Technician Spotlight with PMG CNC Programmer Tai V.

How long have you been working in manufacturing?

I started almost 15 years ago. I worked for small companies and some of the biggest companies in the oil & gas industry. I’ve done a lot of that work, some aerospace, some marine, a little bit of everything really, but lots of oil & gas!

What drew you to the trade?

I was going to college and started a family early. With having a family, I needed to get to work and needed a good wage. I like to work with and fix things. It was a good fit for me because I enjoy math and I’m good at it, so it all came together.

Have you had any formal training?

Mostly it was all hands on, on-the-job, training. I love to learn new things. I started in tool grinding then I went to QC (Quality Control) and learned how to measure and work in precision inspection. From there, I got into machining and started with manual mills and lathes. When I proved to be a quick learner, I got into CNC machining and the rest was history. I love mill and lathe work. I really like the new, advanced, hybrid machines that are coming out. Once you understand the control, you can tell the machine to do whatever you want it to do.

What would you say to a young person considering the skilled trades?

It’s always awesome to make things. In the machining world, we’re the ones that make everything and the ones that make anything. Everything that isn’t grown is made and, if you like to learn new things, this is a great career for you because the learning never stops.

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

Safety comes before anything. You have to work safe and make sure those around you work safe. You don’t want to get hurt or see anyone else get hurt. I try hard to learn from other people’s mistakes so I don’t have the same issue. I like to learn and I do that with my skills, my knowledge, even good habits and best practices. You should take initiative, do things and make it happen, but you have to follow the rules while you do it. Rules are there for a reason. Always. I don’t break rules but I try to pay enough attention to be able to innovative within them. To be a leader, you have to lead by example and you have to stay within the rules to lead by example.

How did you first learn about PMG?

I was looking for different work when I saw an ad online. I hadn’t really thought about this kind of work (travel/project/contract) before then. That’s mostly because I was only familiar with local temp-work. Then I found PMG and I was tired of doing the same thing, in the same place, so the travel and variety of work interested me. I like learning and problem solving. I really like getting into new industries, facilities and companies. Production machining is fine but it doesn’t give me the chance to do the things, trouble-shoot and improve processes, that I really excel at. Use new tools, improve programs, train people – those are the things I’m good at. I get to do all of that on this project.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

I like that it’s always something different. It lets me get into different places industry-wise and area wise. One thing I will say I like about PMG are things like this spotlight interview and the Technician of the Quarter award. I’ve worked a lot of places where you’ll hear about it if someone thinks you did a bad job but nobody ever takes the time to say you did a good job, let alone interview you to find out more about you because you did. PMG does and I appreciate that a lot.

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

Actually, it was all similar stuff and not that interesting to me until I got to PMG. Now, I get to explore. I’d never really traveled widely before. It’s also more interesting machining then I had ever been on. It makes the work more interesting too. Being somewhere new, I get to do a bit more exploring in my off-time compared to at home. I actually got into mountain biking here because New York is a lot more uneven terrain than my part of Texas. I’ve gotten onto a lot of trails here compared to road biking back at home.

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

COVID makes it really tough right now to really “balance” things (between work and family). With travel being more difficult, it’s hard to get back and forth from my project, on my off-time. Phone, text, and Facetime help though. Technology is amazing!

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

I LOVE fishing. Last December, I took a tuna trip right before I left for this project. I like the air and the water. It’s all great and relaxing. The biggest fish I ever caught was probably a 10-foot shark, but my favorite fish to catch, and to eat, is flounder. Applying attention and knowledge to the process is really similar between fishing and machining too, I think.

What is something fun you’re looking forward to in 2020?

My family. I miss my family a LOT! This has been a long project. Coronavirus has made it seem even longer, so I’m really looking forward to seeing my family. My kids, my grandma, my mom, my wife… I can’t wait to see them all in-person again.

Back to school, with two kids, in the midst of COVID-19, is an incredibly different experience.

What’s Changing This Year?

School Supplies – We’re shopping for half the supplies because we can finally use leftovers from previous years. (Que the eye roll. We reused my school supplies every year when I was kid.)

School Clothes – We’re clothes shopping on-line, which doesn’t elicit nearly as much excitement.

COVID-19 Supplies We’re stocking up on hand sanitizer and face masks to stay safe in a hybrid-model system.

Feelings About the Hybrid Model – They’re bummed they won’t see some of their friends because of how the district split up each school.

Transportation – We’re still figuring out the bus situation (to bus or not to bus – that is the question).

Teacher Information – It’s almost the end of August and we don’t know who their teachers are yet.

Remote Schooling – We wonder if the distance learning will be as tricky as it was in the spring.

What’s Not Changing This Year?

With all the uncertainty that’s coming along with the start of the 20/21 school year, some things won’t change.

Photos – The start of a new school year still means the obligatory first day of school photos all over social media.

One Year Older – Our kids are getting older; they’re growing taller; they’re adventuring out into new activities like cross country and tennis (social distance friendly); they’ll be making new friends and developing new crushes; they’ll be learning new facts about new things that are sure to blow their minds.

While COVID-19 has shifted how we think about so many things, we still have so much to look forward to and be thankful for.  Keeping a positive attitude is the best way for us to help our kids ease back into the school year, even during these uncertain times.

For each of you venturing into the new school year with your own children, PMG wishes you health, happiness, and lots of A+’s.

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

PMG wants to break up the bland monotony of the brown bag by improving break time for the American workforce one lunchbox at a time. No matter where it happens, production is powered by people who are fueled by food. We want you to feed yourself with something that makes you feel better and we have tips, tricks, and recipes to make that possible! If you missed last month’s lunchbox hack, check it out on our blog page now.


Break time, COVID restrictions in the cafeteria, and questionable cleanliness for the microwave and other communal appliances can cause more complications during lunchtime. With all of this in mind, it’s important to keep your meal prep simple. When cooking dinner at home, make enough to use those ingredients for lunch the next day.

Pro Tip: Pre-cooking meals is even more convenient if you can eat your ingredients without reheating.


Put it on a stick. Here in Minnesota, home of the largest state fair in America (you heard that right, Texas!) we know that literally anything is better when served on a skinny piece of wood, bamboo, or metal (like these flexible skewers). The same principle applies to your lunchbox. No matter what you ate the night before, we promise it will prep, pack, and eat better from a stick the next day. Just think deconstructed- Taco Tuesday with the family sounds a lot like Southwest Skewers the next day for lunch.


If you consider yourself to be a steak and potatoes person, try this easy 3-step kabob recipe \ for dinner. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, consider some meat-less protein alternatives in lieu of steak and also read our How It’s Made blog on plant-based burgers. Either way, be sure to make enough so you can pack some for an all-in-one, no-heat lunch the next day. However, you might get some envious stares from your coworkers. Maybe think about bringing extras!

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

Negotiate Your Pay With Confidence!

It’s been said over and over – the year 2020 has been a wild ride! We’ve experienced a pandemic that has forced us to reconsider many things, including our jobs and careers. Whether you’ve been forced to reassess your job or career due to an unplanned job loss and unemployment, or if you’re currently employed but reevaluating your goals and ideals, one of the most important items to consider is your compensation and benefits package. No matter what your reason is for changing your compensation and benefits package, be prepared to negotiate. If the idea of the negotiation table scares you, follow the tips below and you’ll walk in confident and strong.

Do your research

Search online for any pay details specific to the company as well as overall pay summaries for the position/job title. A good place to start is the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Know how the company is doing as a whole. Did the pandemic, or any other industry trends, recently affect the organization? Has the organization experienced recent changes to their business model or staff? You can find details like these and more on the company’s website, social media pages and by asking anyone in your network who is well-acquainted with the company.

Know who you are

Think about what makes you the best fit for the job. What experience can you bring to the job that others don’t, or can’t, bring? Think outside the box on this one and write it down. List the ways you bring value to the team and also the reasons why you’re worth the cost. We may be living in uncertain times but you can absolutely be certain of your value and be confident when you negotiate your pay.

Determine what you want

It can be anything – pay & salary, health care benefits, a flexible schedule, the ability to work remotely. Negotiations aren’t just about money anymore. Go for it all but pick the one thing you want most.  Also, have reasons for your requests. Be ready to explain why your request is justified.

Be flexible

If achieving your number one goal just isn’t possible for the company, but you really want the job, don’t give up. Go for the next item or two on the list of what you want. For example, if there’s no room for higher pay or the salary you desire, then negotiate for more working hours, a signing bonus, or more paid time off.

Find mutual benefits

Persuading someone into anything is a lot easier if the other person benefits. Frame your conversation and negotiations as mutually beneficial. How does the company benefit by hiring you and not someone else? If you completed steps one and two above, determining this should be fairly simple. If you sell them on why they need you, rather than why you need them, you’re likely to be more successful in negotiations.


For more information, check out this article by the Harvard Business Review titled 15 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer. To get started, complete this Salary Negotiation Worksheet. Once you spend some time evaluating your worth, and understanding just what you want or need, the negotiation room won’t be so scary.

Want more career tips from PMG? Check out our post Phone Interview Tips.

Kim Mooney, Technical Coach & Manager

There is an old adage in which the question is begged: what makes a sandwich, a sandwich? If you consider the definition from Merriam Webster, a sandwich is:

  1. Two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between
  2. One slice of bread covered with food

Does that mean a hot dog is a sandwich? What about a burger – is that a sandwich? Ask anyone this question and you’ll receive a myriad of answers. Some may argue what holds the filling is what determines a sandwich, while others will argue the filling is what determines the sandwich-ness of something. If we are talking filling, does it matter if it’s animal byproduct or peanut butter and jelly? What about plant-based meats?

Regardless of what constitutes a sandwich in your mind, it’s summertime here in Minnesota and, as soon as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, you’ll find us firing up our grills for some delicious foods. Pretty much anything can be grilled these days, including Balsamic Honey Peaches with Feta (which, if you haven’t tried, I highly-recommend you do) but a common staple is the hamburger.

A new trend in burgers (and meat overall) is the creation of plant-based meats. Foods like the Impossible Burger or any of the products made by Beyond Meat. This got us wondering – how are plant-based burgers made? This brings us to this month’s edition of How It’s Made with PMG.

When looking at the production of these burgers, it’s important to not only look at the equipment used but also the ingredients.


  1. Heme
  2. Plant Proteins
  3. Compounds
  4. Fat

Ingredient #1: Heme

Heme is largely what gives animal-based meat its flavor.

Heme lives in globin. Hemoglobin is its name when referring to blood.  Myglobin is its name when referring to muscle. Leghemoglobin is its name when referring to plants like soy roots. The globin in soy and the globin from animal muscle are similar in structure.

Although soy root globin matches that of animal muscle globin, it’s still very taxing on our natural resources and environment to grow soybeans for the purpose of yielding the globin and thus the heme.

Therefore, we can get heme from a variety of sources, but when looking at a plant-based heme, we have to consider the environmental and natural resources it takes to grow the plant. Although the heme from soy roots is very similar to that of the heme from animal muscle globin, it’s far too taxing to grow the soy for the purpose of yielding heme. Therefore, scientists decided to engineer the soy root heme rather than take it from its natural resource. This engineering is done through the modification of Pichia pastoris yeast. To modify, add yeast, sugar and minerals. This prompts the growth of heme. This is the ingredient in plant-based burgers that provides the flavor.

Ingredient #2: Compounds

plant based burgers 1To create the aroma, we have to recreate the wide-variety of compounds that animal-based beef has within it. In order to determine the compounds in animal-based beef and the general makeup of the compounds, a process called Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry is used. Determining the makeup of these compounds has allowed us to engineer the compounds in a lab and then use in the making of plant-based burgers.

Ingredient #3: Proteins

Texture in animal-based beef comes from protein. Additional science tests and analysis identify the specific makeup of the protein in ground beef. Once this analysis was complete, scientists were able to find the same proteins in plants. The proteins found in wheat and potatoes give firmness, chew and the ability to hold water.

Ingredient #4: Fat

Coconut with flavor removed.


Manufacturing equipment processes these ingredients through a variety of thermal and mechanical stresses. Through rapid heating and cooling, the structures of the ingredients change and blend. Machinery extrudes the product in its final shape. In this case, it’s is a hamburger patty.


With all that said, I bring back the question of what makes a sandwich, a sandwich and is a hamburger a sandwich? Does your answer change if the filling between the bun is plant-based?

For similar posts, check out our How It’s Made – Hand Sanitizer article!

Summer 2020 is a scorcher and your summer utilities might be feeling the pressure to keep up. Here are a few ways to save your wallet from the high utility bills hot summers can bring.

Use the AC only when you need to

When it’s hot, I like to crank the air conditioning and enjoy relaxing and sleeping in a cold space. However, summer is also filled with trips and plans that might take you away from your home for days at a time. While you’re out, give your AC a break and turn up the house temperature a few degrees. This will help conserve energy and provide savings on your electricity bill.

Clean your vents and AC unit

It’s important to keep your vents and air conditioner clean because build up can cause your AC unit to run harder than it needs to. This results in more energy spent and a higher electricity bill. Depending on your unit, you can do some DIY cleaning using a garden hose and some rags. For your vents, look into some local companies who provide vent cleaning services and make sure you’re changing your filters regularly. If you have pets, I highly recommend getting your vents cleaned annually. These actions will not only help with your electricity bill, but also improve the air quality in your home.

Take advantage of what nature offers you

When mother nature provides your summer utilities some relief, take advantage of it! Open your windows on those cooler days and nights. Adjust your sprinkler system’s schedule when it rains. Taking advantage of mother nature’s gifts can help save your equipment and your wallet.

Invest in sun-blocking shades and drapes

Blinds and drapes are more than just decorative house pieces; they’re decorations that can provide savings on your summer utilities. According to Smart Energy, blinds can reduce heat gain in your home up to 45 percent. Likewise, drapes can also reduce heat gain by 33 percent. With that said, close the blinds and pull the drapes on those warm, sunny days to keep your home cooler and your bills down.

Know how the sun impacts your lawn.

If you have a lot of tree coverage to provide shade, your lawn might grow slower and need less water because it’s not as impacted by the sun. If your lawn gets a lot of sun, try keeping grass a little longer to protect the roots and soil from drying out. Also, watering in the morning and evening when the sun is at it’s lowest can help the ground absorb the water it needs to make it through a sunny day. Every lawn is different and therefore, might require different maintenance and care taking. By knowing how the sun impacts your lawn, you can better understand its water needs and determine where you can save on water and energy costs.


For more information on how to save your utilities from overuse and your wallet from overspending, check out 17 tips to save water, reduce bill in summer and 13 Tricks to Cut Down on Summer Utility Bills.


Looking for more tips this summer? Check out our post on Summer Safety

PMG provides labor solutions to American manufacturers. That’s what we do in a nutshell and we take the “solution” part of that equation seriously. As a result, all of us here end up asking a lot of questions to make sure we find the right way to solve the real problem. But, during that process, we end up getting asked a fair amount of questions ourselves. This blog will provide answers to the things PMG employees get asked the most.

How do you advocate for the skilled trades and technical education?

Glad you asked! PMG takes advocating for technical education, the skilled trades, and careers in manufacturing seriously. We believe it’s a responsibility for all of us within these industries to do our best to promote them as well as we can. But why should we? How can you do so as an individual?

An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. The key to advocacy is publicly. You need to make your thoughts, feelings and opinions (your SUPPORT) known generally. This means the real question is how do you do THAT?

Do Your Homework

Make sure you don’t just know the topic, but also go deeper into the details. Make sure you truly understand key issues affecting things as a whole. What are the strengths, challenges, and opportunities for the industry? How can they be influenced? Is the skills gap the problem or just a symptom of the problem? Doing the digging necessary to have real opinions on these questions and others will help you cover a lot of ground in your journey to advocacy.

Think Big

You’re not just representing yourself or your company when you speak or act as an advocate. Therefore, you should consider what influences are affecting every individual and business in your industry. Make sure you understand the challenges and innovations thoroughly and then develop ideas that benefit all those associated. A sincere devotion to improving the situation of someone else will pay dividends to your solution. The more people behind you, the farther and faster you (and your industry) will move.

Build Partnerships

Industries are big entities made up of large numbers of people. Not all of them will be passionate about the same thing. If you can find people in the same industry advocating for different things, then you’ve found potential partners. Take the time to meet with them to discuss ways you can work together to everyone’s benefit. This could help you save time, effort, and resources. Key individuals with solid influence (people who have the power to make changes in their company or sector) are always great finds, but anyone can be a potential partner. As long as an individual is willing to listen to ideas and volunteer suggestions, you know you’ve found a good industry advocate.

Plan for Potholes

The path to progress is long, winding, and sometimes rough. Advocates need to be prepared for a bumpy ride before they ever start the journey. If status quo is causing stagnation, don’t be afraid of being labeled a disruptor. If someone or something is blocking innovation, be brave enough to speak up. It’s the job of an advocate to position growth and success for everyone in an industry. Those who may suppress that positive change for their own benefit should not be allowed to impair improvement for everybody else. What is good for one must be good for all or it’s not truly a solution in the first place.

More Resources For Becoming an Advocate

If you’re looking for more information on advocating for technical education, the skilled trades, or the manufacturing sector, please check out the mikeroweWORKS Foundation or the Titans of CNC Academy.

If you don’t even know whether or not your company is considered part of manufacturing, feel free to view our webinar on how the sector breaks down (it’s free and playable on demand).

Lastly, if you have your own question for PMG, we have an answer and we’d love to share it. Send them to to be answered in future FAQs.

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate