The story of Arbortech truly started from humble beginnings with CEO and Arbortech original tools inventor, Kevin Inkster and his wife, Kristine living in Nannup – a small country town in the South West of Western Australia. Kevin and Kristine made a living from a combination of driving school buses, mechanical repairs and woodworking.
About Kevin Inkster
From a very young age it was already evident that Kevin had an intuitive, inventive flair in him. At the age of 18 he came up with the design concept of self lighting cigarettes. The idea was pursued by unscrupulous investors who told him the idea was unpatentable.
Designing had always been a love for Kevin and he spent his spare time experimenting with other different design and concepts. In fact, most of Arbortech’s woodworking tools are a result of Kevin’s experimentation.
The Original Woodcarver Blade
In 1984 Kevin and Kristine were joint cafe owners with another business couple. The building required complete renovation and it was decided the cafe would go through a fit-out. With limited funds to hire a professional to do the work, Kevin became hands on with the entire fit-out. This project further fueled Kevin’s interest for invention and woodworking as he felt the lack of tools on the market for woodworking.
Kevin continued with his passion for woodworking and making a bit of extra income from making wooden chairs, in partnership with another craftperson, Peter Godden who was making tables from wood sourced from the forest floor.
Kevin became frustrated at the lack of woodworking tools for freehand shaping the seat bases. That was when Kevin decided to try his hands at a new contraption by wrapping a chainsaw chain around part of an old Volkswagen cover.
Between the years 1984-1987, Kevin experimented with many prototypes and eventually the design evolved through a series of improvements and testing.
In 1988 Kevin decided to enter his creation of a Sculpted Reclining Chair (made using a Woodcarver prototype) into a woodworking competition which won the South West Arts Festival’s woodworking prize of $3,000. From here the decision arose as to whether Kevin wanted to continue with his love for woodworking or venture into manufacturing of woodworking tools. The choice was to commercialize the Woodcarver after receiving a $5,000 government grant in June of that year, with an office being set up out of Kevin and Kristine’s home to run their business.
As such, Arbortech was officially incorporated. In October 1988, Arbortech attended its first “Timber & Working with Wood Show” in Melbourne. The Woodcarver made its debut appearance, the live demonstration intrigued the masses and generated much interest from the woodworking enthusiasts who attended. The Woodcarver was sold for $50.00 and completely sold out by the end of the show weekend. Having netted sales of $14,000 from the Woodcarver sales, it was a big achievement for Kevin and Kristine, and it was clear the teamwork between the humble couple paid off.
The following year, an office was set up in the main street of Nannup. Further success followed when the Woodcarver blade was awarded the BHP Steel award.
In 1990, Kevin and Kristine were able to move from their home office to an office building at number 50 Westchester Road. This same year, the demand for the Woodcarver grew and Arbortech received an order of 50,000 Woodcarver blades from Ryobi in the United States.
The increase in sales and business ultimately lead to the expansion of Arbortech. There was now a need for a larger office to facilitate the business operations and activities. In 1993, a purpose built corporate office and manufacturing facility at 67 Westchester Road, Malaga was built. Business activity only went from strength to strength from here as Kevin continued his passion for woodworking and developing woodworking tools out of his love for design and experimentation. In 1996 the woodworking range expanded to include more woodworking tools which have translated to the preferred tools for many woodworkers today.
Arbortech Ventures into the International Market
With the appreciation for woodworking growing and the increased demand for woodworking tools beyond the Australian market, Arbortech expanded business operations and ventured into the export market with the opening of a US office in 2007 and European office in 2011.
Whilst woodworking tools are a big part of Arbortech’s product portfolio, Arbortech’s name has been associated with engineering excellence and innovation for the award winning brick and mortar saw known as the Allsaw, which today is being market as the AS170.
Arbortech continues to focus on research and development to bring the best and most innovative products to the market. A renewed focus on woodworking products has seen the release of the TURBO Plane in 2012 and following it’s success, the release of the Mini TURBO to the Australian market in May 2013 at the Maleny Wood Show. The Mini-TURBO will be released to the international market in September 2013.
A renewed focus on woodworking products saw the release of the TURBO Plane in 2012 and following it’s success, the release of the Mini TURBO to the Australian market in May 2013 at the Maleny Wood Show. The Mini-TURBO was released to the international market in September 2013.
Today, Arbortech still continues to focus on research and development to bring the best and most innovative products to the market. The most recent product release the Ball Gouge, was launched at the Sydney Woodworking Show in June 2017. It is a spherical, ball shaped wood cutter born from the concept of a countersink drill. While the Ball Gouge appears simple and slick in it’s design, it is in fact the product of countless prototypes and experiments to achieve exceptional balance and performance.
Celebrating 25 Years
Having started from humble beginnings and evolving to an internationally recognized brand name, we thought such achievement needed to be celebrated at our 25 year anniversary. As part of the 25 year anniversary and annual woodworking competition, one of the highlights of the party was judging the staff woodworking projects.
This marks the 2nd year of the staff woodworking competition and we covered this in a previous blog post of last year’s staff woodworking winners and projects.
Arbortech staff worked hard on their woodworking project and this year’s entries were equally as impressive as last year’s submissions.
Stay tuned for our next blog post for coverage of the staff woodworking project and the winners.
Before we close off this blog entry we wanted to express our appreciation to our customers who have supported us through the years and been loyal Arbortech tool users. We look forward to serving you for many more years to come!
If you have any comments or suggestions about Arbortech tools, our company or anything else, we welcome your thoughts and would love to hear from you.
Until then, happy woodworking!