If you’re in the construction trades these days, the story of Jay Rogell may ring familiar: In order to make ends meet as a general contractor who works with concrete and carpentry, he goes wherever there’s work. That could be Wasco, Bakersfield, Las Vegas or Yuba City.
Or it could be working on the Nacimiento Water Project for three years, or remodeling the house next to ours, which is how I learned of Jay’s story as it came trickling out over the past month or so.
Jay was born in Torrance and moved to Paso Robles with his parents in 1986. He subsequently met and married Michelle Scobie, who is a member of the Parkfield ranching Scobies.
When Michelle’s grandmother died, the Parkfield ranch was sold, and Jay and Michelle bought an 8-acre ranch in Creston.
Now, if you know anything about cattle ranching on the Central Coast, the Scobie name is synonymous with horsemanship. And that’s undoubtedly the genetic code that was passed down to Jay and Michelle’s children, Ryan, 16, and Chelsea, 7.
Although Ryan’s a good horseman and involved with Atascadero High School’s FFA program, he’s a little more prone to whumping around on his 4-wheel-drive quad, while his sister has already established herself as a gymkhana queen, posting winning times beyond her age bracket.
The point here is that Jay’s a hard-working guy who wants the best for his family, and, paradoxically, doing so may take him away from his young family for weeks at a time. It’s a conundrum in which he seems to have come to grips — yet it doesn’t make it any easier for him, Michelle or the kids.
But there’s something else to Jay Rogell’s story: He’s an inventor, with patents to prove it. As it turns out, necessity is the mother of invention, at least as far as his carpentry is concerned.
“I started out making a tool so I wouldn’t have to make a template each time,” he explains. The device he created is (take a deep breath) an obtuse angle range adjustable square assembly.
“I kept making my own tools,” he explains. “After trusses are rolled on a roof, you have to cut the tails, we normally make a wooden template to mark the tails to the roof pitch. To eliminate having to make the template, that’s where the square came into play.”
The other patent is a fascia board support and finishing tool, created so one person can install and repair fascia alone.
“In today’s construction world,” he explains, “you can’t always depend on a job affording to have two guys on the job.”
So, he had the idea and a niche that needed filling. Now he had to take his tools beyond the prototype stage. A chance encounter with Creston resident Jack Baker filled that next step.
“I was at the (Mid-State) Fair in 2006 where my son was showing a sheep, and had mentioned to Mr. Baker about wanting to develop some tools. He pulled out a keychain with a little wagon engraved into it and he said that’s what his son did and that he, Mr. Baker, could do the engineering and write the program at his house in Creston in exchange for construction on his house.”
The trade was made, and the design patents are complete, the utility patent on the square is complete, the utility patent on the fascia board hanger is still pending due to wording to come from his patent lawyer.
The tools are milled aluminum, and although I’ve got an untrained eye, are professional.
“Nothing is mass-produced yet; I ran out of money.”
But who knows? There may be an entrepreneur out there who’s interested in taking his tools to the next level. He can be reached at 610-1966.
In the final tally, Jay Rogell has to travel around the state, working long hours while being away from his family for extended periods in an effort to make ends meet. His toolbox — of knowledge as well as patents — has expanded as the construction industry has contracted.
I’d wish him good luck on his future ventures, but I think he’s the kind of guy who’d rather forge his own luck and fortune. Just the same, good luck, Jay.
Bill Morem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 781-7852.