on marketing, innovation, and industry trends.

“Geoff has been a key influence in the market and a pioneer of the whole solid surface industry, globally. We will always be grateful for the energy, passion and the wisdom that Geoff invested for making Corian what it represents and for setting the foundation of today’s and tomorrow success.”

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