Q&A with Arethea G., PMG Machinist

How long have you been working in manufacturing?

I’ve been in manufacturing since 2006.

What drew you to the trade?

I was working in warehousing when my employer went out of business and then I was looking for a new job. I found an ad for a CNC operator position and I’ve been doing that kind of work ever since.

Have you had any formal training?

Nothing formal, just on-the-job training with lots of work shadowing. The hardest thing to learn on my own was how to make fine adjustments to my machine, but I learned. If you pay close attention and ask good questions, you can learn anything.

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

I had a part-time job in a small machine shop running a Hurco and it didn’t have a set fixture. I’d have to set up every part before I ran it again. That might not be that interesting, but it was unusual.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

Being able to travel is my favorite part. You get to go to different places, see different companies and how they work, and meet lots of different people.

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

Mostly, I just miss time with friends and family. When I was in Texas, on an assignment, I lost my mom and that was hard.

How do you balance your career at PMG and family?

I try to stay in contact as much as possible. I use a lot of phone time and FaceTime.

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

It’s a good experience to work in the trades and learn different things. You’re always learning as a machinist and when you do project work and travel, you learn even more, even faster.

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

I like to sight-see when I’m off-shift, but COVID restrictions have really reduced that in the last year. I like to ask the locals what’s worth seeing and then I go see it. When I was on my way back to Iowa, for a project, I stopped in St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch and that was cool.

What is something fun you’re looking forward to in 2021?

Not much really. It’s kind of hard to plan things when you don’t know how COVID is going to change them. I guess I’m looking forward to COVID not being such a concern.

How did you first learn about PMG?

I wasn’t happy at the job where I was at and I saw a job posting on Indeed. I didn’t know anything about PMG, but I applied and found out how good of a deal it was. Ten projects later, I’m still here and very happy about that!

What would you say to a young woman that might be considering a career in the trades today?

You can do it and you’ll like it too! Learn as much as you can, go to a trade school, and you’ll find a lot that is more interesting about the trades than you think. And then you’ll have a good career AND an interesting one!

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, people outside of PMG ask a fair amount of questions too. This blog provides answers to the questions people ask PMG employees the most.

What is the difference between a 1099 and a W4 employee?

That’s a fantastic question! We often emphasize that our technicians are W4 employees and not 1099 contractors, but what does that actually mean?

The two terms refer to different IRS tax forms that are required to be completed for different “types” of workers that a company might pay over the course of a year. Essentially, 1099 forms are completed for independent contractors and W4 forms are completed for direct-hire, “full-time” employees. You can learn more about which type of employee is better for your company, from a tax standpoint, in this Fundera article. But why would someone pursue one form of employment over the other as a technician?

The Pros of W4 Employment

  • Consistency – You only need to show up for your assigned shift and perform the duties of your task. You don’t have to prospect new clients, sign new contracts, or source more materials to make sure you have a full work shift available to you the next day.
  • Taxes – Employers pay half of Medicare and Social Security costs for an employee as well as covering liability for workers’ comp. This means direct-hire employees save substantially on out-of-pocket tax expenditures when compared to contractors.
  • Benefits – Employer sponsored (and often funded) benefits such as insurance and retirement can also represent substantial savings, or increased overall compensation, for full-time employees when compared to freelancers.

The Pros of 1099 Employment

  • Flexibility – 1099 contractors get to work for themselves and thus determine when, where, and how much they work each day. They also get to determine the focus and growth of their business.
  • Balance – That increased flexibility of work and schedule allows contractors to have more control over their work/life balance. Contractors don’t have to worry about getting time off or late arrival requests approved when they’re the ones who approve them.
  • Independence – Contractors have no career limits. They don’t have to wait for their manager to approve new training or their supervisor to promote them into a position with more responsibility. The 1099 contractor is completely in control of how far, and how fast, their career/business grows.

Additional Resources

If you’d like to learn more about the W-4 form, check out this post on the Who, What, Why Where, and How of the New W-4. If this answered your questions, you can always get other answers from us too. Just send your questions to our Writing Team and keep an eye out for future FAQ’s!


Josh Erickson, ReTool Public Relations & Engagement Specialist

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, aimed at teenagers, started March 22. The goal of this week was to debunk the myths we hear so often about drug and alcohol use.

According to research from the Centers for Disease Control, two-thirds of U.S. students have tried alcohol by 12th grade. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week attempts to inform teens about the impact and risk of substance abuse.


Test your knowledge about drugs and drug use by taking the interactive  2021 National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge quiz!

Quiz | NIDA for Teens (drugabuse.gov)

5 Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

Changes in Behavior

This can include anything from bad grades to lack of respect to poor eye contact. Take note of what is different in your teen and ask yourself if their behavior is unusual.

Psychological Changes

Drugs can have a heavy impact on your teen — from trouble concentrating to memory issues to seemingly random laughter.

Health Issues

Drug use often coincides with health issues. If your teen is experiencing appetite changes, shakiness, excessive headaches, or frequent illness — take note.

Personal Appearance

Look for changes in personal appearance (from bad hygiene to bloodshot eyes).  Another sign could be burn marks on fingers or lips.

Suspicious Behavior

You may notice drug paraphernalia, missing cash, or valuables. This could be a clear indication of drug use.

Want more safety-related topics? Check out our recent post on Poison Prevention!

Brenda Lovitz, Risk & Safety Manager

The first day of spring was Sunday March 20th this year and with spring comes many things – birds chirping, snow melting, and spring break! As you likely know, spring break is the time when many individuals travel.

To help you out with your travels this year (and give you an opportunity to think and travel outside the box), we’ve created lists of places you should check out that are based on American manufacturing and industry. If you think the idea of traveling based on American revolution seems odd, think again. In this article about Industrial Tourism, you’ll find it’s not as uncommon as you may think!

As for our list, it includes places that are currently open during the pandemic and places that provide online options for anyone staying in.

General US Regions

The Rust Belt

This area is generally known as the area surrounding the great lakes like PA, MI, IN, WV, and OH. Natural resources in these areas such as coal and iron as well as rivers and trains for transportation greatly changed manufacturing in the early years. It’s a popular area for the production of automotive vehicles and parts, primary metal manufacturing, fabricated metals, food, chemical and paper.


This state is well known for its engineering and manufacturing of electronics and computers as well as production of chemical and petroleum products.


Texas is similar to California in that it’s a major supplier of chemicals, petroleum products, and computers. It’s also a major supplier of food and building supplies (brick & cement).

New England

This region led the way in the earlier industrial revolutions as immigrants traveled to America. These states (including MA, CT, and NH) are now powerhouses in electronic, appliance, and aerospace manufacturing.

Museums and Exhibits

American Precision Museum – Windsor, VT

This is “the dynamic store of machines and people which form the foundation and future of the manufacturing industry in America.”

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation – Dearborn, MI

This museum is just one of many experiences on a 250-acre campus. You can also step into Greenfield Village to experience things like riding in a Model T, take a tour at the Ford Rouge Factory, and watch educational movies on a state-of-the-art (and very large) 4K digital projection screen.

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory – Louisville, KY

Here you can learn about the makings of Louisville Slugger bats “from the forest to the field”.

Kregel Windmill Factory Museum – Nebraska City, NE

This is the original Kregel factory which produced windmills for 112 years straight and now houses all the artifacts and historical information for a critical technology long ago.

Baltimore Museum of Industry – Baltimore, MD

This museum spans across five acres of land to give you experiences and knowledge about Maryland’s industrial past and the ways it shaped their state and region.

Museum of History & Industry – Seattle, WA

This museum focuses on the ways in which the Puget Sound area has shaped inventive or industrial processes worldwide.

The Kazoo Factory – Beaufort, SC

After taking the fully-guided tour here, you’ll also have the opportunity to make your own Kazoo!

Minnesota Transportation Museum – St. Paul, MN

Don’t spend all of your time learning on vacation. At this museum, not only will you learn the ways trains changed American industry, but you can also ride in a historical train!

Heritage Center of Dayton Manufacturing & Entrepreneurship – Dayton, OH

On this 65 acre campus, you can learn all about Dayton’s mark on innovation and industrialization from 1840 to current day.

Lowell National Historical Park – Lowell, MA

Water-powered textile mills transformed America’s early industrial revolutions. At this national park, you will learn the stories of the people (many immigrant and many female) who worked in the mills.

Goodenough Silver Mine Underground Tour – Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone, Arizona had an incredibly large mining industry and this mine was the largest producer of silver.

Statues and Commemorative Memorials

The Hat Maker Statue – Danbury, CT

Located in the Hat City of the World!

Mechanics Monument – San Francisco, CA

This statue was erected for the workers at Union Iron Works, the first foundry built in California.

Rosie the Riveter Memorial – Richmond, CA

During World War II, Richmond, California shipyards produced more ships than any other shipyard. This park tells the story of WWII from the home front perspective.

Thomas Talbot Statue – Atlanta, GA

The founder and first president of the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

Brown Building – Manhattan, NY

This building is considered a National Historic Landmark and showcases a plaque to memorialize those lost in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. This fire changed the lives of many textile workers (and others) in the US.

Online Exhibitions, Videos, and Virtual Tours

National Museum of American History

This Smithsonian museum is currently closed but offers many online and virtual opportunities to learn about America’s industrial past including this one about Industrial Drawings and this one on Solar Power.

Tuesday Tech Talks

These are interesting (and short enough) YouTube videos from the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Amazon Fulfillment Center Tour

In this virtual tour, you’ll get to see an Amazon fulfillment center with your own eyes.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

In this virtual tour, you’ll get 3D access to Mission Control, Visitor Lobby Center and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

Kregel Windmill Factory Museum

This is the original Kregel factory which produced windmills for 112 years straight, now housing all the artifacts and historical information for a critical technology long ago.

Want more manufacturing history? Check out our post on Inventors & Leaders – Black History Month.

Happy Travels!

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Teach don’t touch for poison prevention!


As founder of the Pittsburgh Poison Center and the National Poison Center Network, Dr. Moriarty created Mr. Yuk stickers for parents in the 70’s and 80’s to protect kids from poisons in the home.

Dr. Moriarty felt that the traditional skull and crossbones representing poison were no longer appropriate for children.  The stickers were meant for people to slap on dangerous household products and if it scared you off as kid, that sticker did what it was meant to do.

Child Poisoning Facts

  1. Across the United States, around 800,000 kids are rushed to the emergency room each year because of accidental poisoning. Of these, around 30 children will die, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  2. Around 70% of non-fatal poisonings involve children ages 1 to 2.
  3. Overall, around 24 million people call poison control centers every year. Although most of these accidental poisonings do not turn out to be serious, it illustrates just how common accidental poisonings involving kids actually are.

Even if we don’t see his green face, we need to be sure to teach kids to stay away from chemicals and take time this week to talk about the Poison Help Hotline.

Tips to Prevent Poisonings

Buy products that children can’t open easily. Be aware that child-resistant caps are not risk free. Once a child learns how to open containers with these caps, they will not keep a child safe. A child will only take longer to open them.

Keep medicines, cleaners, and other poisons out of sight. Keep them in cabinets that are locked or in cabinets that children can’t open.

Be careful when using medicines, cleaners, and other poisons. Don’t leave them open when you answer the phone or doorbell. Replace the cap. Take the product with you. Poisonings can happen in just a few seconds.

Always keep products in the containers they came in.

Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home.

Never take medicine in the dark.

Be careful when taking more than one medicine. Read the labels to avoid an overdose. When taking more than one medicine at a time, make sure it’s safe to take them together.

Brenda Lovitz, Risk & Safety Manager

PMG believes that those who eat better work better. This blog is our effort to improve the American workforce one lunchbox at a time. We want you to feed yourself with something that fuels you better and we have tips, tricks, and recipes to make that possible! If you missed our last lunchbox hack, check it out on our blog page now.


March is the month of many things, but among those things are Read Across America Day and St. Patrick’s Day. We think you should celebrate both together by preparing this easy Green Eggs & Spam recipe for lunch on March 17. We know you’ll be surprised at ‘all the places you will go’ after break time when you’re so well fueled!


If you’re not familiar with Minnesota’s very own canned pork product, SPAM®, learn more by reading our latest How It’s Made blog now. Then, check out these tips for cooking with SPAM® before you ever open a can. Even if you are experienced with the tasty subtleties of SPAM®, take a pro-tip from a lifelong Minnesotan (me) and always remember that the fryer is your (and your taste-buds’) friend!


For the campfire cooks among us, you will be thrilled to learn that SPAM® isn’t just easy to pack for the backcountry. It can actually be cooked in the can to save on cleanup too! Warning: If you’re not familiar with the properties of pressure cooking, read this article on how NOT to cook SPAM® in the can BEFORE attempting. Then, properly vent your can and enjoy a tasty, effortless meal for your next camping trip!

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate


March is the month in which the UK celebrates SPAM Appreciation Week. Although the U.S. doesn’t hold a SPAM appreciation week in March, it is our National Deli Meat Month. Before reading this monthly How It’s Made article on SPAM, check out this link to learn more about National Deli Meat Month.

Let’s start with some interesting facts about SPAM.

  • SPAM is brought to you by the Hormel Foods company which has sold more than 8 BILLION cans since it’s introduction in 1937 (in 44 countries).

Note: Hormel Foods Company was founded in 1891 right here in my home state of Minnesota!

  • Upon creation, SPAM had an easy lead on their competition. Unlike other canned meat products, it did not require refrigeration.
  • The name “SPAM” came from a contest in which the winner received $100.00 for coming up with the name.
  • No one really knows what (or if) SPAM stands for (something) specific.

Is it short for “shoulder of pork and ham”?

Does it stand for “spiced ham”?

  • It was widely used by U.S. troops during World War II. In fact, troops even used it to lubricate their guns and grease their boots.
  • Hormel estimates they sell three cans of it every second!
  • SPAM shows up in 1 of 3 American households.
  • Hawaii and Guam are two of the biggest SPAM consumers in the world, due to the introduction of it during World War II.

The average citizen in Guam consumes 16 cans of it per year.

SPAM is sold at McDonalds in Guam.

  • SPAM is considered a delicacy in South Korea and is often given as a sign of respect during the holidays.

How It’s Made

The creator of SPAM, Jay Hormel, was inspired by a trip to the deli where he saw canned meat being sliced by the butcher. Jay decided Hormel’s next product would be a canned meat. After some trial and error, Jay also determined he could cut out the middle man (a butcher) by selling smaller cans of the meat directly to the consumer, allowing consumers to cut it themselves. This, and the fact that SPAM did not need to be refrigerated unlike other canned meats, was a real game changer for American households!

As a result of its hero status, Minnesotans are proud to call Spam ours, even if others label it a “Mystery Meat”, and we are here today to demystify it.

SPAM Ingredients

  • Ground Pork mixed with Ground Ham
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Sodium Nitrite
  • Potato Starch (an ingredient not used until 2009)

The primary cut of pork used in SPAM is pork shoulder because at the time of creation, it was the most difficult meat to process for other purposes. Sodium Nitrite stops the growth of bacteria which can cause food poisoning and it also creates the pink appearance due a chemical reaction occurring between it and the meat’s protein. In 2009, 72 years after creation, the recipe started including potato starch. This starch acts as a binder and prevents the meat from drying out in a pan.

Manufacturing Process

Now, to take these six simple ingredients and create something as ground breaking as SPAM, we need to do the following:

  1. Hand carve the meat from the bone and grind it up in 8,000-pound batches at very specific temperatures for specific times (about 20 minutes).
  2. Utilize a vacuum mixing machine to super cool the meat to a freezing temperature.
  3. Mix in all other ingredients.
  4. Funnel the mixture into cans then vacuum seal and label the cans.
  5. Cook the cans in hydrostatic cookers (which utilize steam and pressure to heat and cool the meat one last time). These machines can process 33,000 cans every hour!
  6. Package and palletize cans for shipment.

Yes, that’s it. Six ingredients, six steps. It’s all really simple, isn’t it? And really, there’s nothing mysterious about it!

With all that said, if you haven’t tried SPAM, as a proud Minnesotan, I think you should! Grab a can from your grocery or convenience store and give it a go. If you need something to go with it, try some cheese (check out my article on how cheese is made) or simply fry it up in a pan. A quick Google search will give you so many recipes, including SPAM Sushi.

Happy Eating!

Ladders are the tools that take us to new heights and help us reach our highest potential!  We use extension ladders in the garage, step stools in the kitchen and every step up we take, matters for safety.

At construction sites and manufacturing facilities all over the country, ladder safety is paramount!  Falls continue to be a persistent problem and every year over 100 people die in ladder-related accidents while thousands more suffer disabling injuries.

OSHA recommends training employees on how to properly use ladders

  • Choose the right ladder for the job
  • Inspect ladders regularly to ensure they are in good working order
  • Make sure to use a ladder on flat and level ground
  • Secure and position the ladder in the safest location possible
  • Face the ladder at all times when climbing
  • Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times and don’t overload it

Don’t risk your safety using rickety ladders!  If you notice any of the following, leave that ladder for the junk pile.

  • Missing or loose rungs or cleats
  • Loose nails, bolts, or screws
  • Wood splinters or damaged ladder edges
  • Cracks, breaks, splits, dents, or wearing
  • Damaged rungs, cleats, or side rails
  • Visible corrosion

Make sure every step you take is a safe one!

Want more safety tips? Check out our post, Beat the Heat.

We Appreciate YOU!

For the past 25 years, YOU have been celebrated on the first Friday in March, each year, but did you even realize this?

Employee Appreciation Day is Friday, March 5th this year and after the year we’ve all had, we wanted to make sure you were aware how much we appreciate you!

As leaders at PMG, we know how hard it is to find really great, high caliber employees who have the KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities) our clients need for us to help them get their incredibly important work done.

We hope you hear it often enough, but in case you don’t, please know that each and every day of the year, we are SO THANKFUL FOR WHO YOU ARE and what you bring to the work site every single day. We are thankful for the little glimpses you share with us of who you are and what you get out of being a PMG employee. YOU ARE PMG!