Seeding Success

Hard work pays off in the form of a quality career

by Tamara L. Payne

Remember me? In the August 2008 issue of QP, I wrote about my "Rocky Start" in quality.1

Back then, I wrote about how my early life had been one mistake after another. When I was 15, my family moved to a new town. By 16, I had quit school. By 17, I was married. At 18 years old, I was divorced with a child.

That’s when I decided to turn things around, and life finally became a welcome challenge.

Life lessons

I started by getting my first job working in a small machine shop in Ohio. I became interested in the work I was doing and started to learn more about it. I earned my GED and then an associate’s degree in accounting.

After gaining more experience by moving from Ohio to Texas and then back to Ohio, I became involved with ASQ and became an ASQ-certified quality technician. By this time, I was working as a quality manager in a metal stamping company that, unfortunately, had to close its doors.

Suddenly, I found myself looking for new opportunities. My prior experience included work in the aerospace and oilfield industries, at a service company and in set-up and maintenance. Thankfully, the combination of work experience, education and training I worked so hard to achieve paid off and led me to a new and exciting position.

You will not believe what I am doing now.

New adventures

Today, I work as an administrative quality manager and laboratory technician at Bailey-PVS Oxides, where I use my education and training every day to do my job.

Bailey-PVS Oxides regenerates acid used to clean metals and processes it to remove the impurities. We produce and sell the ferric oxide removed during the regeneration process in the form of iron oxide.

In other words, we sell rust. To my surprise, it is quite the commodity and is used for a multitude of products, including color pigments, magnet manufacturing and cosmetics.

I bet you’re wondering: "How could rust have quality specifications?" Well, it does. Just like any other material or product, rust has a defined fitness for use that takes into account attributes such as porosity, particle size, chemical composition and magnetic properties.

When most people think of rust, they think of it as a problem, not something wanted or useful. But here at Bailey-PVS Oxides, we think: "Is it to spec? Can we improve the quality? Can we produce enough product for the demand?"

For me, this is the challenging—and fascinating—part of my job. While my past experience involved metals and precision measuring equipment, such as micrometers, calipers and height gages, I am now working in a wet lab, which is a drastically different environment. The equipment, not to mention the chemical tests that need to be done, is so different than anything I was used to doing.

Just to monitor the process has been a learning experience. It is a unique process that starts with spent pickle liquor and ends as regenerated acid. This process also involves testing. I have not had the opportunity to be a part of this yet, but I hope to in the near future.

Admittedly, I was extremely disappointed when the last company I worked for closed. But this new endeavor has opened up a lot of new doors for me. I am thankful to my previous employer, Eric, for referring me to my current employer, Craig. (Thanks guys!)

Promising future

Today, I am proud to say I have a full life. I love my job and raising my two teenage boys. I plan to take the ASQ quality engineer certification exam. Sometime down the road, I’m contemplating taking chemistry courses to enhance my education even further.

It may have been a rocky start for me, but as Kaoru Ishikawa said, "Failure is the seed to success."


  1. Tamara L. Payne, "Rocky Start," Quality Progress, August 2008, p. 61.

Tamara L. Payne is an administrative quality manager and laboratory technician at Bailey-PVS Oxides in Delta, OH. She received her associate’s degree in accounting from NRI, McGraw Hill Continuing Education Center in Washington, D.C. Payne is a senior member of ASQ and a certified quality technician.

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