Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Quality doesn't cost, it pays

(Oxford Dictionaries, 2015; ReciteThis, 2015)
Last week I heard a saying about quality that I had never heard before - which surprised me, as I have a background in quality management. The phrase was "quality doesn't cost; it pays".

I was immediately intrigued. OK, it was one of those one-line, glib responses that we humans love, but because I hadn't heard it before, I wanted to know who had said it originally. So I went digging.

Man, I love Google and Google Scholar!

While not the originator for the phrase, Thomas Eagar said "Quality doesn't cost, it pays" in an article for Materials Evaluation in 1993. Gaskill, a Property Management and Realty company, investigated registering a similar quote as a strap-line in 1987 and got a trademark in 1998 as "Effective property management doesn't cost - it pays", but let this expire in 1995.

Before Gaskill, and shifting back to quality, the Editor for Production Engineering said "Quality doesn't cost. It pays for itself" in an article about inspection methods in 1981.

But it is older than that too. Charles wrote an pamphlet for the US University Cooperative Extension Service in 1975 entitled "The Quality control in the feed mill it doesn't cost - it pays". But this too was not the source.

The phrase is older than the 1970s. Thus far I have tracked it back to Martin Donenfield in in an April 1956 article about management. Martin said "Atop one of New York's tall buildings a sign proclaims that 'management doesn't cost - it pays'." (p. 357).

Martin was apparently the first to amend the phrase, changing it in his article to read "scientific management doesn't cost - it pays". Not about quality... aside from the implied quality of taking a rational, scientific approach to management as a profession.

Because of Martin's mention, we know that the quote is older too his article in 1956: but Martin is silent on what the building was, and on what the purpose of the sign was. In fact, there is nothing showing online before 1956.

It would be nice to know what building this quote graced, who wrote it, and why.

    • Charles, O.W. (1975). The Quality control in the feed mill it doesn't cost--it pays. February 1975, 215. USA: University Cooperative Extension Service. 
    • Donenfeld, Martin J.(1956). Sociology as a Management Science. Journal of Educational Sociology, April, 1956, Volume 29, issue 8 (pp. 357-360).
    • Eagar, Thomas W. (1993). Evolving Manufacturing Practices: Lessons for the Quality Control Engineer. Materials Evaluation, October 1993, Volume 51, issue 10 (pp. 1184-1187)
    • Gaskill Realty Services Corporation (1987). Trademark EFFECTIVE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT DOESN'T COST, IT PAYS! Retrieved 2 July 2015 from 
    • Oxford Dictionaries (2015). Definition of Etymology. Retrieved 2 July 2015 from
    • ReciteThis (2015). Recite: Enter your Quote. Retrieved 2 July 2015 from 
    • The Editor (1981). Heating up productivity with innovative inspection methods. Production Engineering, September 1981 (pp. 74-77).

    1 comment :

    1. Thank you, much appreciated for your article & time, cheers, sinna