PMG works with manufacturers of all types in a wide variety of industries, including food manufacturers. Our clients make anything from breakfast foods to dessert, dry, refrigerated, or frozen. Today, we can walk into a grocery store (or if you prefer, order grocery pick up or grocery delivery) for virtually anything we want. Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Those refrigerated goods and frozen items you see used to be kept cold by being stored in holes in the ground, in ice houses stocked with ice collected from frozen lakes or stored in underground cellars. However, foods froze slowly in these contraptions causing ice crystals to form which melted when food defrosted, causing watery foods, and negatively affecting texture and flavor. Today, we have the convenience of the refrigerator and freezer to keep our food cold. The question remains, how did we overcome the watery, poor texture, low flavor frozen foods? That’s all thanks to Clarence Birdseye.Clarence Birdseye the father of Frozen Foods

The Father of Frozen Foods

Clarence Birdseye worked as a fur trader in Canada. During his time in Canada, he realized that the fish he caught (and those were caught by local Inuit as well), froze almost immediately once they were pulled out of the water. And, after storing the fish in its frozen state for months then thawing the fish to eat, Clarence discovered the fish were just as delicious as they would have been fresh. As a result, Clarence theorized that freezing food quickly (or flash freezing), rather than slow freezing, was the trick to retaining food taste and texture in the freezing technique. Here began Clarence’s mission to test his theory, which he was able to prove true in two ways.  

The first method Clarence developed for quick freezing food used a calcium chloride solution. In this method, food was first packaged and then held between two metal belts that were cooled by the calcium chloride solution to a temperature between -40°F and -45°F.  

With this discovery, Clarence took it a step further. He invented an entire system to package vegetables, fish, and meat into waxed-cardboard cartons which were then flash frozen. He even started his own frozen-fish company in New York City, called Birdseye Seafood. Clarence used his first method to freeze and package fish and obtained a patent for the method. To freeze his fish, Clarence placed fish filets into containers which were then submerged into a refrigerating tank containing the calcium chloride brine. This created a block of ice containing frozen filets. Once removed from the tank and the container, the fish was then wrapped in wax paper and stored in an insulated shipping container. Fun fact: Clarence also patented his insulated shipping container (a refrigerated boxcar) and used that technology to develop display cases for frozen goods (like those you see in the grocery store). Clarency declaring bankruptcy

Unfortunately, Birdseye Seafood went bankrupt. Fortunately, Clarence was undaunted. With capital brought in from Wall Street investors as well as the sale of his (and his wife’s) life insurance policies, Clarence started over, with a new company in Gloucester, Massachusetts, this time with the name General Seafood Corporation. It’s here that Clarence flash froze fish filets with a new method. This second method became a commercially viable option for not only General Seafood Corporation but also other food manufacturing companies worldwide. 

The Comeback

The second method Clarence developed used ammonia instead of the calcium chloride solution. In this method, Clarence placed the packaged food between two metal (and hollow) plates that were chilled to temperatures between -25°F – 40°F through ammonia evaporation. In this method, fruits and vegetables froze to 0°F in about 30 minutes while a package of meat froze to the same temperature in 75-90 minutes.  

In 1929, Clarence sold this business (General Seafood Company) as well as his fast-freezing method to Postum Co. What was the total sale amount? $22 million, with $20 million of it going toward the patents alone. Today, that sale would be worth over $358 million. As a result of the purchase, Postum Cereal Company changed its name to General Foods Corporation and appointed Clarence the president of their new division, the Birds Eye Frosted Foods division. With this new role, Clarence and General Foods Corp. started new lines of “frosted foods” to include spinach, cherries, meat, and frozen peas. Today, Birds Eye foods has a wide range of products including plain frozen vegetables, vegetables that are seasoned and sauced, vegetable-based foods (like cauliflower wings) as well as full skillet meals.  Frozen vegetables on a colored background top view

And to think, this all started by one man, born in Brooklyn, NY in 1886 who started his first business at just 10 years’ old by shipping 12 muskrats that he had trapped on Long Island to an English lord seeking wild game for his estate., making $9 dollars. Over the years, Clarence would use his entrepreneurial spirit in a variety of ways, including paying tuition at Amherst College (as a biology major) by selling collected frogs to the Bronx Zoo for snake food or trapping and providing rats to a genetics professor for studying. When this didn’t work out, Clarence decided he would try the fur trading business. It seemed like a good venture considering his deep interest in plants and animals. So, off he went to Labrador, Newfoundland to trap, buy, and sell fur pelt. Later, he would find himself working as a naturalist for the US government, with a post in the Arctic. It’s here, where Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) developed his theory for fast freezing fish, which took him to places he’d never imagined and doing some pretty remarkable things. With all these accomplishments still, Clarence didn’t boast or brag. He’s quoted to say: “I do not consider myself a remarkable person. I am just a guy with a very large bump of curiosity and a gambling instinct.” 

Looking for more information about food manufacturing and processing? Check out PMG’s blog for my How It’s Made articles about mystery flavored suckers, cheese, plant-based burgers, and even Spam. 

As you know, every technician has a toolbox. Many of the tools are mechanical in nature to include wrenches, pliers, drivers, etc., but also critical to the toolbox are inspection or precision measurement tools ensuring the quality of work performed. Here’s our version of every technician’s toolbox as it relates to quality operations. It is important to note that some of these items are provided by employers due to the nature of the equipment or calibrations required so when it’s time to build your toolbox, consider those most critical to your role.  

Inspection Tools 

  1. Calipers: These tools measure the ID and OD of an object. Types of calipers include Dial Calipers, Vernier Calipers, and Digital Calipers. You can find the differences here. Quality Inspection of Sheet Metal using Caliper
  2. Gauges 
    1. Thread Gauges (also known as screw gauges or pitch gauges). These measure the pitch of a screw thread.  
    2. Go/No Go Gauges (including plug gauges, snap gauges, ring gauges). These perform very simple inspections by checking the dimensional limits of parts. You can find the differences here.  
    3. Chamfer Gauges determine the top diameter of tapered or chamfered holes and countersinks.  
    4. Depth Gauges/Depth Micrometers used to measure depth, holes, slots, etc.  
    5. Height Gauges measure (and set) heights of objects/vertical distances of an object.  
  3. Hardness Tester measures the hardness of material (or Rockwell Hardness). The method for using these is determined by the type of material.  Hardness Tester used for Quality Control
  4. Indicators: used to align workpieces in machines or fixtures, inspect circular pieces after grind operations, analyze surface roughness, among other items.  
    1. Dial Test Indicators. 
    2. Plunge Indicators. 
    3. Travel Indicators. 
  5. Micrometers: measure depth, length, and thickness of components.  
  6. Surface Comparators: measure surface roughness and/or finish.  
  7. Surface Plates: solid, flat, granite/cast iron plates used as reference points horizontally to gauge whether a surface is flat, concave, or convex.  

Tool Tidbits 

Many of these tools are either analog or digital in nature. What does that mean? Think of an analog clock where the time is read in the form of hands positioned at specific numbers while a digital clock reads out just the numbers. These tools have the capability to operate in one or the other, as well.  

Some of these tools use the Metric measurement system to read out measurements while others use the Imperial measurement system. If you’re not sure what those are, check this out. 

It’s critical that these tools be calibrated. The process to calibrate tools ensure that all tools are measuring accurately and consistently, providing reliability of the instrument and trust in the measurements determined.  

Technicians and Their Tools 

Most technicians who use these tools are CNC Operators, CNC Machinists, Quality Inspectors, and CMM Programmers as well as some general Machine Operators. In these roles, it is important to perform pre-inspection, in-process inspection, and post- (or final) inspection to ensure all operations performed were done to specification and quality standards. Remember, safety first, quality second.  

What makes you happy? For me, it’s such a simple question to answer. It’s the funny faces my children make. My nightly snuggles with our dog. A shared meal with my husband (preferably one I didn’t have to cook). Knowing that I’m raising my children with the very best intent. Ice cream. Cheese. And more ice cream. 

When I asked my children the same question, it was clear it was an easy question for them too: friends, rollerblading, volleyball, getting good grades (so mom & dad don’t get mad), and fettucine alfredo.A plate of Fettucine all'Alfredo pasta in a butter cream and parmesan sauce garnished with a sprig of basil and sprinkled with grated cheese Day of Happiness  

When I stop and think about this crazy world we live in and what might make someone happy across the globe, I’m quickly humbled knowing my privilege affords me happiness that so many others struggle to find, especially with the challenges people are facing today, far beyond their own control. say: “When we choose to take action to help others, they benefit, we benefit, and we set an example of kindness that can ripple out into the world too.” So what kind of actions can you take in honor of the International Day of Happiness:  

  • Surround yourself with positive thinkers, positive news, and people and/or things that lift you up. Be that positive thinker for someone else too. 
  • Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. While you’re there, smile when someone walks by you, even if their headphones are in and your dog is going crazy. The introvert in me cringes at this idea, but it’s okay to step out of your comfort zone for a quick smile. 
  • Intentionally do something nice for someone. Buy a stranger their coffee while you wait in line at the coffee shop, throw a love note into your child’s lunch box, tip your pizza delivery person a little extra, take your gloves and give them to the homeless person on the street just waiting for the sun to shine.  

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, who proclaimed March 20th as the International Day of Happiness almost ten years ago, says “the pursuit of happiness is a fundament human goal.” So let’s start working to achieve that goal. Success may not happen overnight, but every little step we take makes a difference. Going out of your way to make someone happy has the potential to trigger them to go out of their way to make someone happy, thus creating that ripple effect that keeps on going and going and going… 

It’s a common misconception in manufacturing that production numbers and output are of the utmost importance. However, that’s all wrong. First and foremost, safety is the number one factor in manufacturing. Right behind safety comes quality (PMG’s Project Manager Stephen D. talks about these priorities) and critical to quality are CMMs.   

What are CMMs 

CMM stands for Coordinate Measuring Machine. In short, CMMs are machines that measure physical dimensions and geometric characteristics of manufactured components. These same dimensions, features, and characteristics can be measured manually with precision hand tools and instruments. Unfortunately, manual inspections leave room for error (human error), so CMMs were created. CMM Machine Wensel LH87

At the most basic level, a CMM consists of a table on which the part is set for inspection processes and a probe that performs the inspection with a computer program that guides and controls the inspection probes.  

CMM Programming 

When explained, CMMs seem very simple. However, there is much more to it including the way in which the CMM is programmed. Some parts have very few characteristics needing inspection while others have hundreds. Regardless of the number of characteristics to be inspected, a CMM cannot perform the inspection tasks unless it’s been programmed to do so. Similar to PLC programming or CNC programming, CMM programming is a sequential set of instructions directing the machine in all of its operations. A CMM program is written through software designed specific for CMMs and will seem like a foreign language unless you are a CMM Programmer.  

CMM Programmers 

CMM Programmers write the long list of code and sequential instruction needed for a CMM machine to operate. CMM Programmers ensure that each and every feature, characteristic, and dimension of the part is measured by the probe on the CMM and in the way that keeps the inspection process as efficient as possible. Not only does a CMM programmer determine the path of instruction, but a CMM programmer will also ensure that the program clearly outlines the dimensions and tolerances required of the part. These two details (dimensions/tolerances and inspection path) must align once the machine is running. If these two factors are not aligned, the part does not pass inspection. Does this still sound easy? It’s not. This process has gotten increasingly more difficult over the years, due to the much more complex and geometric forms of machined components. CMM Programmer in background automatic coordinate measurement machine (CMM) during inspection automotive or motorcycle industrial part in quality control manufacturing process

Interested in Being a CMM Programmer?

A great place to start is school where you can earn degrees or certificates in Quality and Manufacturing Technologies. You will need to gain work experience (as a Quality Inspector or CMM Operator) once you receive the degree or certificate of course but it’s still a great place to start. If you’ve already got work experience in manufacturing (in the field of quality or elsewhere), make it clear that you’re interested in operating CMMs and/or programming CMMs. Often times, CMM Programmers become CMM Programmers through on-the-job training.  

Are You a CMM Programmer or CMM Operator?  

Join the PMG team for the opportunity to travel and explore new places, learn new techniques, create flexibility in your schedule, and work with some of the greatest manufacturers in the US. Apply Here! 

We are focusing on movement in March! Too many of us do not get enough physical activity in our day-to-day endeavors, so we came up with a list of 10 tips to help you stay moving. Remind yourself that the little actions you take add up to big results. Sport Activity Icons

  1. Plan a mid-day movement break. 10-30 minutes of time scheduled into your day to go for a walk, do a few chores, or actively stretch. Click for Guided Stretch Video 
  2. Skip the drive through. When you are picking up your morning coffee or lunch, choose to walk into the establishment to purchase your order!  Walking into Coffee Shop to Stay Moving at the register
  3. Set a timer! Work for 30 minutes and then take a 5-minute break to walk around and stand up. Repeat this pattern throughout the day! This will also help increase your productivity.  
  4. Stand during meetings. This is simple yet effective!  
  5. Find the staircase instead of the elevator. Choose to take the stairs or park a bit farther away when you go to the store. 
  6. Set goals. Use your fit bit, apple watch, or phone to keep track of your steps. Have a minimum step count for each day.   
  7. Plan out time for exercise. Actively write down in your calendar when you are going to exercise at the beginning of each week! Signing up for a scheduled class is a great option.  
  8. Walk while you watch or talk. Go for a walk outside or on the treadmill while you watch a show, answer emails, or call a friend/family member!  
  9. Get an accountability partner (Often referred to as an “Accountabilibuddy”)! Find someone to keep you moving, go for walks together or send messages reminding each other to prioritize your movement.  
  10. Move right when you wake up! Hop out of bed and do 5-10 minutes of yoga or stretching. Implement a “do 20 squats” rule when you walk to the fridge for your first glass of water!  

Movement is Medicine banner with black outline

Reminder: Every small habit adds up! Movement is medicine. Push yourself to implement at least 2 of these tips!  

PMG Values Being a Diverse Company that is Inclusive and Fair 

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Time to Break the Bias”. This day is a great way for us to reflect and celebrate the progress our world has made in giving women empowerment in social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities! 

At PMG, we take pride in our diverse workforce. There are countless women in leadership positions that contribute and drive our business to the success it is today. We reached out to one of our female leaders to hear her experience being a woman in the manufacturing industry. 

Kaylyn Roberts 

Kaylyn RobertsKaylyn Roberts, one of our Business Development managers, mentioned that one aspect of PMG she admires is the number of women in authoritative roles “PMG has so many females in leadership positions, and that was extremely encouraging for me and still is. I love that I work for a company that is unbiased.” 

Starting in a Leadership Role 

This has been Kaylyn’s first and only job out of college. This role was intimidating for her because she was not familiar with the manufacturing industry, but she did not let that discourage her. Kaylyn shared a story of how she made flashcards to practice and learn the language/process of the Manufacturing world to get herself up to speed. That awareness of what needs to be worked on and quickly addressing it with a solution is just one great reason why Kaylyn is in the leadership position she holds today. 

She mentioned that doing that hard work upfront allowed her to enjoy her new role sooner. “In any position you must put in the work, ask questions, and know when you need to ask for help,” Kaylyn said, when speaking on what women should know when starting a new job within a manufacturing company. Never Stop Learning Wooden Blocks

Encouraging Women to Join the Manufacturing World  

There has been immense progress in introducing more women to the opportunities that come with the manufacturing industry, but Kaylyn hopes that more women become open to the idea. A bit of sage knowledge from Kaylyn to those curious about where to start can be found below: 

  1. The industry is huge and there is always room to grow in your career! 
  2. There is a need for white collar positions in Sales, Project Management, and Human Resources. 
  3. Apply and go for it. Do not allow the Job titles to steer you away from applying. 
  4. Women technicians usually kill it when they take a position in a manufacturing facility. 
  5. The manufacturing world brings a vast financial opportunity. 
  6. If you have a good mindset and attitude, you can do anything. 

We all have odd habits and silly traditions. These things are different for all of us. Some seek fun or nostalgia. Others are after comfort or excitement. The truly great traditions in life seem to check all those boxes though and many here at FlexTrades have found just such a thing with the Polar Plunge! Our participation started on a whim – coworkers supporting coworkers, looking to have some fun, do some good, and check off an essential bucket list item of life in the North. By our second year, in 2019, Team FlexTrades had officially become a thing and an annual event had been born.

This year marked a milestone for us, with our 5th consecutive event, and we wanted to celebrate it appropriately. How, though? Well, by doing what FlexTrades always does – setting a goal and smashing it!

What is the Polar Plunge? 

The Polar Plunge is an annual event that occurs in many states across the northern US. Some places it’s called the Polar Bear Plunge. Regardless of what it’s called or where it happens, the plunge supports Special Olympics. These events normally happen with the assistance of local law enforcement associations to coordinate, prepare sites, and run events. Money raised is then directed to local Special Olympics organizations to help fund all their activities throughout the year. The financial impact of these events is more than significant – they’re outright critical. For example, all plunges in Minnesota this year have already raised almost $3.5 MILLION for Special Olympics Minnesota! 

What Do You Actually Do? 

An event can get elaborate, depending on location, but the act of plunging itself is straight-forward. First, volunteers cut a giant hole in a frozen lake then setup a giant inflatable polar bear tunnel and some grandstands. Next a local radio or TV station sends out someone to act as MC and host to guide the spectators (which can be anywhere from dozens to hundreds depending on the event) through the day’s activities. Finally, people with very warm hearts jump into very cold water for a great cause. Then they get out as quickly as they can and head for heated tents to change and celebrate! If this sounds like something you’d like to see or do, there are still events scheduled throughout the month of March and they’re totally free to attend!

How Did Team FlexTrades Do? 

In our first four years our plunge team raised over $16,000 dollars total and was consistently among the top fundraising corporations at our event – despite being a very small team in comparison to most others. This made us want to shoot big, so we did. We pushed hard to grow our team and ended up with our largest group of participants, 24 plungers, ever! We had some team members that had participated in every plunge and some who were going to their first. We even had some attend in their first year with FlexTrades. Current FlexTrades teammates, former coworkers, parents, children – this year was a collective representation of a true “work family.” Then we started raising funds. Based on the commitments individual team participants made at registration, Team FlexTrades was aiming to raise $4k but we set a stretch goal of $5k and a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of $6,000. By plunge day we had exceeded all of them! Raising a final total of $6,087 made this our best plunge yet!

When it was all said and done, we had our most fundraisers ever, most individual donations ever, highest number of plungers into the water ever, most kids participating ever, raised our annual average to over $5k per year, AND had a great time! 

What Happens to All That Money? 

This Special Olympics Minnesota makes a little go a long way and every dollar raised via a Polar Plunge is redirected back to SOMN organizations to do just that! From providing medals for athletes to paying for meals to forming new SOMN delegations and covering travel expenses to state, national, and international games – plunge dollars help fund everything that’s necessary for the Special Olympics. Team FlexTrades couldn’t be prouder to be a small part of that!  

More Information 

If you want to learn more about the when and why behind the start of Team FlexTrades and our Polar Plunge participation, read our previous blog about it. If you have questions about the plunge, Special Olympics, donating/participating, or FlexTrades’ involvement, please send them to our Writing Team to get answers! And never forget the creed all Special Olympic Athletes live and compete by, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

During a time in our world where the weight of current events weighs heavy on our hearts and minds, I want to turn for a moment to honor and pay tribute to the toy soldier. Those little green men are modeled after the true hero’s that defend our freedom and lay their lives on the line everyday. 

As a kid growing up during the Gulf War, in a family full of girls, we didn’t talk about war until it was all over the news. We never played out battle scenes in our back yard, with makeshift explosions or casualties of toy soldiers in elaborately created bunkers. Though, according to, ‘toy soldiers have been collected since the time of the Pharaohs.’ You can find photos of notable men like Winston Churchill and H.G. Wells playing with these little soldiers in their homes or on their lawns. Toy soldiers were essential to little boys growing up in the boomer age, until anti-war sentiment began in the late 60’s and consumers turned their noses up at the little green men. By the late 80’s though, those boomers were reminiscent of their cherished childhood toys and started collecting them as a hobby, bringing the toy soldier out of obscurity. Thanks to Disney Pixar’s ‘Toy Story’ in 1995, toy soldiers were back on the battle fields and ready to fight! World War 2 Reenactment (d-day). Creative Decoration With Toy So

Inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2014, these little green men have changed significantly over time. Originally cast out of metal, we are more familiar with the plastic toys we know and love today. According to an article in Plastics Today ( from September 2019, it was announced by one manufacturer that ‘it would integrate the ranks of the little green army men with women combatants starting in the fall of 2020. It’s a fitting new milestone for this decade-old iconic toy’ and dare I say, long overdue! 

Every holiday season, I shop at my favorite little boutique and stop at a booth decorated with stars and stripes, giving me an opportunity to write a note to a United States soldier. After my note is written and dropped into the mailbox, I grab a little green man from a bucket and am asked to keep it close at hand as a reminder of the sacrifices our true heroes have made.  Toy soldiers stand in a row. Composition of many toy soldiers. Military themed footage.

Today, as so many of us just wish and hope for peace and understanding throughout the world, I stare at my little green soldier, giving thanks for the strength, the persistence, the devotion, and the selflessness of a soldier. I hope you’ll consider doing the same, maybe even carrying around a toy soldier in your pocket so that every time your hand grabs it inadvertently or swipes it as you reach for your phone, you will take a moment to think of our brothers and sisters on the battle lines, fighting a battle far beyond our recognition. 

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. Additionally, the community asks a fair amount of questions too. In this blog, PMG answers the most common questions. 

Do I need a forklift certification? 

Great question! Forklift operation certifications are very common in the manufacturing industry, but you don’t need to carry an “active” forklift certification to be eligible to work on a PMG project. However, having been previously certified to operate a forklift is very much preferred experience for our technicians. This is simply because anyone who uses a forklift on our projects will have to certify to that client’s in-house standards while onsite.  

There are other certifications that are occasionally required for a technician to be eligible to work on PMG projects. The most common of these are OSHA and/or MSHA safety certifications as well as Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs). 

Interested in More? 

There are many other licenses and certifications, besides those previously mentioned, that can significantly help a technician qualify for a position or help themselves stand out amongst all those who do.  

  • Zippia has also selected a list of 20 that production workers should consider getting for a leg up on the competition in 2021.  

Rubber stamp forklift certifiedLooking to join our team? 

Recently graduated from a technical training program? Please consider joining our team through PMG ReTool. 

If you’ve got experience, we have opportunities for you too! Join our PMG Talent Network now. 

Have a question of your own? 

We want to answer your questions. If you have any at all, send them to and we will get them answered in future FAQs!