Holiday décor is hanging around; radio stations are playing seasonal music; and mall Santas everywhere are back on the grind. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. As advocates for American manufacturing, PMG wants to encourage everyone to consider what they’re buying and where it’s from this gift giving season.

Did you know December is National Made in America Month? President Ronald Reagan’s proclamation made it so in 1985. Yet, every year, as our total average spending has increased during the season, our percentage of dollars spent on American made goods has decreased.

The Facts

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American’s seasonal spending will approach $1,000 in 2019. That’s close to a 4% increase compared to just two years ago. It’s not just gifts and food that are driving that number either. Americans will spend over $200 per person this year on holiday decorations alone.

Total seasonal retail sales could gross over 700 billion dollars in just 2019. That’s more than 70% of the way to one trillion dollars! Some estimates say that keeping all of that money domestically could create over 4 million jobs in the USA. If this seems unattainable, however, experts recommend starting small.

A recent report by ABC’s World News suggests that if Americans each spent a mere $64 of their personal annual holiday budget on goods made in the USA this year, it would create nearly a quarter million domestic jobs alone. In December 2018, just over 300,000 jobs were created across the ENTIRE American economy, meaning we could collectively DOUBLE national job creation for the month by putting just a little forethought into how we spend $64 individually. Amazing!

If you’d like to help grow this economy while crossing off your gift list this holiday season, we’ve found five great Made in America gift lists where you can start your search.

If you’re still wondering why this topic even matters, here’s a link to 10 reasons to shop American made goods from the Made in America Movement.

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

For more information about manufacturing, check out our post Not Our Fathers’ Factories: Manufacturing Truths

Spreading Joy this Holiday Season


‘Giving is not just about making a donation.  It is about making a difference.’

~ Kathy Calvin, President & CEO of the United Nations Foundation


Each quarter, PMG Employees make it our purpose to do our part in this crazy world we live in and do something good for someone in need.  Each quarter feels a little different to everyone, depending on where you’ve been and what you’ve seen in your life.

Our Year in Review

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In Q1 this year, a team of 12 of us threw on our most ridiculous onesie pajama’s and jumped into a frozen lake to support Special Olympics of Minnesota.  My interest in Special Olympics stems back to my early childhood, when my best friends’ brother, Jeffie, was a participant.  In high school, I volunteered at a Special Olympics camp held at Iowa State University, and helped Olympians practice their desired sports, cheered them on, and just let them be them for a few days – no judgement, no second glances, no questions!

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For Q2, we partnered with a local mom who created a non-profit (Sweet Dreams for Kids) after her youngest daughter was born with cancer and spent the next several years in and out of hospitals.  We purchased pajamas and donated them to kids in hospitals, giving them an opportunity to feel a little bit more like a normal kid during a time of uncertainty, fear, discomfort, and what I can only imagine, unbelievable hopefulness.  As a mother myself, my gratitude for my kids’ health cannot be put into words.  I’m thankful every single day for their health, their comfort, and the incredible hope that they will never have to experience such uncertainty and fear.

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Recently, Q3 nicely coincided with the start of the school year. We joined forces with Kids in Need Minnesota to not only stock them up with all the school supplies Minnesota children should need, but 18 of us also donated two hours of our time to pack 1,231 backpacks for those same children.  Remembering back to my early school years, my parents lived paycheck to paycheck. I remember not having the best of school supplies (often handed down from one of my older sisters).  It might sound silly, but the difference between brand-named crayons and generic crayons really did make a difference to a child.  I remember that feeling of dread and embarrassment so vividly and I vowed to never allow my kids to have that same unnecessary shame, no matter how immaterial that sounds.


To close out the calendar year, we are teaming up with an organization called FamilyWise, whose mission is ‘strengthening families by promoting the safety, stability, and well-being of children.’  Through their Adopt-A-Family program, we have adopted three families this holiday season:

  • We have an 18-year-old woman who just went back to school this fall and is expecting a child in early 2020. She currently lives with her mother and four younger siblings.
  • Then, we have twin sisters in their mid-20’s who have five children between them and are looking forward to purchasing a home in 2020.
  • Finally, we have a young mother of four who just moved to Minnesota to be closer to family. They will be experiencing their first Minnesota winter (starting this week if the weather man has it right).

For each of these families, I choked up going through their wish lists.  While there is the sporadic request for a board game, slime making kit, or some sort of electronic device, the majority of their requests are basic human necessities: socks, personal hygiene supplies, warm winter mittens, hats, and boots.

I’m honored to share, that through an anonymous donation, we will easily be able to purchase everything on their wish lists and more.  Knowing that 19 women, boys, and girls will be smiling from ear to ear on Christmas morning is a gift in and of itself, and knowing that I have some little part in that is so incredibly fulfilling.

Working for a company whose mission is literally to help people on a daily basis, these special little side projects are so rewarding.  I hope you’ll take a moment this holiday season to think about someone less fortunate than you, and without putting thought into how they got to where they are or passing judgement on their situation, just consider doing something good, something that will make a difference.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season!

If you’re interested in learning more about FamilyWise, check out their website at

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

Posted in CSR

Five Tips to Improve Your Communication at Work

No matter where you work, communication plays a critical role in getting the job done. In today’s world, we have several ways to communicate – in-person, email, instant messenger, video, phone – the list could go on and on. We also communicate with others who have different communication styles and interpret our message differently.

If communication is so important to our day-to-day, how can we improve the way we have conversations with various communication styles while using different types of communication platforms? Here is a list of tips on how to improve your communication at work.

Prepare what you want to communicate

When there isn’t a clear direction for the conversation to go, it can be difficult to make sure our main message is heard. Here are some points on how to prepare for future conversations.

  • Know what you want to achieve from the conversation. Ask yourself – what’s the point of this message? If you know what your endgame is, it is easier to communicate to others.
  • Identify what key points you want the other to walk away with. Think of this like a list. Often, this list will include who, what, where, when, why and how. Determine these points and align them with your endgame.

Understand your audience

We all interpret messages differently and have a preference on how we like receiving information. Here are some points to think about when trying to understand your audience.

  • Identify how the other person receives information. Do they like a lot of detail and knowing the whole story behind the topic? Do they prefer a more direct approach – short, sweet and to the point? If you haven’t heard of the communication quadrant, check it out! This quadrant helps identify how individuals receive information based on some of their observable traits.
  • Determine what information is most relevant to your audience. Based on how the other person receives information, you’ll be able to identify what information from the list of who, what, where, when, why and how is most important to share.

Communicate clearly and effectively

Now that we know what we want to say and we understand the best way to share it with our audience, we need to communicate it clearly. Here are some points to make sure your message is clear.

  • Say what you need to say and be done. Sometimes, we find ourselves rambling for the sake of being heard or for the sake of showing just how much we know. This is ineffective and the key points you want your audience to walk away with will get lost. Keep your message on point and limit any unnecessary rambling.
  • Communicate one message at a time. If you have multiple messages to communicate to the same person, how do you make sure all those messages are received? In a face-to-face meeting with someone, let them know upfront that you have three topics you want to cover and cover each one separately. In an email, separate topics with bold headings or send separate emails. Each message has its own endgame; make sure to communicate each message one at a time.

Pick up on non-verbal cues

While we’re not always aware of it, we communicate with others using body language and actions. Here are some points on how to pick up on some common non-verbal cues you might experience at work.

  • Be aware of body language. Have you ever been in a meeting with someone and they’re leaning back in their chair, arms crossed, and they’re looking quizzically at you? Perhaps you’re in a room of people and see some sitting up straight, making eye contact with the speaker, while others have their head propped up on one arm and slouching over the table. We can infer a lot from people’s body language and make assumptions of how to best communicate based on how engaged their body language appears.
  • Look for the watch check. What does it mean when someone is checking their watch while having a conversation with you? Often, this means they have another meeting to get to and don’t want to be late. It could also mean they’re busy and don’t have time for a long story. Whatever it means, if someone is checking their watch, they’re time conscious for a reason and you need to make your point quickly. Watch for the signals and be courteous of other people’s time.

Listen actively

Half of communicating with someone is about listening and being engaged. Here are some points to show you’re actively listening and engaged.

  • Nod occasionally. Giving the occasional head nod lets the speaker know you’re still with them, listening and absorbing the information they’re sharing. However, be careful with excessive nodding. If you’re constantly nodding, like a bobble-head, this will appear disingenuous and give the opposite effect.
  • Acknowledge points of agreement and disagreement. You’re not always going to agree with the information shared, but when you do, point it out to the speaker by saying, “Bob makes a good point about project X needing more support.” When you don’t agree, you can say something along the lines of, “I see where you’re coming from Bob, but I don’t exactly agree. Can we talk about this a little more?” Acknowledging points the speaker makes shows you are engaged and actively partaking in the conversation.


Want more tips from PMG? Check out our article on Phone Interview Tips!

Meet this month’s employee spotlight, Rodney, a PMG Manufacturing Tech working his fourth PMG project. Learn more about him in the Q&A session below!

How long have you been working in manufacturing?

I used to work military law enforcement and then got into security for contract projects at manufacturers. Then, I got myself onto the production side in some positions with labor dispute projects about 10 years ago. I did replacement work for a long time before getting into contract projects. My first PMG project was last year.

What drew you to the trade?

I really enjoy doing things that keep me busy and let me do things I’m good at. I like to do things that produce something I can look at and say I did that, I made that. I like the travel, the production, not being bored, the money, and learning. I like all of it.

Have you had any formal training?

Most of my manufacturing training has been on-the-job training. I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades. I started with home improvement working with a friend. I really do a little bit of everything and like continuing to pick up new knowledge and training while I’m working.

Before working at PMG, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

Working at American Crystal Sugar in North Dakota, I was the Lime Kiln Foreman and I cross-trained a lot of positions. Over the course of 12 months, you learn every single thing about the process of how a sugar beet comes out of the ground and then turns into granulated sugar after so many different steps. You would never think so much was involved and so many different products were made just to make the packet you get at Starbucks. Otherwise, maybe guarding VIPs in Honduras when I was in the military.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

The interactions. There is more interaction with this company than any company I’ve worked for before. I’ve never worked for a company that is this hands-on. It’s not the kind of hands-on that is trying to keep tabs or something; it’s the kind that disseminates information down the chain. Here, the guy at the bottom is going to hear from the top when they do a good job and I appreciate that. When you do a good job for a company and actually get appreciated for that, it’s the best and I appreciate that. When I have a question, it gets addressed, always from all departments. Project Management, payroll… you guys are just awesome. I’m truly lucky to work for PMG and I don’t want to work for anybody else. PMG does what it can to make things possible and comfortable. PMG is like a support mechanism. All I have to do is a good job and everything else is you guys (PMG).

What is one thing you miss or wish you had with you while on the road?

I wish I could do the work I do, get the pay I get and have it be closer to home, but after being in the military, you get used to it.

How do you balance your career at PMG and family?

If you’re in a relationship and you have a decent foundation, you can make this work. It’s also the best knowing that you have the option to travel with your significant other.

What are some career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

Some of the best career lessons I’ve gotten was from the military and I’ve carried it on. I’m used to people being where they’re supposed to be and doing what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. We’re all in this together and the more we help each other, the better we all do. Team work needs a team.

When you’re not working, what sort of hobbies do you like to do in your free time?

At home, I have twin 3-year old grandsons and they’re a handful. I spend a lot of time with them and with my fiance. I belong to and am involved with an ELK lodge at home. I like a good card game, a good pool game and I’m the master at dominoes. I’m a die-hard Patriots fan. When I’m out on a job, I like to keep it business. I take advantage of things at the hotel like the hot tub or grilling, but that’s about it when I’m working.

What is something fun you’re looking forward to in 2019?

My fiance and I are moving into our first home together this December and I haven’t seen my mom in almost 3 years. I’m planning on surprising her with a visit this winter after my current project wraps up.


In honor of Veteran’s Day this month, we’d like to send a special thanks to Rodney for his time in the service. We’d also like to thank the other men and women at PMG who’ve served in our country’s armed forces.


“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”

-Abraham Lincoln