The Right Formula

Travis NelsonIt may not be the field that every young chemist sees himself or herself entering, but over the last six years, I’ve found my niche in the gases and welding industry. In 2004, I received my B.S. in Chemistry from Montana State University – Bozeman and shortly thereafter, I took a job as a chemist with a specialty gas company near Houston, Texas. I spent just over two years with the company, learning the ins and outs of the specialty gas business. Then, in 2007, I left the company to pursue an opportunity with ILMO Products Company in Jacksonville, Illinois.

It wasn’t an easy decision to pull up my roots in Texas and head north, but there were things about the company that really drew me in. ILMO had a solid eye toward advancing its specialty gases Program and was showing a willingness to invest in making it happen. It also had an outstanding level of internal talent, so I knew I could learn a lot. Overall, it seemed like a great opportunity for me to help a burgeoning program and I decided to jump on it.

Now, as the company’s Specialty Gas Lab Manager, I’m working every day to grow this department. My day-to-day responsibilities consist of a lot of lab work. I blend specialty gas mixtures, usually gravimetrically and then analyze those mixtures. Typically, the analysis consists of running a gas blend through a gas chromatograph or a process analyzer to confirm its content. It’s a critical step in ensuring that we’re able to provide customers with the product they need within the tolerances they require.

Since the results of these tests are so critical to providing the right mix, data recording is paramount. That’s another aspect of the process I oversee. At ILMO, the lab is ISO 17025:2005 certified. The certification regulates how we calibrate our instruments and scales, record our data and conduct our analyses. It focuses our process and forces us to constantly look for ways to do things better and more efficiently.

Process improvement is something we’re very intent on. As an individual I’m continuously focused on improving everything I do and it’s great to work for a company that shares the sentiment. To be part of a company that is continuously moving forward is inspiring, and I’m motivated daily when I see that my department contributes to the growth of ILMO and its customers.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Travis Nelson Meet the Author
Travis Nelson is Specialty Gas Manager for ILMO Products Company, located in Jacksonville, IL, and on the Web at