AirBoss MALO Press Operator PaQuana Jones doesn’t like taking the easy road just because it’s easy
She calls that lazy. When work needs to be done, PaQuana is the kind of person who takes on a challenging task headfirst.
PaQuana works in AirBoss’s Auburn Hills, Michigan facility and has been with the company for more than eight years. During that time, she’s served as Press Operator for some of the most challenging jobs at the plant. Her current job molding MALO boots requires a lot of multi-tasking and a lot of precise repetition. PaQuana’s hands-on experience in other roles at AirBoss and her long history of technical work has prepared her for more complex, satisfying projects.
Even during her early days with AirBoss, PaQuana wasn’t satisfied with taking the comfortable route.
“When I started, yes it was extremely hard,” she says when laughing about the hot summer weather and the fast-paced work environment. But she thrives on hard work, and PaQuana chose the hardest press line available.
“When it came time to pick our own presses, I picked that one. I picked the one that no one else was on, and I wanted to master it. And I did it. And once I did, I knew I could do anything else here in the plant.”
Before AirBoss, PaQuana got acquainted with enterprise-level manufacturing and working in jobs that helped other people. Even before graduating high school, she was working in foam fabrication and getting to know the automotive industry. After graduation and a few years in college, she worked for thirteen years as a nurse aide in a nursing home. After the nursing home, PaQuana bought her own semi-truck and spent some time on the open road delivering goods around the country.
But PaQuana wasn’t satisfied, so she went looking for different work. She admits that she’s always enjoyed a challenging job.
The next eight years were spent in a completely different industry as PaQuana worked “throwing trash,” as she puts it, in sanitation in Flint, Michigan. She did this until the company went under, and then she moved back to Pontiac where she’s originally from. PaQuana had a job lined up in waste management when she heard about a manufacturing job at AirBoss that her sister was being offered. Her sister passed on the position, and the rest is history.
“You know how they say every place is not for everybody,” she reflects. “This place wasn’t for her, but it worked out for me. And I started at the perfect time.”
PaQuana appreciates that she’s an important piece of the larger AirBoss production puzzle. She also understands that it’s the human touch and a keen eye for quality that separates successful manufacturers from the competition. That’s why PaQuana works hard to ensure every piece of rubber she touches is as perfect as it can be before it’s sent out to customers.
“It’s like going to purchase a part from AutoZone or O’Reilly’s or someplace like that. You want to make sure that part is as perfect as possible. You don’t want a defective part,” she explains. “I always compare [good manufacturing] to buying a piece of clothing. You don’t want it snagged or torn. You want to make those yourself. You want a perfect piece of clothing. Just like you want a perfect part.”
Since working as Press Operator and with COVID-19 looming, PaQuana has been working on a MALO boot order for the government to serve frontline workers that need personal protective equipment [PPE]. The work is similar in scope to what she’s used to but requires even more scrutiny for quality and precision. It’s a job that’s perfect for someone like PaQuana.
“I like it because I’m helping someone else in the world, too. That matters to me,” she says. “I love to help someone else…I really take pride in doing this.”
“I remember when I first started and saw some [PPE] rubber parts and wondered where those were made. Now, here I am. I’m making those very same parts I saw when I came through the door. It’s an honor.”
PaQuana’s an outgoing person who loves to fish, go kart, and go on adventures. When she isn’t working at AirBoss she’s spending quality time working on her yard at home. PaQuana enjoys watching her grown children succeed, and she recognizes a lot of her own passed-on qualities in their accomplishments.
PaQuana thanks Nick Zahron, Plant Superintendent, for all of his help and support during her time with AirBoss.