Sports history is being rewritten at the time I write this column. U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps has become the winningest Olympic athlete of all time with 14 gold medals, the latest coming at the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China. This accomplishment has him surpassing the elite company of sprinter Carl Lewis and swimmer Mark Spitz. Phelps’ eight gold medals have come with seven world records, and he broke Spitz’s record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics.

According to an article by Pamela Barone on the NBC Olympics site, “Any comparison of Phelps and Spitz begins with the fact that, since 1972 the sport of swimming has become infinitely more competitive. Swimmers from around the world are now competitive on an international level. Times are faster, technology is better, the competition is stiffer and more diverse.”

That’s no different than what many manufacturers are up against in remaining competitive with their products, and we atQualityMagazine recognize that fact.

While no world records will be broken in the process,QualityMagazine does have its own Olympics of sorts-theQualityPlant and Professional of the Year awards.

TheQualityPlant of the Year award is open to manufactur-ing plants in the United States. The plant must be involved in making and measuring, testing or inspect-ing discrete parts. We’re looking for plants that have applied world-class quality technology, equipment, ser-vices and techniques that result in reducing scrap, rework, warranty or manufacturing costs, improve productivity or cycle time, increase capacity or improve adherence to quality standards.

Past Plant of the Year recipients include Diamond Electric, Kenworth Truck Co., Accurate Gauge & Manufacturing Inc., Freightliner’s Mt. Holly, NC, Truck Manufacturing Plant and Ford’s Van Dyke Transmission Plant.

Through its individual awards program,QualityMagazine recognizes an individual who, during the course of his/her career, has made outstanding contributions to the quality profession. Applicants for the Professional of the Year award are judged on leadership, achievements, application, service and awards.

Past Professional of the Year recipients include Dr. Roderick Munro, Jim L. Smith and Peter Sanderson.

The 2009 Plant and Professional of the Year will be recognized at theQualityMeasurement Conference at its new location in Orlando, FL, May 4-7, 2009. For more information on the conference, visit

The deadline for nominations for bothQualityPlant and Professional of the Year is November 10. Nomination forms can be downloaded at While you’re there, take a few minutes to read the articles on the past Plant and Professional of the Year recipients.

TheQualityPlant and Professional of the Year awards have one other thing over the Olympics-there’s no need to wait four years to compete.