Trick-or-Treat, Smell My Feet…

Turns out, this fun little saying from my childhood doesn’t work anymore since no one should be getting close enough to smell our feet.  In all seriousness, trick-or-treating presents some new challenges this year due to COVID-19. We wanted to share some tips courtesy of the CDC:

  • Trick-or-Treat at home. Hide treats around the house so the little people in your life still get a treat without the potential threat of COVID.
  • If you decide to Trick-or-Treat, incorporate a mask into your costume. Consider going as a doctor or a nurse – they’re the true super heroes this year anyway!
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from anyone not in your direct household.
  • If you’re handing out treats, consider setting up outside or putting out individually bagged treats for kids to grab (no contact required).
  • Wash hands before handling/eating any treats.

No matter how you celebrate this weekend, have fun and be safe. Take the ‘h’ out of the ‘threat’ of COVID and go with a ‘treat’ instead.

… Gimme something good to eat!

PMG Employee Spotlight with Sonya T.

Sonya is in her 6th year with PMG, currently working as the Accounting Manager.

About me

I grew up in South St. Paul. Things changed with my family when I was 17.  While everyone moved out of state, I stayed in Minnesota. I’ve been on my own ever since. I had my daughter when I was still young (19) and I had to grow up really fast. After that I worked a variety of odd jobs for years. I got married, then divorced, and finally decided to go back to school in my late 20s. That’s how I found my way into accounting which eventually led me here.

What are your main responsibilities in your position?

As the Accounting Manager, I directly manage and oversee the payroll and billing for our team. I’m the main point of contact for accounting questions from both internal and external sources. I also directly oversee all payables and receivables. In addition, I do a lot with end of month reporting and general clean up (of the books). I handle a lot of one-off projects that aren’t “regular” day-to-day tasks. I work alongside other departments for improving and refining current processes as well.

How did you learn about the opportunity with PMG?

I started in 2014. It was kind of a department of one at that time. They were ready to grow and couldn’t find the right person to work with our CFO. I came in as a Staff Accountant and I’ve been here ever since. Now we’re a 5-person department and it’s been really exciting and fulfilling to get to grow personally and professionally, from Staff Accountant to Senior Accountant and now Accounting Manager, while PMG and our Accounting department has grown too!

What do you like most about your job?

I’m never bored. While we have the same tasks to do each week (e.g. process payroll, billing, collections), it is never the same every week. There’s always a new twist to keep things interesting. I really like working with numbers, so I’ve never really disliked any of my accounting jobs. I like that my work in this department lets me work with pretty much every PMG department. It gives me the opportunity to learn a lot and it keeps things interesting. My role creates opportunities to accomplish things that allow me to get the kind of satisfaction that lets me really feel proud of myself every day too. I love that, knowing that I’m good at what I do! That helps me to assist other teams and coworkers to assist them with their roles as well.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

The things PMG does for their employees and the way they treat them! They take care of us. Nothing ever goes unrecognized. They give credit where credit is due. They don’t just appreciate employees, they also SHOW it. In the modern working world, that’s important. It’s awesome that PMG does that, whether it’s employee appreciation events, awards or other forms of recognition. The summer and winter company parties are pretty great too. PMG also supports us in pursuing a great work-life balance. Every employee at PMG had the opportunity to work remotely, long before COVID hit. When my personal life changed, and I chose to move to Florida and they fully supported my transition to a fully remote role. That was a great feeling! I also have the utmost respect for our senior leadership team and their support of our team. This is my forever job. I’m not going anywhere!

What advice would you give to a recent new hire at PMG?

Always be open to thinking outside of the box. While we have processes and procedures in place that are proven out, and they work, that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved or that you can’t be the one to improve them. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake either. The best workers are the ones that can make a mistake AND learn from it. I’m proof of that.

What did you do before coming to PMG?

I did a lot of different things before getting into accounting. I jumped from one job to another whenever I had the opportunity to learn more or stretch myself. The most interesting job I ever had was processing film at Qualex. You put a can of film on a machine that stripped it and loaded it on a light proof reel. Then we’d take them over to the developing department. Pretty much any Kodak film dropped off at any store in the area came to us and we made the magic happen. Then it went back to the customers as memories they’d have for life. It wasn’t going to be what I did for the rest of my life but it was really interesting.

What are some hobbies you do in your free time?

I enjoy going on cruises and vacationing. I like bowling and bingo and live music. I love the beach and the water, anything that gets me sunburned really. I also like to do crossword puzzles, read, and have a nice glass of Gray Goose occasionally (laughs). Since I’ve relocated to Florida, I’ve found I really like doing new things to learn the area and meet new people. Another thing I’ve come to love since moving is Sunday Funday during football season. I’m definitely not a Buccaneers fan just because I’m in Florida now. It’s even more fun to put on my Viking gear to go somewhere to watch the game and support my team, when I’m not necessarily the most common fan there, than it was when I was still in Minnesota.

Where is the best place you’ve traveled and why?

My very first cruise in 2018. Three friends and I went on a Caribbean cruise. We hit the Grand Cayman Islands, Mexico, and some other places. It was phenomenal! Also, it was the first time I took a full, week-long vacation since I started at PMG. And, it was the first time I’d been completely disconnected from everything since I first got a smartphone. Great moments, great memories, great fun…I loved that trip.

What celebrity/inspirational person do you admire the most?

Some of the young people in my life talked me into getting a TikTok account recently. I’ve found some people on there that are all about spreading positivity and I LOVE that! It’s something I’ve needed since the pandemic so when I go to their stuff I always smile. Some of my favorites are eddudez, JT_Laybourne, and scottdhenry.

What did you want to be when growing up?

I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’ve always loved animals and I thought that would be great. As I got older, I realized I’d have to go to as much school as doctors do. That seemed like too much work at the time. Then I took an accounting course in high school and fell in love with numbers. Eventually I ended up doing 8 years of night school anyway, while working full time, to get where I am now. Life is funny like that.

You’re happiest when…

I am in the water, or at the beach, with a drink in hand and music in the air. Alone or with friends, that is my happy place.

What’s your favorite restaurant and the must order there?

Since the COVID pandemic hit it’s really any place that supports Door Dash. I’m a wing girl. And spinach artichoke dip! But my go-to place is the local bowling alley. I’m comfortable going there by myself, even as a person new to the area, and I like that. Pretty much anywhere I go here has a table on the beach where I can watch the sun set over the Gulf. That’s what I moved to Florida for so they’re all good really.

What animal best describes you at work?

According to DeAnn (our CFO), I’m a bulldog because of the collections work I have to do for us, but I don’t know about that. I’d say a cougar and not just because of my age! I feel they’re fearless animals and they get what they go after regardless of what it takes.

A reader of my How It’s Made articles (find them here!) recently requested that I write an article about recycling. She, and many others she knows, find themselves wondering, “Can I recycle this? What can I recycle and what can’t I recycle?” With National Recycling Day coming up, (November 15, 2020) I thought the timing was perfect to share what is and isn’t recyclable.

Q: What Can I Recycle? What Can’t I Recycle?

A: In general, plastic, glass, metal, and paper products can be recycled. However, and this is important – there are many sub-categories of plastic, glass, metal and paper products that can’t be recycled. Additionally, what you can recycle depends upon the state you reside in. Click here to find a list of items that are accepted or unaccepted in your state. Read on for general rules of thumb, though!


There are seven different types of plastic and not all of them are recyclable. If you take a look at the bottom of your nearest plastic bottle, you’ll find a triangle of arrows. The number inside the triangle is assigned to the type of plastic (or resin) your bottle is produced from. As an example, Minnesota only accepts items that have a 1, 2, or 5 inside the triangle. With a quick Google search, you can find the resins that your state recycles.

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You can find the commonly questioned items below:

What Isn’t Recyclable
  • Plastic Bags, Bubble Wrap, Plastic Wrap, Plastic Food Wrap
    • Although not recyclable in your general recycling facility, you can bring these items to an approved store drop-off location. Plug your zip code in here to find one near you!
  • Hangers
  • Toys or Beach Balls
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Six-Pack Rings
  • Personal Hygiene Containers (i.e. toothpaste tubes, antiperspirant containers)
  • Ziploc® Bags
  • Plastic Buckets

With glass, there is a general rule of thumb to follow. Only glass that stored food or beverages can be recycled. Windows, vases, light bulbs, and drinking glasses are not recyclable because of the way in which they’re made and their melting points.


You can recycle aluminum cans (soda or beer cans) and soup cans (with labels on). Aluminum foil is not recyclable. Aerosol cans can be recycled in certain communities if they don’t or haven’t contained hazardous materials or chemicals. Check with your city or state to find out if they accept aerosol cans.

Lastly, scrap metal (metal furniture, bikes, car components, metal tubing/pipe, etc.) isn’t recyclable unless you take it to a specific metal recycling facility.


Then there are paper products. It’s everywhere. Newspaper, food containers, paper towels, napkins, mail, cardboard, magazines, and so much more. When it comes to paper, follow these best practices:

What Is Recyclable
  • Soda/beer boxes, butter boxes
  • Clean cardboard
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Printer or office paper, including shredded paper
  • General mail including those with the plastic address windows, staples, or paper clips
What Isn’t Recyclable
  • Anything dirty in nature (i.e. greasy pizza boxes, to go containers, paper plates or paper towels)
    • This is only recyclable if you take it to an organics recycling facility, which is not your typical facility.
  • Egg Cartons, Paper Towel or Toilet Paper Rolls
    • The material for these has already been recycled and the fiber is too short to recycle again.
  • Coated Food Boxes/Tetra Pak Containers
    • Juice cartons, milk cartons, and frozen food cartons are coated to protect food that is raw or unwrapped. In the past, the coating would contaminate the recycling equipment. However, significant advances have been made for these materials. Check with your city or state to determine if they utilize equipment capable of recycling coated food boxes.
  • Padded Envelopes
    • Padded envelopes are are not recyclable unless made from 100% paper. You can’t recycle an envelope padded with what looks like bubble wrap or plastic unless you separate the two materials.

In next month’s article, we will take an in-depth look at what happens in a recycling facility from incoming material to final product and all the processes in between.

Before then, take a look at the links below:

See you next month!

Kim MooneyTechnical Manager & Coach 

We’re on a mission to improve break time for the American workforce one lunchbox at a time. From the shop to the warehouse to the field, production is powered by people who are fueled by food. And we’re sure most of us would appreciate something better in our brown bags. If you missed last month’s lunchbox hack, check it out on our blog page now. But, if you liked what you learned (or you’re just tired of the same old same old), read on to harvest the fruits of our (admittedly delicious) labor.


Good nutrition in your daily caloric intake is key but it won’t go far without proper hydration too! Most of us need to drink more water than we currently do. Some studies suggest that the typical adult male should consume as much as 125 ounces of fluids daily (slightly less for females). However, the old standby of drinking eight cups (8 oz.) of water each still serves most people well. Regardless, many of us still need to increase our daily water intake greatly. If you’re one of those that just can’t keep track, try using a water jug like this one from Igloo. Then you can start the day already knowing you’ll drink enough without needing to refill even once.


Bento boxes are great for separating lunch items to preserve freshness and prevent sogginess. But they can get expensive. Many people in the trades consider them too trendy or fancy for their own lunchbox too. If you’d like to reap the benefits of a bento box, without making it obvious, consider trying this life hack. All you need is a large ice cube tray, a sealed container and, voila, instant bento box!


Is your midday menu getting stale? To mix it up, try this Homemade Hot Pocket recipe for something fun that is still easy to cook and reheat. They’re simple to pre-make in bulk and, if you make them flat rather than rounded, you’ll even be able to use a toaster to reheat them instead of a microwave. That way you get a crispy crunch to go with your healthy (guilt-free) lunch!

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

Navigating politics at work can be hard. I’m admittedly someone who keeps their political views to themselves. I don’t research enough to support my political views with facts. I simply believe what I believe. Then, I try really hard not to judge others for believing what they believe (easier said than done sometimes).

This year, with social media at my fingertips, it’s become harder and harder to bite my tongue. Again, without the facts, I stay away from political debates because I know I’m not educated enough to be a fighter.

Not everyone has the same control though. So, when it comes to talking politics around the watercooler in the office or around the timeclock on the shop floor, what should you consider?  Let me help you decide:

Consider your employer brand and culture!

When you make a political stance on social media and have coworkers, customers, or clients that follow your platforms, their opinion of your employer may change based on your singular view point. Think twice before you make your political stance public. Consider not only your own reputation, but your employers’ reputation as well.

Remember that work should is an environment of mutual respect, not politics!

While you and your cube-mate may not agree on who should win the political election, your respect for each other as coworkers and supporting members of the team should not be forgotten. You will have to work together on November 4th after the election has concluded.

Walk away, if needed.

If politics do come up, know that it’s unlikely you’ll be changing anyone’s mind or anyone will be changing your mind, so consider cutting the conversation short. Don’t engage in something you know could get heated. Walking away doesn’t make you a chicken, it makes you smart.

The elections are just weeks away but until then, focus on what should be keeping you busy at work and remember to be kind. If you need more information on those in the running for office, On The Issues provides detail for candidates at all levels of government.

Red or Blue. Conservative or Liberal. Donkey or Elephant.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

I’m sure you’re well aware of the tiny but iconic lollipops called Dum Dums. You might even have a favorite flavor, including the curious  “Mystery Flavor”. What exactly is a mystery flavor, though? I’ll answer that question in this edition of “How It’s Made”.

How is Candy Made?

First and foremost, let’s talk about the general process for making candy. The base of candy is sugar and water. The type of candy determines other required ingredients such as brown sugar, corn syrup, fats, or acids, and a variety of flavorings.

After mixing comes heating at temperatures as high as 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, hard candies are heated at higher temperatures and soft candies are heated at lower temperatures. The heated mixture then moves through molding, cooling, wrapping, and packaging machinery. This process and the equipment used to perform these tasks is similar to the process and equipment used in the production of hygiene products. Check out PMG’s How It’s Made post on hand sanitizers to learn more about the equipment.

It’s simple, right? Mix, heat, form, cool, and package a combination of sugar, water, ingredients and flavorings. But there isn’t a flavoring called ‘Mystery’. So, what is the mysterious process behind mystery-flavored candies?

Where does the “Mystery Flavor” come from?

The mystery flavor in candy is the combination of two separate flavors. To create efficiencies in production and limit downtime, candy makers made the decision to combine flavors. When a batch of a specific flavor (let’s say strawberry) is complete, rather than shutting down the equipment for a thorough cleaning and losing valuable production time, candy manufacturers simply start the next flavor batch (let’s say vanilla). What we get in the end is a small number of candies that contain the flavor of the first batch (strawberry) and the flavor of the second batch (vanilla), producing a strawberry vanilla candy.

This process produces so few strawberry vanilla candies (and the company cannot guarantee the combination of the two flavors again), that creating specific packaging for the combined flavor increases costs and decreases benefits. These mixed batch flavors become the new “Mystery Flavor” to keep costs low and production high.

This process creates endless possibilities for flavor combinations. Well, maybe not endless. Let’s use Dum Dum Suckers as an example. There are 16 standard flavors of these suckers. This makes 256 different combinations possible to form one ‘Mystery Flavor’. With that number of combinations, the next time I try the Mystery Flavor Dum Dum, I’m not sure I’ll be able to determine what two flavors came together but it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept!

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

FAQs for PMG

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. During that process, we end up getting asked a fair amount of questions ourselves. This blog is our effort to provide answers to the questions PMG employees get asked the most.

What is MFG Day?

This is a question we’re very happy to answer! National Manufacturing Day is observed on the first Friday of October and is intended to celebrate those who proudly stand behind our goods and services in America. It was first recognized as an official day in New Jersey by Governor Chris Christie in 2012. President Barack Obama gave it national recognition with a Presidential Proclamation in 2014.

Later, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute launched MFG Day to further those intentions. MFG Day is a national initiative to encourage thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders to help show the reality of modern manufacturing careers.

MFG Day 2020 is on October 2 this year and you can learn more about it in this video from NAM.

What does it benefit?

Manufacturing Day is a direct result of the Skills Gap and about promoting trades and services to the next generation. The idea is to show people how exciting the innovation and opportunity is in the industry. Ideally, this will allow manufacturers to encourage more young people to pursue STEM education, lead them to employment in the trades, and close the Skills Gap forever.

How can I participate in MFG Day?

In one word, support. If you’re a parent, talk to your child about manufacturing and encourage them to explore a MFG Day event. There are thousands occurring throughout the month of October and more will be virtual this year than ever before. It can be as simple as watching one of the videos that we created for MFG Day last year on our YouTube page.

If you’re an educator, encourage your students to attend career fairs or reach out to local employers for tours and presentations.

Lastly, if you’re a manufacturer, open up your doors. If you have a good thing going, share it with the community and let them see it!

Additional Resources

Learn more about MFG Day and the movement to close the Skills Gap at Also, check out our webinar about myths and misperceptions of manufacturing for additional related information.

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Coordinator