I’m a big advocate for the skilled trades in general, and manufacturing specifically. I spend a lot of time and energy to get in front of the next generation of our workforce at high schools, technical colleges, military reintegration units, and other vocational training programs around America. Whenever I’m lucky enough to be granted access to such a program, I obviously spend some time speaking about the opportunities to work at FlexTrades and passing along the tribal knowledge I’ve picked up over the decades that I’ve found to be critical to success in any industry. But I’m always surprised how much time I spend answering questions about the skilled trades themselves.  

It reinforces to me how poorly those of us within the trades have marketed ourselves over the past half-century. But these questions are also an important reminder for me to remember that people outside of our industries don’t have the knowledge that insiders do. Because of this, it’s important to be able to speak to the basics – especially when talking to younger audiences. With this in mind, I’d like to share 10 of the questions I most commonly get about the trades (and how I answer them) with all of you. 

 

1) I’m not mechanically inclined or into working with my hands. Is there an opportunity for me to work in the skilled trades? 

There is an opportunity in the trades for everyone, regardless of what their natural aptitudes may be. First, being mechanically inclined is important but the continuing development of tools and technology make that less of a necessity every day. To be clear, you’ll still need to use tools to work in a hands-on position. I’m just saying those tools get easier to use well and require less expertise to do so all the time. This means the industry is trying to make itself more welcoming for all skill levels. But let’s say you are one of those people that just isn’t capable of that kind of work. There’s still a home for you in the trades! From sales to HR to project management to design to administration, trades-oriented companies need all the peripheral and support skills that any other company needs. Don’t ever forget that! 

 

2) Do I need to go to college to work in the trades? 

Plain and simple, no. This doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, just that it’s not a requirement. Whether working in construction, agriculture, or manufacturing, I have worked with individuals who followed all possible paths to success. They may look different, but they lead to the same place. If school isn’t for you and you need to get to work, starting in an entry-level position with a company that provides lots of on-the-job training and plentiful advancement opportunities can be a great way to grow your career. If you have a passion for a particular trade or a firm idea of what path into trades work you want to follow, going to the right local vocational program can be a wonderful option to start. Maybe a four-year degree experience is what you want. That doesn’t mean we don’t need you in the trades! Business, communications, engineering, design, and management majors are just a few of the degree paths that are still much in demand at companies across the trades. 

 

3) What is the best program to take to get a job in the trades? 

The best program to take is the one that fits your interests, skills, and schedule the best. That’s the easy answer. The more complex answer is that it depends on where you’re from and where you’re going. This means that the same school can have programs that are much different when it comes to the quality of their training or the quality of their network. The network can be just as important as the training, because even the best training doesn’t do you much good if nobody is trying to hire graduates from your program. You should also keep this thought in mind when considering local demand for talent. If a school has a great welding program but your desired geographical area has few welding or fabrication shops, you may still struggle to get hired even with excellent skills. All of this means the more homework you do before selecting a program, the less hustling you’ll have to do to get hired after completing it. 

 

4) I want to be an entrepreneur and run my own business. How does a goal like that fit in the trades? 

In short, perfectly! There are well over 250,000 manufacturers, and close to 500,000 construction companies, in just the United States. The vast majority (well over 75% in any given year) are considered to be mid- or small-sized companies. More than half of them employ 20 people or less. This means that most companies employing tradespeople are technically small startups owned and operated by entrepreneurs, and most of them came to that place by starting in bottom rung roles not by pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship or significant amounts of venture capital first. All these numbers add up to one inescapable fact, there isn’t an industry that is more inclined to upward mobility or entrepreneurial growth than the skilled trades. 

 

5) I don’t have many tools. How does a person start a skilled trade career without their own tools? 

By working for a company that doesn’t require you to provide them. This may sound simple but that’s because it is. There are barriers to employment in any industry. The expense of tools can be a big one in the trades. But not every company requires you to provide your own and many that do will provide assistance with your purchases. Tools can be a complicator, but the right research can make sure they’re not a deal breaker. 

 

6) I come from a small town without a lot of employment opportunities locally. How do I get started in the skilled trades? 

Maybe you start your own company. Maybe you temporarily relocate to begin your career so you can start building experience. Or maybe you come work for FlexTrades. We have projects all around America where your skills are in demand. Whether you’re just starting your career, or well along your career path, we have opportunities for you. Almost all of our work requires travel, but you’ll never have to permanently relocate, and you can homebase from anywhere across the country. If this sounds like you, check out our available openings now! 

 

7) Is it hard to start a career in the skilled trades? 

No. People interested in starting are very much in demand and there are many ways in which they can begin. Entry level work with a local company, apprenticeship programs through companies or unions, associates degrees from vocational schools, condensed training programs, military service – all these paths can lead you to a successful career in the trades. You just need to pick the one that’s right for you and then stay on it! 

 

8) Are there opportunities to grow my career once I get started in the trades? 

Of course! Just like any company, there are many ways you can job up. Seniority can get you better pay or more responsibility at some companies. Continuing education or ongoing certification can help you advance at others. Experience alone can help push you up the ladder since knowing the ins and outs of a company often gives internal candidates a leg up on the competition when it comes to new openings and advancement opportunities. The only thing that really can hold your career growth back in the skilled trades is your personal ambition or creativity. 

 

9) Will I make as much money as a “white collar” job? 

Most likely? Yes! While top earners in any one trade may not make what top earners in certain “white collar” fields make (think surgeons compared to great welders) when talking about the “average” worker it’s not even close. There is too much variation in annual average and median incomes, based on location, for me to start quoting them now. What I’ll say is that, wherever you live around the US, do a quick internet search using these phrases “median (insert skilled trade of choice, such as Welder) income for (insert your local zip code) compared to other occupations”. I promise your results will be surprising. 

 

10) What trade is most in-demand? 

That answer varies significantly with geography. For example, injection-mold operators are a lot more likely to be in demand somewhere that has many aviation or automotive manufacturers because they do a lot of injection-molding. However, I tend to encourage people to pursue maintenance careers when they know they want to work in the trades but aren’t sure which trade. Why? Because no matter what changes occur with equipment we use or how we use it, somebody will always be needed to troubleshoot, maintain, and repair that equipment. Maintenance is a great trades career for a lot of reasons but job security like that is one of the big ones. 

 

More FAQs 

I hope you found value in this list and that you’re more prepared to advocate for careers in the skilled trades in the future. If you’d like more answers, check out our blog page to see other questions we’ve covered in the past. Got a question or answer of your own to share? We’d love to help you do that! Send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to share them in a future blog.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) occurs in Chicago every two years. It is normally one of the biggest events worldwide in all of manufacturing but, after a 4-year gap due to COVID concerns in 2020, this year was even bigger. IMTS 2022 didn’t just represent a symbolic return to “normal” for our industry or a chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Rather, it was a celebration of all we’ve missed in the last couple years AND everything new we get to look forward to in the years to come. FlexTrades was there last week, and we had so many amazing experiences, interactions, and takeaways that we can’t possibly share them all. However, we do have some highlights we want to make sure you didn’t miss. 

By the numbers 

IMTS, even for veteran attendees, is overwhelming. It takes up all McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America, and an entire week of the calendar. The raw size and scale of the venue and exhibits creates a sense of shock and awe for first time attendees. Meanwhile, the sheer number of people creates not just a crowd but an energy that can be felt physically. A great way to start wrapping your mind around IMTS is to begin with the numbers. 

 

  • 2.6 million Square feet of exhibit space utilized by vendors and conferences 
  • 1.3 million Square feet taken up by display booths alone 
  • 86,307 Total individuals who attended at least one day this year 
  • 33 Number of times IMTS has been held in Chicago 
  • 2,000+ Total exhibitors displaying products and solutions 
  • 117 Number of countries with exhibitors or visitors in attendance 
  • 57 million Total weight (in pounds) of equipment and material on display 
  • 9 Number of pavilions featuring displays (each a trade show unto itself) for different specialties 
  • 12 Total conferences occurring during the week 
  • 9 Specialty attractions, including a demo of a JET SUIT! 
  • Countless Number of demonstrations, conversations, and ideas that occurred 

 

By the images 

Words can say a lot about IMTS, but pictures and videos say even more. Here are links to some from the Association of Manufacturing Technology (AMT), the host of IMTS, and FlexTrades. 

 

T-minus two years 

The star of IMTS 2022 was all of us, our excitement to reconnect, and our hunger to tell the stories of our industry like never before. The increase in media and content creators in attendance was noticeable this year. We expect that number to grow even more by the time IMTS 2024 arrives. But we don’t want you to wait years to see and learn more! If you found this content interesting and informative, we put out new industry content all the time. Follow FlexTrades on your social media platform of choice or check out our blog page to make sure you don’t miss out. And, of course, if you have other ideas for topics you’d like to know more about, or questions for FlexTrades, just send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to cover them in a future article or video.  

This week was National Payroll Week which is observed in recognition of all employees and the payroll professionals who pay them. These groups are put together because they collectively handle, report, contribute or otherwise touch 70% of the US Treasury’s annual revenue. Wow! In honor of the week, we asked our accounting department what they think your accounting department wants you to know. We learned 5 big things from them. 

Regularly Review Your Pay Stub 

This is not only to ensure your pay is accurate either. Things to review include other pay items such as deductions and taxes. 

Please be sure to send any updates, changes, or information as soon as possible. There is processing time between when information is received to funds being paid, and this will help ensure timely inclusion in payroll. 

Make Sure to Keep Them Updated 

Please be sure to send any updates, changes or information as soon as possible. There is processing time between when information is received to funds being paid, and this will help ensure timely inclusion in payroll. 

It’s Just Math 

“Accountants aren’t any more qualified than you to divvy up the bill at a restaurant.” Bring a calculator and figure out the tip yourself. You’ve got this. 

Fun Fact 

The most common pay frequency in the U.S. is biweekly, which is used by 37 percent of private businesses. Surprisingly, weekly beats semimonthly as a runner-up at 32 percent. 

More Tips & Tricks 

I hope you found value in this list. If you’d like to learn more about your accounting department, give them a call or email and I bet you’ll be glad you did. If you’d like more lists check out our blog page to see more. Did we miss something about accounting that you’d like to share? We’d love to help you do that! Send to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to share them in a future blog. Stay cool and be safe this summer!

September is International Update Your Resume Month. Most careers require a resume as part of consideration for employment but too often people try to write a resume at the last minute. Since a well-done resume takes time and research to create, the last minute is the worst time for jobseekers to make one. Making this month the perfect reminder to get YOUR resume ready for the next unexpected opportunity to pop up. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you craft a resume that work for you rather than against! 

Honesty is the best policy 

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 1 in 4 hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a resume but 75% of them have still caught a lie while doing so, leading them to not follow up with that candidate. This means that honesty is your best policy when applying for a job. Not only because it can hold you back but because you’re not setting yourself up for future success even if you do get a call back! 

Proof(reading) is in the pudding 

“You’re not hiring me to write so why does my resume matter?” I hear that all the time from those working more technical roles, like machinists and welders. But, in the era of online applications and telephone interviews, even for the technical trades your resume matters more than ever today. Why? Because a hiring manager sees your resume before they ever see you or your work, making it your best opportunity to put your most (or least) professional foot forward first. Thus, proofing for proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling help subconsciously reflect your strengths like thoroughness, attention to detail, and willingness to take the extra step. 

Be specific and detailed 

If nobody has told you yet, everyone in a hiring position uses resume-reading programs. If your resume is found on an online platform it’s found because it contained certain keywords that were used as search terms. This means that even the right experience can be missed by hiring managers if it’s not being represented by the words and phrases they’re using to search for candidates. How then does a jobseeker succeed? By using this knowledge to their advantage when writing their resume. For example, if you’re a welder looking to highlight your TIG (GTAW) welding experience a quick Google search will show you that kind of welding is searched for most commonly as ‘TIG’ or ‘GTAW’. Therefore, you should make sure to use both terms within your resume and you should avoid other punctuation marks like hyphens or backslashes. If you do so, more eyeballs will see your resume, and you’ll get more interview requests and job offers as a result. 

References: Professional vs Personal 

When asked to provide references most of us generally submit the people that know us best because they are the ones most likely to say good things about us. But remember, no matter how good, or true, the things your friends and former coworkers have to say about you are it doesn’t make them a professional reference. A truly professional reference is not just somebody that knows you or someone you’ve work with before. Rather it is somebody you’ve worked FOR (shift leads, supervisors, foremen, trainers, etc.) because those are the kind of references that can speak about you as a technician, person, coworker, AND employee. When you have a reference like that to make sure you have good contact information for them and give them a heads up you’ve used them as a reference. This last part is important. Make sure they reliably respond to outreach, because even the best reference in the world doesn’t do you any good if they don’t answer when called. 

 

I hope these tips encourage you to update your own resume and, hopefully, make doing so a little easier. If you’d like to find other ways to celebrate International Update Your Resume Day, there are many more options on the web. We’ve done blogs on other topics jobseekers might find helpful, interview tips. Check them out on our blog page. And, of course, if you have other resume tips or questions just send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to cover them in a future article. 

National Grief Awareness Day is August 30 this year. It began almost a decade ago. The intention of this day (and National Grief Awareness Month throughout all of September) is to raise overall awareness of the many ways those affected by grief cope with loss, provide resources to those going through personal losses, and to remind us all the importance of supporting people we know to be grieving. Like many silent struggles, there are many tools available to the individual experiencing grief but there is often a stigma associated with needing or using them. To try and reduce the stigma around conversations about grief, I’d like to talk to you about my personal experience using one of the tools available to millions of Americans attempting to manage their grief – their EAP (Employee Assistance Program). 

What is Grief? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, grief is a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people, regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one or from a terminal diagnosis they or someone they love have received. The feelings associated with grief can vary greatly from person to person and so can how long it most strongly affects people. People can also use a wide range of tools to cope with grief, both internal and external. If you’re uncertain about whether your grieving process is normal, consult your health care professional. Outside help is sometimes beneficial to people trying to recover and adjust to a death or diagnosis of a terminal illness. 

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? 

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. EAPs traditionally have assisted workers with issues like alcohol or substance misuse; however, most now cover a broad range of issues such as child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, wellness matters and traumatic events like workplace violence. Programs are delivered at no cost to employees by stand-alone EAP vendors or providers who are part of comprehensive health insurance plans. Services are often delivered via phone, video-based counseling, online chatting, e-mail interactions or face-to-face. 

How do you use an EAP for grief assistance? 

My father died on Halloween of 2021. Dad and I were close and his passing was not peaceful or pleasant. I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily struggled since losing him, but I can’t pretend I’ve thrived either. Some days I find myself crying in the car for no reason and others I feel like my focus is affected. When I was first reminded that our EAP through FlexTrades had resources for dealing with grief I checked them out online and found them helpful. When another bad day hit me months later, I decided to call and use one of the 3 annual sessions with a trained and licensed councilor which my EAP provides. I was connected and prescreened to make sure I was not in need of emergency assistance then we simply had a conversation. We talked about the things I’ve been feeling and the things many others typically feel in my situation. Then we discussed avenues and alternatives to coping. Finally, we talked about professional service providers in my area and the counselor even was able to provide a list of those I could call in my area that matched my requirements and were covered under my insurance plan. It was easy, non-judgmental, helpful, and surprisingly cathartic.  

Ways to cope 

What I learned from that counseling call was that my, and everyone else’s, experience with grief is unique. There is no right or wrong way to act or feel nor is there a “proper” amount of time for those feelings to last. But there are simple ways you can cope with grief. 

  • Give yourself permission to take as much time as you need to help you move forward through processing your loss. 
  • Surround yourself with caring, supportive people. 
  • Find safe ways and places to express your feelings without hurting yourself or others. 
  • Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Maintain as much of your “normal” routine and schedule as possible. 

Empathetic grief is normal 

Grieving isn’t just for those experiencing loss but for those who care about those who’ve lost. If you are a friend of someone currently experiencing grief don’t be frustrated if you’re struggling to support them. It can be difficult but try to remember these 5 things as a guide. 

  • Be a supportive, caring listener. 
  • Be a “safe friend” accepting your friend’s feelings, even those that are more negative. 
  • Continue to reach out a month or more after the funeral. 
  • Help your friend slow down their decision-making process when making changes following loss. 
  • Let your friend know that it’s ok to not be “normal” yet at work and socializing, regardless of time-frame. 

Recently, one of my streaming services had The Machinist in a list of movies recommended for me to watch next. I’ve seen the movie before and, at least from a critic’s perspective, it’s a fine film. Dark, suspenseful, surprising – it really does check a lot of boxes that normally indicate a great movie. But thinking about the film reminded me that it’s potentially frustrating to watch if you’re a machinist or somebody else working in a shop environment. For those of you who haven’t seen The Machinist yet, I’ll tell you why. 
 

PPE

When was the last time you were in a shop, even a very small one, and didn’t see anyone utilizing their personal protection equipment? For me, it’s been a VERY long time. Having the right PPE is so important we actually published a checklist for technicians. However, you can watch every single shop-scene in this movie and not see a single set of safety glasses or hearing protection. Not even one! Some core scenes in this film are set around injuries that happen, or nearly happen, around production machines. Yet, somehow, nobody chooses to opt for extra PPE, even after they see a coworker gruesomely hurt. I dislike this part of The Machinist the most because it perpetuates a narrative about manufacturing that hasn’t fit the industry appropriately for decades. 
Screenshot of shop with no PPE in sight

Machine Tool Safety

Speaking of those machines, where are the guards? Why so lax on proper procedure? At one point, the main character brings up OSHA workplace standards regarding Lockout/Tagout requirements. Does his supervisor or coworkers appreciate his input? Of course not! Instead, he gets grumbles, snide remarks, and rolled eyes. All because he’s reminding them that there is an industry regulation already in place to prevent exactly the kind of injury that occurs later in the film. First, having spent plenty of time in a shop, I can tell you this attitude is inaccurate. I’ve forgotten LOTO myself a couple times when rushing and, I can promise you, it wasn’t my coworker who was embarrassed when it was brought to my attention. Second, portraying such disregard for such fundamental procedures in a film famed for being “realistic” creates a false sense of accuracy too. This in turn goes on to undermine industry integrity for everyone unfamiliar with production environments. 
 

Environment

The theme of misrepresentation in this movie continues when you consider the physical environment of the shop itself. The Machinist is a dark and dirty movie, so it’s understandable that cinematographers chose to reflect that with the shop set they created. Understandable but sadly still a totally inaccurate representation of most modern machining facilities today. In a post-Kaizen, Six Sigma-focused industry the “standard” shop is now much different. Well lit, well ventilated, and clean is now the norm for everything from the machine to the shop floor. Part of the reason that the skills gap even exists in the trades is because media continues to portray the industry with such dated imagery. 
 

Workforce Attitude 

Another contributor to our current labor supply problem in manufacturing has a lot to do with the perceived attitude of our workforce. People in blue collar roles are commonly shown to be unwelcoming, unhelpful bullies. 

Man motioning decapitation at main character

Members of younger generations entering the workforce today are a product of an education system full of anti-bullying policies and they are unwilling to tolerate the idea of something else in their workplace. Movies like The Machinist add fuel to this fire making potential machinists and fabricators think that all their coworkers will be rude, uncaring jerks just waiting for a chance to retaliate. This is most unfortunate of all the film’s missteps because those of us already working in and around the trades know the opposite to be true. Namely, these aren’t our father’s factories we’re working in or their colleagues we’re working alongside. Rather, machinists today work in facilities using the most modern tools, processes, environments, procedures, AND mentalities. 

That’s why The Machinist is a terrible movie for machinists. If this article still makes you want to watch the film yourself, it’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Whether you’ve seen it already or not, I hope it also makes you watch it differently than you would have otherwise. Our industry needs more thoughtful consideration about how we’re represented and how we represent ourselves. Got another movie you think is terrible (or wonderful) to watch for people in the trades? We’d love to hear about it. Send suggestions to our Writing Team and maybe you’ll hear what we think about it in a future review.

The start of the next school year is just around the corner. Anyone with a TV or a smartphone knows that. We see lots of articles and lists about what is best and worst for students to buy or use. Most of this information is aimed at the traditional K-12 or college student. What about those getting ready to start technical or vocational programs? They are still going to school and have many of the same needs and concerns any student does. However, those preparing for technical careers need to consider additional requirements due to the specific demands of their program or the physical environment of their lab (shop). The following recommendations are sure to help anyone training for the trades to show up on day one just a little more prepared. 

  1. Backpack Every student needs a backpack but students in technical and trades programs need a backpack that can carry tools and hold up to the elements. There are many great options on the market, depending on your needs and tools. Some can get expensive though and price is still a consideration for those just beginning a career. This tool backpack from Milwaukee is the best combo of features, quality, and price you’ll find on the market. And it even has a padded sleeve for your laptop!
    Milwaukee Backpack
  2. Tech Organizer Technical education and technology go hand in hand, so keeping wires untangled is a major concern. The modern student has an ever-growing collection of gadgets, chargers, and cables. Organizers are a great way to keep such things protected and easily accessible. A quick Google search can reveal a lot of options for organizers. Bigger is normally better, especially if you must carry a brick charger for your computer, but slimmer is easier to store. Also, while durability is almost always a concern in the trades, a pouch like this will normally be stored within another bag. This means you can feel free to opt for a cheaper option when you have the choice. A great middle ground selection is this one from mDesign. 
    Tech Organizer
  3. Pen & Paper When you start a technical training program, you’ll spend plenty of time in the classroom. You’ll also find yourself in the shop or the elements frequently. This means your writing equipment needs to function in all conditions. There are plenty of pricey choices available but there are inexpensive options out there that still perform their best when the weather is at its worst. Consider this paired trio from my personal collection, a Rite in the Rain weatherproof notebook and a Zebra F-701 loaded with a Fisher Space Pen refill. The notebook won’t get damaged if you spill on it and will retain its shape even in your pocket. The pen is sturdy and runs pressurized ink cartridges, like Fishers, but costs much less than other options. Combining these items allows you to write in wet conditions, upside down, even in space (seriously, that’s why they call them Space Pens) so you’re sure your notes will always outlast the conditions. 
    Weather Proof Notepad
  4. Post-Its Speaking of writing, if you want to leave a note around the site or your shop you want it to be seen. Post-It notes are great for this but don’t always love the dust, grease, dirt, and grime of many environments. 3M fixed this when they released Post-It Extreme Notes. These will work indoors or outdoors. They’re water-resistant, have 100x the holding power vs the originals, and they’ll still attach/detach without leaving residue.
    Post-It Extremes
  5. Network Everything you learn in a technical program will be important. But, just like anything else in life, what you know generally matters less than who you know. It’s essential that the modern tradesman starts building their network as soon as they start building their tool collection. This network of instructors, co-students, friends, family, and people connected to your school or trade will not only help you prepare for your first job, it’s very possible your network may be what leads you to that first job or the next. I’ve previously covered an easy way anyone can build their professional network using just 10 minutes a day. Read about my 30-day LinkedIn Challenge to learn more. 

I hope you found these recommendations helpful. If you’d like some help choosing other equipment like lunchboxes or building your tool collection, you should check those blogs out as well! And remember, we’re always looking for ideas. If you have one for a future review or list, please send it to our Writing Team and we’ll be sure to cover it in a future article. 

Personnel Management Group Inc. 

7/25/2022 

 

PMG, Inc. Announces Rebrand to FlexTrades 

PMG built our reputation on the flexibility of our skilled trades technicians and the solutions they help us provide to the American manufacturing industry. Now we want that flexibility to be evident from the first time you hear our name – FlexTrades! 

 

Minneapolis, MN July 25, 2022. PMG, Inc., a premier traveling workforce solutions provider serving companies across all industries of manufacturing, announced today that it has completed a major rebranding. This rebrand will allow the company to more clearly represent who they are and what they do while also reflecting the flexibility of the solutions they offer clients and the employment they provide their skilled tradespeople. 

Established in 2004, PMG is a leader in deploying skilled industrial and engineering talent to clients in need of creative solutions to address production gaps. PMG leans on its nationwide workforce while managing all associated details, big and small, to deliver the right talent match for each client project. The rebranding to FlexTrades is comprehensive across all platforms. A new logo, colors, documents, branded materials, and website will launch in coordination with the name change.  

While much of what they “look like” will change along with the name – nothing else will. FlexTrades will continue to provide the same highly skilled resources they always have to production-focused facilities across the nation with the same level of service and satisfaction their clients and technicians alike have come to expect. 

“Our name and logo may be changing,” said Dave Jacobsen, FlexTrades CEO & Founder, “but what we do and how we do it won’t change in the slightest. The mission of PMG is to make a difference every day through its impact on American production. That will continue to be the FlexTrades mission today, tomorrow and into the future.” 

Visit www.flextrades.com to explore the new website, brand, logo and more to learn how FlexTrades can make a difference for you. 

About FlexTrades 

FlexTrades is a premier traveling workforce solutions provider offering bespoke services to manufacturing, logistics and distribution companies across all sectors of the industry coast to coast. Established in 2004, FlexTrades is a leader in deploying skilled industrial and engineering talent to client facilities experiencing production shortfalls, skill gaps or operational backlogs. FlexTrades leverages its vast network of skilled trade technicians while seamlessly handling all travel logistics, administration, and personnel management to ensure the right talent for each project. The FlexTrades mission is to make a difference every day through its impact on American production. The success of this commitment is evident in the thousands of individuals annually provided with work that matters and by the ever-growing satisfaction of clients, technicians, corporate team members, partners, and communities. 

Media Contact: 

Josh Erickson 

Public Relations & Engagement Specialist 

jerickson@pmgservices.com 

952-693-2801

Break Production Records:

Due to a large backlog, FlexTrades deployed 30 General Assemblers to a client who manufactures transmission components. Our Technicians were trained, certified and producing parts in 1.5 hours. Additionally, our Technicians broke their production record after just one week on the project, and consistently produced at higher levels than expected.

Boost Production Capabilities:

A FlexTrades client in the Aerospace Product & Parts Manufacturing industry was experiencing a major delay and backlog from their supplier, which was creating further backlog. FlexTrades’ CNC Machinists helped boost production capabilities and achieve parts goal in eight weeks, helping our client save their accounts and take on additional business.

Address Production Gaps:

When new government EPA regulations were put in place, a locomotive manufacturer received an influx of orders with a deadline that seemed impossible to meet with their existing workforce. FlexTrades deployed 25 skilled welders along with painters and electrical assemblers, allowing this client to meet their production deadlines and secure an additional $10M in orders that they would have otherwise lost to their competition.

Increase Number of Shifts:

A large food manufacturer was starting a second shift due to increased demand and production requirements. FlexTrades deployed highly skilled Machine Operators, Sanitation Technicians and Maintenance Technicians with food industry experience to start their second shift. Additionally,  FlexTrades Technicians helped train fulltime. As a result of this partnership, this client was able to produce from day one and skill-up their own workforce.

Get Idle Machines Running:

A client was facing a tight local labor market which left CNC machinery idle on their shop floor and a large backlog. FlexTrades deployed three CNC Machinists for a 3-month project to help get their machines running and eliminate backlog. When our client found local fulltime employees, our technicians helped train those employees in prior to moving on to their next FlexTrades project.

Meet Your Deadlines:

A plastics manufacturer that caters to the food and packaging industry fell behind on their shipments due to implementing a new warehouse management system. We deployed over 60 FlexTrades’ Forklift and Material Handlers to several of their facilities across the country to help meet their production goals. Our technicians came in, ramped up quickly and completed warehouse goals faster than our client expected.

Do What You Do Best:

A client won a major contract that required them to assemble and install 10 generators for a new 150,000 square foot data center. They had tight delivery deadlines to meet and if not met, would result in significant financial repercussions. FlexTrades deployed seven of our highly skilled Maintenance Technicians and Assemblers and helped our client meet their deadlines. With the immediate

Tackle Labor Shortages:

We completed a 3-month project with a client in casted parts manufacturing. This client had recently lost three of their most tenured machinists and struggled to find local talent to backfill those positions. We deployed four of our machinists who were up-to-speed in under two weeks. At the end of the project, this client shared that our machinists matched their tenured, fulltime machinists with minimal training, had excellent throughput with minimal scrap, and helped them cut past-due hours by approximately 75%.

It’s been less than a month since spring officially turned to summer and most of America is already sizzling. Here in Minnesota, we have more than 10,000 lakes, streams, and rivers we can jump in to cool off in our spare time. But what is a person supposed to do when the temperatures start to rise at work, especially if you work outside or in a facility without climate-control? 

 

There isn’t a magic answer to that question and heatstroke, or heat-exhaustion are real risks for those who make their living exposed to the elements. But after almost 40 years of working in all kinds of environments from farms to jobsites to factories, in all kinds of weather, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that can help you beat the heat as well. 

Know the Signs 

Before we get to tips and tricks, it’s important you know what you’re trying to avoid. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are both heat-related illnesses and exist on the same spectrum of symptoms. However, heat exhaustion can be treated with basic first aid while heatstroke requires immediate medical attention, so being aware of the difference between the two can be all that separates an uncomfortable condition from a very scary one. 

 

 

The clearest indicators to watch out for between heatstroke and heat exhaustion are the change in skin condition and cognitive function. If you or a coworker go from excessive sweating with cool, clammy skin to no sweating with hot, dry skin, that is a huge red flag. If mental confusion and slurred speech are also occurring, then you need to call 911 immediately and take emergency steps to begin cooling the affected person down. 

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure 

Knowing what to look for, and what to do if you find it, is always important. However, the goal is to avoid these situations completely whenever possible. The good news is that’s relatively simple with just a little extra planning and effort. Here’s what’s worked for me and my crews over the years. I promise, whether you work in the field or a facility, there’s something in this list that will help you too! 

 

1 Hydrate – Your body is an amazing machine, and it already has a great cooling system. You just need to keep it fully functional. Sweating may be gross but it’s how your body cools itself, and it works. If you’re starting to feel thirsty, you’re already underhydrated. The trick is to take a preventive maintenance approach. Drink lots of water and drink it on a schedule. Tell yourself one bottle before work, one during work before break, one at break time, etc. This will make sure you’re always replacing what you’re losing so your body can keep sweating. If multiple bottles are a bother, something with measurements can really help keep you on track. 

 

 

2 Clothes – It’s important to dress appropriately for the weather but this doesn’t just mean what you wear. How, and how long, you wear your clothes matters too. When working outside, wearing material that is both lightweight and light-colored can help you. Lightweight clothing helps you shed heat more easily and light-colored clothing absorbs less solar energy to create heat in the first place. But even the most perfect clothing will still leave you sweating if it’s hot enough, so bring a spare (or two). Having dry socks and shirts to change into at break times is a great heat hack. This doesn’t just keep you feeling drier and more comfortable, it allows your sweat cycle to continue more efficiently too. 

 

3 Cover up – Suns out, guns out. Right? Wrong! It may sound counter-intuitive but the more skin you cover when working in the heat the better, especially outside. Long sleeves and long pants in lightweight materials keep the sun off your skin. This helps to hold moisture in to avoid dehydration and prevents direct contact with rays, so you keep extra heat out and extra moisture in. Hats with wide brims are great add-ons to protect typically uncovered areas like your face and neck. Clothing made with UV-resistant materials add an extra layer of protection too. 

 

 

4 Cooling Towels – Cooling towels, neck wraps, and headbands are essentials for anyone working in high heat environments. Basically, they help amplify your body’s ability to cool itself by causing increased evaporation. A bonus is that they feel great on a hot day, especially if you store extras in your cooler or soak them in cold water.

 

 

5 Avoid Bad Stuff – Alcohol and caffeine are both natural diuretics. This means they will advance dehydration (dry you out faster) so drinking a cold beer or pop on a hot day is a bad idea. They might taste good and feel good but they’re doing bad things to your cooling system. Save these beverages for off-hours spent in AC and focus on water or liquids with electrolytes. Avoid sugars when possible also. 

 

6 Points of Relief – It might sound new age but applying pressure to certain points of your body can help lower blood pressure, reducing internal heat creation and causing a full body cooling effect. Apply pressure to the back of your neck, shoulders, or bottom of your feet next time you take a break, and you’ll see what I mean. 

 

7 Pair Off – The heat can sneak up on you when you’re distracted at work and sometimes it’s hardest to “see” yourself. Because of this you should always work in pairs when working in extremely hot conditions. Keep an eye on each other while working and remind each other to drink water and take breaks according to the schedule you agree to before starting your day. Make sure you have a plan in place, ahead of time, for what to do if signs of heat illness are noticed! 

More Tips & Tricks 

I hope you found value in this list. I learned most of these lessons the hard way and I don’t want you to have to do the same. If you’d like more tips & tricks to take with you to work, read our previous blog with advice on how to survive a 12-hour shift. Got tips or tricks of your own to share? We’d love to help you do that! Send them to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to share them in a future blog. Stay cool and be safe this summer!