Celese Pauley, GRI South East Regional Sales Manager
My work career began at the age of 17 as the receptionist for Furon Metal Gaskets in Houston. I remember the gentleman running the company (Mike Blake) was standing behind me when I took a call. The person on the other end of the line asked if they could speak to a fluid sealing specialist. I politely let them know that we did not handle fluid sealing products at our plant. We make gaskets and hung up. I thought Mike was going to explode. He said, “What the HECK do you think a gasket is???” I said I didn’t really know and from there he made sure I did. He started feeding me literature to read. Then he had me work in the shop for a few months learning how to make gaskets, and then moved me into customer service.
After a short while, I moved to Louisiana and ended up going to work for another gasket manufacturer in inside sales. Shortly after I had the opportunity to come back to Houston and work at their new location they were just starting up.
I took a few roles over the years working on the distribution side, allowing me to learn about other products such as packing, mechanical seals, expansion joints, fasteners, conveyor belts, hoses, etc. I was grateful to be able to learn so much about so many different things, but my passion always stayed with gaskets and more specifically on the manufacturing side.
Throughout my career, and still in my mid 20’s, I worked in customer service and further progressed into outside sales. I called on chemical, refinery, pharmaceutical plants and more. Without a doubt it had its pros and cons, but to me the pro’s outweighed the cons. I learned very quickly to be honest about what you don’t know and to learn from anyone willing to give you the time. Also, never be embarrassed to ask a question. More often than not I had so many great people that helped mentor me, rather than criticize me. Most of those I still call my friend today.
Here I am, a little over 30 years later, and I am still learning, and loving what I do! Being able to help distributors grow their business, working closely with them, within their different industries, and helping to solve their problems is very rewarding. So many of them truly have become like family and their trust is truly something I take very personally.
One of my most rewarding opportunities is to be able to teach distributors and end users how to properly install a Durlon® gasket using our FADU rig. More often than not a leak or failure is blamed on the gasket, so being able to help educate what causes a gasket to fail and what to look for becomes very useful to all parties involved. I have been fortunate enough to travel to paper mills, chemical plants, and refineries, just to name a few and have taught at least 60 to 70 classes. Being able to discuss with them what a bolted joint assembly is, the overall role it plays in the success of a gasket performing correctly, what to look for if there is a gasket failure, helping to understand the role of the fastener and the importance of a good lubrication is extremely rewarding.
Being a woman can definitely have its advantages in a mostly male dominant industry, but trust me when I say, it definitely has had its challenges. It’s very important to remain professional, while at the same time not taking yourself too seriously. Most importantly of all… Know your stuff. You will be challenged at some point or another.