Work/Life balance matters to people, so much in fact, we even did a webinar about it. But many of us must travel frequently as part of our employment. Some, like all our skilled trades technicians here at PMG, even travel for extended periods of time. Why does anyone travel for work in the first place? How then does someone balance work with life when at least part of that life is happening a significant distance away? It’s true that travel can complicate the equation, especially for those with large families or young children. But there is still a balance to be found for us all. 

The following tips and tricks come from the best practices I’ve found in my own travel experiences and in interviews I’ve conducted with some of our most seasoned traveling professionals. I hope that all of you can find something that helps to dial in your own work life balance a little better. But remember, it’s essential to take care of you and your health first! Whether at work or in life, it’s hard to keep the cups of others filled if yours is always empty. 

Pre-Project 

Communicate – Be clear with your company about the tasks, goals, and challenges associated with your travel. Be clear with your family about where you’re going, what you’re doing, and when you expect to be back. Be proactive in communicating any changes with the above to any affected parties too. For example, if your return flight gets delayed let your spouse know you won’t be home for after-school pickup ASAP. 

Calendar – Schedule everything! When is your cousin getting married? If you need time off to get back for the ceremony, put in your request before your assignment starts. Do your kids have a choir concert at school? Just because you can’t make it live doesn’t mean that you can’t remember to ask about how it went.  

Coverage – Who gets called if a pipe bursts? Who is feeding your iguanas while you’re away? How about watering your garden? Just because you’re working on the road doesn’t mean time stops at home. Delegate responsibilities to family members and line up coverage for help (and backups) before you ever leave home. Remember Murphy’s Law (What can happen will happen.) then plan accordingly! 

On-Project 

Use Technology – Advances in technology have changed everything for people working on the road. A nightly call home has long been a staple to maintaining connections with family and friends. But things like FaceTime and Zoom mean that today we don’t just hear them, but we see them (and they see us) too! With four girls between 9 and 14, I’ve found a lot of value with the group we all share on Snapchat. I’m able to see their projects, hear their stories, and maintain conversations throughout my day (and at the convenience of my schedule).  

Participate – Technology is your friend here too. If you’re off shift, there’s no reason to miss a t-ball game just because you’re out of town. Have your spouse or a neighbor livestream the game and cheer from your hotel room. Does your family do a game night? Move it online and you can still take your turn from anywhere in the world. 

Share the Trip – This is critical. Sending a picture of something cool you’ve seen let’s your friends and family travel with you, at least in spirit. Bring something back as well. Every place I go for work, I always bring something back for my girls. It might be a souvenir from the airport, a shell from the beach, or a postcard. What it is doesn’t matter as much as what it does – namely, remind your loved ones that you took them with you and brought something back to prove it. Also, just because your family can’t travel with you for a full trip doesn’t mean they can’t come visit you for a shorter period. Many PMG technicians have friends and family stay with them for short portions of their assignments. This gives our techs a chance to share something special and their families a chance to share part of the assignment. It’s one of the favorite aspects of our model for all parties!technician on assignment with family on the beach

Post-Project 

Debrief – Work travel and family life aren’t perfect sciences; they can always be improved. This means you need to work diligently and intentionally at improving them though. When you return from a trip spend that evening saying hello and reconnecting. Then spend the next evening debriefing with your family. What went well? What didn’t? How can prep, planning, or execution change in the future to make things better? Once you have some ideas, put them on paper to make sure you remember to implement them for the next trip.  

Use Your Perks – One of the best ways to balance work and life when work takes you on the road is to share some of the benefits. Do you build up points with hotels or airlines from the trips that take you away from your family? Then use those points to take a trip WITH your family. Do you get swag from clients or prospects? Bring it home for the kids. The more all sides benefit from your travel, the easier it is for all sides to tolerate your travel. 3D illustration of FREQUENT FLYER title on cloudy sky as a background, under an airplane.

Embrace Imbalance – The simple fact is that there is no such thing as a true 50/50 balance to work and life at any given moment. There are always unplanned complications, fires to fight, or balls that are dropped. Spending a week on the road means that you can’t possibly spend 50% of your time at home that week. How do you achieve balance in the face of this reality then? For myself, and many others, this means taking less of a micro view of our time and more of a macro view. One PMG tech put it to me best in an interview when he said, “90 days on the road and 30 days at home may seem out of balance to some. They don’t understand though that when I’m away from home I’m not working constantly so I’m not 100% unavailable. But when I’m home, I’m 100% home. Taking the kids to school, volunteering, doing projects – I don’t have to use my time to do anything but those things, so I just make sure that’s what I do.” 

I hope these tips help improve your work/life balance equation the next time work takes you on the road. If they do, and you become more interested in regular road assignments, checkout our webinar Road Warrior to learn more about what it’s like to be a traveling trades technician with PMG! Then contact us if you’re still interested in a project (or in need of skilled techs who are). And remember, if you have ideas or questions of your own for a blog, we’d love to hear them! Just send them to our PMG Writing Team and we’ll cover them in future content. 

April is the month of showers, they bring May flowers. We all know that, but how much thought do you give to the showers that keep us smelling flowery all year round? Approximately 2 out of 3 Americans shower daily but that wasn’t always the case. 

While early peoples cleansed themselves in streams, pools, waterfalls, or even rain as necessary (and when available) fledgling societies continued to improve upon nature. The ancient Egyptians invented ceramic jugs to create the “portable” effect of a waterfall. The Greeks contributed piping systems and the Romans spread the concept of cleanliness (and its importance) throughout their empire. 

However, with the collapse of the Roman’s empire came the Dark Ages and the rise of Christianity across most of medieval Europe. Contrary to popular belief, interest in sanitation didn’t wane but access to public bathhouses did and the sophisticated water systems of the Romans were lost. 

This stalled the advancement of shower technology for several centuries, but it didn’t halt completely. By the 18th century interest in personal hygiene had rebounded and a stove maker from London decided to capitalize. William Feetham did this by patenting the first shower (at least as we’d recognize it today) in 1767. 

Historical Moments for Showers  

This first shower pumped water to a basin above the user’s head but was still limited to cold water (and reusing the same dirty liquid during each session). By 1810 heated water had been added and reliable plumbing was “rediscovered” by 1850 to eliminate the need to reuse fluid. 

For the next century, showers would grow in popularity through the US and England, but they still wouldn’t overtake the popularity of the more common tub until the 1980s. It was during this decade that the variety of options for shower heads, lights, and body jets began to explode. The choices for customization continue to multiply to this day, as does the popularity in showering. History of showers infographic

Showers Today 

Today, the global market for bath and shower products is worth almost $50 billion annually. This growing market hasn’t just benefited from the change in personal attitudes worldwide towards personal hygiene either. The increased importance many individuals place on environmental responsibility has led to advancements in efficiency as well. A 10-minute shower today, with modern equipment, can require almost four times less water than taking a bath. 

If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out our article on the history of foundries. Or you can watch this great video showing the mass production of showerheads and hoses to see how far we’ve come from ceramic jugs. And remember, the next time you have a question in the shower, we’re always happy to answer those too! Just send them to our writing team and we’ll try our best to answer them in a future blog. 

April 22, 2022

Let’s Invest in Our Environment

Earth Day is a great reminder to take care of our planet and environment. The theme this year for Earth Day is “Invest in Our Planet”, encouraging individuals, businesses, and governments to invest in technology and best practices that will benefit the health of our Earth.

Some ideas on how you can participate to keep our planet flourishing:

  • Pick up trash around your neighborhood
  • Recycle!!
  • Start a garden in your backyard
  • Bring a reusable cup when you go out for coffee
  • Go paperless for your billing statements
  • Walk or bike when you can. Take a break from the daily drive!
  • Choose to use containers instead of plastic bags
  • Bring your own bags when you go to the grocery store
  • Buy sustainably. Avoid fast fashion companies!
  • Donate to an environmental nonprofit

The small mindful actions in taking care of our planet make large impacts! Try to implement a few of these in your daily life and it will benefit our world.

April is a lot of things to a lot of people: 

  • It’s my daughter’s birth month, something she’ll bring up any day throughout the month to make sure we’re ready for it when the big day comes. 
  • It’s Autism Acceptance Month, an opportunity to share stories and increase understanding and acceptance of children and adults with autism.  
  • It’s the Month of the Military Child, “a child who early on learns that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences” (www.littletroopers.net). Little-Troopers-Donate-Life-Month
  • It conjures up childhood phrases like ‘April showers bring May flowers’ and ‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’. 

No matter what way you look at it, April brings hope and encouragement to each of us that the sun will eventually shine on our gloomy days, that good things are around the corner, (and that I’ve got a birthday party to plan so I better get on that). It’s also fitting that April is National Donate Life Month. 

My connection to organ donation started back in 1997, when I FINALLY got my drivers licenses and checked yes when asked if I was an organ donor. I don’t remember there being a lot of thought put into my yes or having a great understanding of what that meant, but it felt like the right thing to do, so I did it. 

My connection to organ donation grew deeper when my sister started dating my eventual brother-in-law back in the early 2000’s. Ben had received a bi-lateral lung transplant in his early teens. He was a character. A storyteller. A firecracker in a tiny package. Ben was someone who understood that each day was a gift, and he wasn’t going to waste the extra days he had been given. 

Skip ahead a decade and a half or so, and my father-in-law was placed on the donor list when he was in desperate need of a healthy liver and kidneys. I vividly remember the day we got the call that a donor had been found.  

  • It was a day of hope: for more years with his grandchildren, seeing them graduate from high school, seeing them walk down the aisle, and maybe even bouncing their children up and down on his knee someday (hip replacements and all).  
  • It was a day of thankfulness: that we were being given a second chance.  
  • And it was a day of incredible pain and sorrow: as we thought about the donor, and what their family must be going through. The worst day of their lives. Their final good-byes. Their dreams, dashed in an instant. 

Because of an infection, my father-in-law did not receive the gift of life that day, but the next person on the donor list did and they got to experience those same hopes and thanks along with those same pains and sorrows.  

A few things worth knowing from my favorite organ donation website, the Iowa Donor Network (https://www.iowadonornetwork.org/understanding-donation/current-statistics): 

  • Every 9 minutes a new person is added to the national organ transplant waiting list. 
  • An average of 17 people die each day while waiting. 
  • On average, 112 transplants take place every day in the U.S. 
  • In 2021, the lives of nearly 41,000 Americans were saved by organ donation. 
  • One donor can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and save and heal 50-300 lives through tissue donation. 

LifeSource, a nonprofit dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest, recently asked followers on their Facebook page to describe organ donation in one word. The responses to this simple question sum it up for me: 

  • Selfless
  • Miraculous
  • Comforting
  • Love
  • Legacy
  • Hope
  • A wish [come true]
  • Life (quite literally)
  • Hero
  • Everything

If you’d like to be someone’s hero, you can sign up to be an organ, tissue, and eye donor by going to https://www.donatelife.net/register/. Donate Life America Logo

You can be somebody’s love, their hope, their wish come true, their life, their hero, their everything! 

According to the CDC, roughly 5.4 million adults in the U.S. are autistic. This April, celebrate differences in honor of Autism Acceptance Month. Here are five ways you can celebrate peoples’ differences: 

1. Learn About Autism 

Check out the Autism Society and learn about Autism and how everyone’s story is different. 

2. Read a Book  

Population One: Autism, Adversity, and the Will to Succeed with give you a deeper understanding of what life looks like from the eyes of a teenager who is autistic. Population One Autism Adversity and the Will to Succeed Tyler McNamer

3. Volunteer at an Event 

Use organizations like JustServe and volunteer at local or remote events that encourage and celebrate differences.  

4. Participate in a Run/Walk  

Promote awareness and acceptance of Autism by participating in this virtual run/walk from anywhere you’d like.  

Autism Acceptance Run Walk April 1-30 2022

5. Get Involved 

Advocates, Non-Profits, and various communities work daily to support the continued development around policies and programs that provide a positive impact on individuals and families with autism. Use Autism Speaks Resource Guide to see where you can get involved in your local community. 

Spring means a lot of things across America but in hiring and educational circles it mostly means one thing – career fair season. There are events everywhere put on by schools, community groups, and sometimes even by employers. A fair is easy to find, you only need to look online or in your local paper but getting satisfactory results can be a lot more difficult. You can already find a lot of info online to help prepare for a fair ahead of time. But we’ve come up with three easy, actionable tips so everyone involved with a career fair can find success while at the event. 

Organizers

Door Prizes – Foot traffic is the name of the game for employer events. Prizes and giveaways can help a lot when it comes to getting people in the building for your event. Fewer prizes with bigger values will always be a bigger draw, even if it means you must give them away in a drawing or raffle. 

Employer Maps – Students, alumni, and community members come to a career fair to find a job. Make it easy for them to find the kind of jobs for which they’re searching. The easiest way to do this is with a booth map showing where each employer is located and clearly calling out the skillsets/positions for which they’re hiring. 

Walk Around – Surveys after the event can be helpful when planning for your next one but walking around during your event allows you to connect with employers and job seekers in real time. This gives you the best chance to put on a great event by ensuring you can tackle problems and questions immediately.Surveyor asking attendees questions about the career fair they are attending 

Employers

Make Jobs Obvious – Attendees at a career fair are looking for jobs. Make it easy for people with the right skills for the jobs you’re filling to find you. Hiring welders or drivers or office admins? Then say it clearly and specifically in your signage and table literature rather than something ambiguous like, “Now hiring for ALL positions.” 

Use Images – A picture says a thousand words, so using a view pictures or videos can replace thousands of words in your signage. This saves money and space as well as simplifying your message and creating a neater overall booth appearance. Quality images also help you draw more ESL speakers or people that may not read well from a distance into your booth too. 

Know Your Product – This may sound self-explanatory, but it is a frequent problem at career fairs. Companies often send out people that know their hiring process best, but those people don’t always know the day-to-day details of the work itself. Having an event team that can speak to the full employee experience (onboarding, compensation, benefits, daily work duties, etc.) goes a long way to generating interested candidates. 

Job Seekers

Do Your Research – Some hiring events can get truly huge with hundreds of employers and thousands of job seekers. Showing up unprepared to such an event is a sure way to get overwhelmed quickly. To avoid this, do your homework first. Research employers on the internet ahead of time to create a list of target companies you want to connect with and to make sure you have questions ready for them once you do! 

Take Notes – You can make a great many connections, and learn a lot of information, in a short time at a career fair. Don’t trust your memory to remember it all! Whether you take an actual notebook, take pictures and notes on your phone, or just jot down details on the back of business cards – writing down who said what and when will be extremely helpful for follow ups and actual interviews. 

Make It a Game – The real benefit to a career fair for a job seeker is sheer volume. The more potential employers you talk to, the more likely you are to find the right opportunity for you. To capitalize on this, try incentivizing yourself to hit as many booths as possible. You can do so by pre-determining a “reward” for yourself if you speak with X number of employers or simply making a competition between friends to see who can connect with the most. 

We hope you find this list helpful in getting the most out of the next employer event you attend. If it winds up leading you to your next career, you may want some additional help too. Check out our previous blog about what not to do at a new job to make sure you win your first day! And remember, if you have ideas for things to do, or NOT to do, (or places and situations in which you shouldn’t do them) we’re happy to share those too! Just send them to our PMG Writing Team and we’ll cover them in a future blog. 

Think back to when you were a nine-year-old. What did you like to do for fun? I remember riding my bike around our neighborhood, riding up and down ramps and near electrical boxes, pretending I was working at a bank. I remember playing tag with my sisters as the sun went down, calling out our favorite TV show before someone could yell ‘you’re it’. I remember swinging on our swing set, or even better yet, going to the park to swing on the big swings, and swinging so high the alligators couldn’t bite my toes. 

So often today, when our children are looking for something to do, they turn straight to technology and miss out on the opportunity to let their imagination run free.  

In honor of National Encourage a Young Writer Day on April 10th, I challenge you to challenge your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, even your neighbor kids to unplug and get creative! Here are a few tips from waterford.org that may help you help them get their creative juices flowing: 

  1. Start a journal. This gives young writers a place to record their daily writing and create essays, poems, and stories. 
  2. Encourage writing exercises. Writing prompts and a little direction can help a child use their imagination to write a story. 
  3. Integrate reading activities. The more a child reads, the easier it is to develop writing skills. 
  4. Mix up the writing style. Give children different writing styles to help them see an idea or story from a new perspective. 

Young boy learning to become a writer at his deskIf that doesn’t help with inspiration, you can always just do what I did this week in preparation for writing this article. I reached out to PMG parents, as well as my own sisters, and asked them to ask their kids to be published authors for me. Let these kids help inspire your children as well – it doesn’t have to be hard to write, that’s the beauty of writing! 

Roses are red 
Violets are blue 
Dogs go bark 
Cows say moo. 
~ Ainsley, 8 

Roses are red 
Violets are blue 
Blossoms are sweet 
And so are you. 
~ Ainsley, 8  
 

I love you mom.
I will always keep you company.
I’m happy I have you.
~ Sawyer, 8
  

Where I’m From 

I am from many places 
From coast to coast 
I am the leaf in the wind 
I am from the piece of the dandelion that you blew on  

I’m from the bowl of honeycomb 
and the blanket that gets dragged
From Benjamin & Evelyn 
I’m from the top of the mountain and I’m only halfway up 

Under my bed are the memories from the past 
They are the things I want to remember for the rest of my days 
And the things I want to forget about, but not before I can learn from them 

 I am from those moments. 
~ Landon, 16 

As a Project Manager there are many responsibilities to ensure that the entire operation is running smoothly. We sat down with a few of our project managers to hear how they keep their team and clients happy.  

Stephen DeTombe and Daniel O’Driscoll shared their best practices when it comes to keeping everyone content. 

Tips to keeping the team happy: 

  • Respect every team member 
  • Fully present during each conversation 
  • Follow through with their requests 
  • Remember the personal things they share with you (family, hobbies, favorite teams… etc.) 
  • Daily walk throughs on-site 
  • Face-to-face communication whenever possible 

Tips to keeping the client happy:  

  • Stay professional, courteous, and friendly 
  • Anticipate their needs 
  • Responsive to issues with efficient solutions 
  • Be an ally in their successes 
  • Face-to-face interactions with the client 

These simple actions ensure that we all reach success and completion!! Skillful worker stand together showing teamwork in the factory . Industrial people and manufacturing labor concept .

The future of manufacturing lies in the hands of automation. Industry 4.0 is where it’s at and that means robotics, PLCs, and CNC. If you’re in the CNC machining trade now, or would like to be, growing your career from CNC Operator or CNC Machinist to CNC Programmer is a great way to pave your career path and going back to school is a great place to start.The operator setup the CNC machine milling machine by press the controller keypad. The CNC machining center operation by skill operator.

If you’re committed to becoming a CNC Programmer, start by enrolling into a local technical college to get a CNC Programmer or CNC Programming certificate, diploma, or degree. Consider the following items when you’re determining where to go.

    • Does the school have curriculum approved by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS)? NIMS establishes standards for CNC Programming and CNC Programmer Certifications within trade schools.  
    • Does the school have quality equipment and software for hands-on experience? Mastercam is a very common programming language in the CNC world and will open doors for you in the programming world.  Operator working at programmable machine. CNC machine.
    • What is the length of the program? What amount of time can you commit to this endeavor? Getting a CNC Programming certificate will take less time than getting a CNC Programming Diploma which takes less time than getting an associate degree.
    • What is the cost of the program, can you commit to the cost, and is there value in what you’re getting for the cost?
    • Location, location, location. Do you need online options, or can you do in-person learning?
    • Consider working for PMG. One of the great benefits we offer our technicians is training reimbursement. We have a great program in place that allows you to build upon your current skills and education by reimbursing up to $2,000 for approved courses relevant to your trade.