How It’s Made – Cheese

Today is National Cheese Lover’s Day! As a result, our How It’s Made article is about the making of cheese!

Ingredients

  1. Milk
  2. Salt
  3. Starter Culture
  4. Rennet

These four ingredients are quite magical. Through the use of chemistry and processing operations they can come together in a wide variety of combinations!

How It’s Made

  1. First and foremost, we start with fresh, quality milk stored in a refrigerated tank at the farm then shipped to a processing facility for testing, weighing, heat treating, and pasteurization.
    • For some cheeses, processors may add in more fat, cream, or protein, as well.
  2. The next ingredients added are starter cultures (good bacteria). This starts the pasteurization process. This ultimately determines the flavor and texture of the cheese. It also removes harmful bacteria found in raw milk and ferments natural sugar found in milk (lactose) into lactic acid.
    • Different types of cheeses require different types of cultures.
    • In this stage processors may also add color to the cheese (for example: orange coloring for Cheddar cheese).
  3. Next up is the rennet. This is a milk-clotting enzyme which coagulates the milk, making it more custard-like or gel-like in format than liquid.
  4. After dialing in specific times, temperatures, and humidity levels, our ingredients have now turned to curds (solids) and whey (liquids).
  5. A cutting step determines the end size of the curd.
    • The smaller the curd, the more dry the cheese.
  6. When stirred and heated, curd releases the desired amount of whey. After this, one of two things happen:
    • Curd and salt are pressed into form (like Cheddar or Colby cheese).
    • The curd is pressed into a hoop then brined (like Mozzarella or Swiss cheese).
  7. Affinage is the final step for some cheeses. Affinage requires storing the cheese in a separate room, at very specific humidity levels and temperatures, for a certain amount of time. As long as 10 years in some cases!

It sounds simple, no? But it’s not. The equipment used, the recipes followed, and the determined parameters are part of a a very careful, scientific, and detailed process.

Want to see it in person?

For a visual of this process, take a look at this How is Cheese Made Video!

Now go celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day with something cheesy!

About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. on his Day of Honor

Several years ago, I took a trip to DC to visit my sister, a US Air Force Master Sergeant (MSgt). We spent one day walking nearly 12 miles at the National Mall, hitting up all the “must see” places, including:

  • The White House (where the first Black president of the United States hopped into a helicopter and flew to Boston while we watched in awe)
  • The Washington Monument
  • The buds of the cherry blossoms as they were just starting to pop
  • A private tour of the US Capitol building with an intern from the Senators office
  • The WWII Memorial where we remembered our grandpas
  • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial where we shaded in the names of complete strangers
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The grounds of the Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • The FDR Memorial to ‘fear nothing but fear itself’
  • The Tidal Basin
  • The Thomas Jefferson Memorial

In the end, we got to watch the helicopters fly back overhead as President Obama returned from Boston that evening. It was an incredible day that still brings back so many emotions and memories. One thing that stands out to me is the simplicity and magnitude of the MLK Jr. Memorial. A giant piece of rock (30 feet high) with MLK Jr.’s image carved into it and the simple statement:

‘Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope’.
MLK Jr. Memorial

Growing up in southwestern Minnesota, I learned how Martin Luther King Jr. had changed the world. It was on the grounds outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where I was lucky enough to take some time to ponder how different the world could have been had that fateful April day in 1968 never happened.

I learned to treat others the way I wanted to be treated, to befriend (and defend) anyone who looked like they needed a friend and to never take for granted the gifts and abilities I had. As one of four kids in a dual-income, lower-middle class family, we played with all the kids in the neighborhood and befriended the children who came in and out of the women’s shelter  just behind our house. It never dawned on me that Josh was any different than me just because he had dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin while I had dark hair, dark eyes, and lighter skin. It didn’t occur to me  that Judy might have bigger struggles than me because her tall, white father had fallen in love with a petite, beautiful black woman.

I’m hopeful that I’m doing as good of a job with my children as I believe my parents did with their own. However, I know that the world around us hasn’t gotten any better. We still have so far to go in fighting for MLK Jr.’s dream.

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy (this link shares history of MLK Jr. Day), I leave you with two inspiring MLK Jr. quotes:

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

About the Author

Picture of HR Manager, Beth Bangtson

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

FAQ – What is a Supply Chain?

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. But, in that process, we end up getting asked a fair amount of questions ourselves. This blog will try its best to provide the answers to the things PMG employees get asked the most.

What is a supply chain and why is it important?

The term supply chain is fairly self-explanatory but its importance to businesses of all kinds may not be as apparent. A supply chain is the entire process of making and selling commercial goods. This includes every stage from the supply of materials and the making of the actual goods to their distribution and sale. Supply chain management, or SCM, is the management of that process by which goods and services turn from raw materials into products sold to consumers. It includes the methods of moving and storing the materials used to produce goods, storing the finished products until they sell and tracking where sold products go. This information drives future sales. SCM seeks to streamline every part of the chain and the processes involved. This maximized profits and minimizes product defects. The success of a business is linked to the efficiency of its supply chain. A business with a well-managed supply chain may significantly reduce all of the operating expenses connected to that chain, which contributes to a greater profit.

The full scope of changes to our modern American supply chain, as a result of COVID-19, are still hard to fully predict. However, there are three root movements you will likely see to some extent in most companies’ chains going forward.

1)           A move from globalization to regionalization

Logistics hubs will re-emerge at the regional level to eliminate single-source dependencies. Efforts to establish a flexible and adaptable   supply chain will cause those involved at all levels of production and distribution to source, assemble and deliver from their own backyards as much as possible.

2)           Supply chain stress tests

To assure balance sheets and cybersecurity mechanisms are prepare for system shocks, financial institutions and technology companies perform stress tests. In a post-COVID-19 world, supply chain stress tests will become a new normal as well.

3)           A human touch

Big and unexpected changes in volume make most statistical models useless. These models assess events like the pandemic as “outliers” and, therefore, discard them from the data. Although we need statistical data for people in the supply chain to be able to make decisions, most decisions should be made manually due to these outliers. Meaning, technology can provide the information but humans still are best at applying it to reality.

We sincerely hope this helped grow your understanding of supply chains and their importance to all industries. If you’re looking for more insider info on the processes involved in production, consider watching this PMG webinar Mapping Manufacturing. Interested in helping PMG provide solutions to the supply chain problems of companies across America? Send your resume to recruiter@pmservices.com to learn more about our positions and projects. Finally, if you have your own question for PMG we have an answer, and we’d love to share it, so send it to writingteam@pmservices.com and look for it in our next FAQ blog!

 

About the Author

Josh Erickson, Retool & Technical Associate

The Best and Worst Gifts Ever

We all have that one holiday memory. The one where we got exactly what we wanted. Or, maybe, it’s the one where what we gave didn’t quite meet expectations. Either way, the things we get and those we give are often remembered long after the items themselves are gone. To help wrap up 2020 we thought we’d ask members of our PMG Team about some of their best, and worst, gifts ever. Here are their responses to sprinkle a little extra Christmas cheer on your post-holiday doldrums this year. Enjoy!

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

  1. The best gift I’ve ever received or given is the same for me. In December 1996 we decided to drive down to see my parents, who were on South Padre Island for 3 months, during the winter. We loaded up the minivan and set up an VCR for our daughter, so she could watch movies during the trip. We got down there on New Year’s Eve about 9:00 pm. The whole family had a great time and that was the last time my mom was alive for Christmas or New Years. She passed away the following June. That Christmas I will always cherish and never will forget. I guess we never know when we will have our “last” Christmas, so make it the best every year! (Cindy J, LGA)
  2. The best gift that I received was a homemade stocking that my daughter made for me because I didn’t have one (my favorite part of Christmas is stocking stuffers). In the stocking were handwritten notes from my children about their favorite memories with mom. (Kim O, Recruiter)
  3. A large handmade wooden dollhouse, when I was a child, to be passed down to future generations! (Marisa B, TST Manager)
  4. Nike AirMax shoes. (Ted C, TSC)
  5. My dog Harley was the best gift I’ve ever received. He was given to me after my son passed away and he was basically a life saver. (Daniel O, Welder)
  6. My Sega Genesis from ‘Santa’. (Dave R, TSC)
  7. When I was about 6 or7 years old my parents and grandparents went in together and got me a one of a kind handmade closet/bed for my American Girl Doll Molly. It’s still at my parents’ house and, by far, the most thoughtful and unique gift I’ve ever gotten. (Vivian R, BDR)
  8. When I was 13 I asked for an Xbox every single day, for an entire year. I was THRILLED when I finally got one! (Jazmin C, TS Admin)
  9. A sapphire (my birth stone) ring I got from my parents when I was 17. I still wear it to this day over 20 years later. (Joan F, Controller)
  10. The gift of words in a card, from my parents, each year typically causes a tear or two to fall. It is always accompanied by a good sum of cash, but I appreciate their words way more. (Brandon S, CSM)
  11. In my youth it was a Dear Diary OR a Starter jacket (San Jose Sharks because the colors were my favorite). In my adult life, it was tickets to a music festival (Tomorrowland). (Kelly G, CSM)
  12. That I was going to be a daddy! (Corey M, Machine Operator)
  13. When my husband proposed to me on Christmas of 2013. Not only did he surprise me, it was the most cliché way of proposing to me. It was also in front of my whole immediate family (around 20 people) so there was an audience to share the joy with! (Laura Y, SMSPD)

What is the worst gift you’ve ever received?

  1. When I was 16 I was really into basketball. I wanted “basketball shoes” so badly, like black Nike ones. Because if you have the shoes, you can shoot better, right? I begged my parents for weeks and then, when Christmas came, I opened the box up and it was a pair of black basketball shoes! But they were from Kmart and almost 2 sizes too big for me. I ended up quitting basketball and moving on to something else. I only wore the shoes once. (Laura Y, SMSPD)
  2. Fitted/Too-tight pajamas, from my in-laws. I thought they were actually leggings. (Ted C, TSC)
  3. Anything from my Dad, specifically an L (large size) Twins T-shirt when I was in college.  I have not been an L since I was 10. (Dave R, TSC)
  4. A bag full of used (but still working) light bulbs. (Brandon S, CSM)
  5. It was always clothing that I didn’t pick out when I was a kid. (Joan F, Controller)
  6. I received a pair of mismatched slippers and a large mixing bowl from my former husband while we were married. He only bought the slippers because the sales girl was cute! At the time, I did not like the bowl, but now I wish I had it. (Kim O, Recruiter)
  7. No gift is a bad gift! (Kelly G, CSM)
  8. My grandma sent me this very shiny, silver puffy vest that looked like it belonged to a very elderly person. As much as I appreciated the thought, I returned it and got myself a pair of Birkenstocks that I wear almost every day. It all worked out in the end. (Vivian R, BDR)
  9. I feel bad even saying this, because I’m grateful for any gift, but if I HAVE to pick it’s the funny/hideous clothes my wonderful grandma gave us girl cousins growing up. Sorry Grandma! (Marisa B, TST Manager)
  10. A crystal dish I never used that is still in a box in my basement. (Daniel O, Welder)
  11. Mechanical pencils. I’ll take socks over those any day! Although, I actually really like socks though. (Jazmin C, TS Admin)

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

  1. At my old job I got each of my co-workers a little something very special to their hearts. We didn’t have a manager, no one expected it, and they all opened them up together during the work day with a glass of cheer. The gift itself wasn’t the “best” thing I ever gave, but the sentiment is definitely one of the better. Other than that, I got Jesse (my fiancé) a pretty sweet new snowboard outfit last year. Pretty superficial but it was rad! (Kelly G, CSM)
  2. I got my wife a plush bathrobe, plush slippers, and a new Turbie Twist. Simple, but she LOVED it. (Dave R, TSC)
  3. I was hiring for operator positions at a former employer and a referral came to me with someone who lived close to the facility and had just to America from Ghana. She had no experience but had the desire to work. I had hired her and then started to get to know her. A few months later, with Christmas around the corner, I found out that her kids didn’t even have winter coats and they didn’t know of more support groups to help with winter needs. I went around the office and asked for donations to buy clothes and things for her kids and was able to raise about $150. Then we took them to Target and bought groceries, winter hats, mittens, boots, clothes and games for all of them. To this day, she messages me occasionally to thank me for helping them in a time of need.  She ended up getting hired on at the facility full-time and still works there too! (Laura Y, SMSPD)
  4. I’m all about sentimental gifts, and my best friend was going to study abroad for a year in Cambodia. So, my other best friend and I went and made this DIY Gumball Machine out of a painted flowerpot and fishbowl. Then we stuffed it full of all of our memories from growing up for when she got homesick. We all grew up together and it ended up being a really special moment! (Jazmin C, TS Admin)
  5. Probably a 1 carat diamond ring given to my second wife. In retrospect, I probably should have saved my money but the marriage did last 10 years so… (Daniel O, Welder)
  6. My siblings and I bought my parents (80 and 75 years old) their first automatic garage door opener last year.  They absolutely love it and have constantly told me whenever I see them! (Joan F, Controller)
  7. A surprise, expenses paid, family trip to my dad. (Marisa B, TST Manager)
  8. The best gift I’ve given wasn’t on a holiday. My best friend is a teacher and has had a pretty rough year with trying to teach during COVID, and all that goes with that. I sent her a “happy” containing 25 of The Office stickers, her favorite pen to grade papers with, and a motivating swear word coloring book to remind her that she was awesome. (Vivian R, BDR)
  9. Last year we decided to try something new with our daughters and gifted them an entire year of experiences, instead of a bunch of toys under the tree on Christmas morning. COVID required us to make a few substitutions but we still got to try a few new things: downhill skiing (which the girls loved, while I quickly realized I’m too old to learn), a cooking subscription for one daughter and on-line photography classes for the other, on-line archery lessons, passports for future travel, a trampoline, indoor skydiving, etc. It was honestly one of the best gifts I’ve ever given and I still got to reap the benefits, so I guess you could say it’s the best gift I’ve ever received too! We have all new experiences for 2021 and we made them COVID proof (I think), so we should get to enjoy the spirit of Christmas all year long in 2021 too! (Beth B. HR Manager)
  10. Vacations to Florida. (Ted C, TSC)
  11. The best gift was a wall hanging that had all of my dad’s football cards on it (he was a Minnesota Viking), surrounding the program for the Vikings 25th anniversary team. We went on to make one for when he was on the 40th and 50th teams too. Football was just his job, he would have rather been golfing, but having the artwork and looking over his career was pretty cool. Some of his cards were really bad. The funny thing is that my brother and I did not realize we were bidding against each other on eBay to collect my dad’s cards. (Kim O, Recruiter)

What is the worst gift you’ve ever given?

  1. The year I learned to knit (age 8) I made every single person in my family a scarf and very poorly stitched their names into them. It’s so embarrassing to think about but it’s the thought that counts, right? (Vivian R, BDR)
  2. Gift cards.  I love them because they are so practical, but they’re impersonal. (Joan F, Controller)
  3. As a kid in the 80’s, I asked Santa for a ‘My Child’ doll, which was supposed to look just like me. As one of 4 girls, I was the only one of us without red hair and green eyes – so on Christmas morning, I was super excited to find my brown haired/brown eyed ‘My Child’ doll under the tree… but to my disappointment, there she was, with a full head of red hair and big green eyes. Looking back, I’m sure it was what was left on the store shelves as they did their last-minute shopping and my parents probably figured it made sense… but I definitely remember being sad she didn’t look like me. (Beth B. HR Manager)
  4. Roomba Robot Vacuum. (Ted C, TSC)
  5. Earrings to a GF at the time. She hated them. I now say ex-gf for her. (Dave R, TSC)
  6. I don’t give bad gifts. Wait, it’s the gift that I never gave! I bought Laura Y (PMG co-worker and friend) these really cool macaroon ornaments (she apparently likes macaroons) a couple of years back. I did not get the chance to see her that year so I didn’t get them to her. Now, I just pack the box up every year thinking that I can give them to her next year but I never do. Maybe this year, I will. (Kim O, Recruiter)
  7. I am guilty of regifting once. I won’t share what, but I think that’s the worst. Just because of the act in itself. (Marisa B, TST Manager

What wish list item are you still waiting on?

  1. I’d kind of like a DIY gift. I’m the only artsy person in my immediate family, so it’s not often I get something that they made or put together for me! (Jazmin C, TS Admin)
  2. A puppy. I’ve been waiting 28 years for that one. (Marisa B, TST Manager)
  3. Beyond material items, I would really like to search for my birth family. Being an adopted Korean, it would be the greatest gift in the world to know my family history and what happened during my adoption plan. (Laura Y, SMSPD)
  4. I always wanted the He-Man Slime Pit. I still to this day have never received it. (Brandon S, CSM)
  5. The one gift I’ve always wanted, and never got, is still just a winning lottery ticket! In reality, I think I’ve mostly gotten everything I’ve wanted and couldn’t be happier. (Daniel O, Welder)
  6. I have always dreamed of a trip to New York City. I’ve asked sooooo many times but my husband has been there and he just doesn’t have any desire to go back… so here I sit. One of these days, I’ll get there! (Beth B. HR Manager)
  7. I’m still waiting for a 75+ inch Smart TV. (Ted C, TSC)
  8. I wanted an original Nintendo when I was about eight. I’m almost 40 and I’m still waiting! (Joan F, Controller)
  9. Finding my birth family or knowing my adoption story. The closest that I’ve come to that was one year my children gave me the 23&Me DNA kit. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for but it was the most thoughtful gift I have received. My girls know me well. (Kim O, Recruiter)
  10. Student loan forgiveness? Seriously, I’d say maybe Ugg boots. I’ve always wanted a pair and still don’t own them. (Vivian R, BDR)

PMG Employee Spotlight

PMG Employee Spotlight with Amy G.

Amy is the President of PMG and in her 15th year with the company. She is also a card-carrying member of Santa’s Fan Club and gift wraps at an expert level. Obviously, that makes her the perfect subject for our Christmas Special edition of the PMG Employee Spotlight!

What do you like most about working for PMG?

The smart, hard-working, kind group of people I get to call my teammates. PMG was my first job out of college, and I have been here ever since. We have grown a lot over that time. We’ve done that with the input of some very talented, committed people who are able to accomplish more than they otherwise would because they are excellent at working as a team. The opportunity to work with the PMG Team day in and day out is one of the things I value most about my job.

What are your main responsibilities as President?

I wear a lot of hats! I’m responsible for working with our team to develop and execute our organization’s growth strategy and operational best practices. As a result, that means I get to work in almost every area of our organization from lead generation to sales to technical solutions to operations to project management.

What do you like most about your job?

The ability to quickly impact outcomes! Our company is small and that allows us to be nimble. If a team member recommends a process change or new best practice, that we believe will positively impact results, we can quickly develop a plan to implement and monitor progress, and roll it out.

What did you do prior to working at PMG?

Prior to PMG I was a college student. I worked as a both a server and sold pull tabs and meat raffles (for those not from Minnesota, that is a raffle for a prize of meat from a local butcher with proceeds going to a charitable cause) during college.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask if you have questions. Everyone on our team is always so welcoming and so willing to answer questions and help get a new team member up-to-speed!

What has changed about your perception of manufacturing from before working at PMG to now?

I used to think manufacturing meant manual labor. But what I’ve learned since coming to PMG is there’s so much more math, science, engineering, process and teamwork that goes into every point of manufacturing than I realized. There is true talent and skill in almost every position on a manufacturing floor!

What did you want to be when growing up?

A lawyer. A few family members pointed out at a young age that I was good at winning arguments, and it might be a good future career for me!

What advice would you give to all the girls and young women out there who are just starting to think about where their career paths may take them in the future?

When I was younger, I never thought I’d work in manufacturing.  Now I do, and I love it! Have an open mind and know that you can do whatever you want to do, no matter what it traditionally looks like. Find your passion, work hard, surround yourself with good people, and there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

What are some positives/opportunities to leading a team during the holidays?

I feel like the holidays are a time of year when I reflect more than usual on the things I am grateful for, and have an opportunity to share those thoughts with the people around me. Usually around this time of year our team gathers to visit with Santa, have a holiday potluck and gift exchange, and to get together for a holiday party. Those celebrations are great opportunities to say thank you for being an incredible team!

What are some negatives/challenges to leading a team during the holidays?

Balancing business demands with wanting to make sure people get time with their families to celebrate the holidays without work distractions. I think we try to do a pretty good job of this but, sometimes when we are very busy heading into the holidays, I know shutting work off can be difficult.

If you could give one gift to your team for the holidays, what would it be?

The item on each of their lists that is purely for their happiness! Our team worked even harder than usual in this incredibly challenging year, and persevered as a result, so I’d give them a gift that would bring them enjoyment as they take some well-deserved time off around the holidays!

If you could get one gift from your team for the holidays, what would it be?

My list is pretty short this year! A puppy is on my list, but I think my family has that one covered. Just having the opportunity to work with our team makes me incredibly happy. I’ll miss gathering for our holiday party this year due to the pandemic, so a good gift would be just having the opportunity to connect during our Zoom with Santa to wish each other a Happy Holidays!

What animal best describes you at work?

I’m going to go with a pack animal that displays solid teamwork and communication, like a wolf, because I truly believe that PMG’s best outcomes happen when we get all of the right team members together and sharing input to come up with our most successful path forward.

What are some hobbies you do in your free time?

I love to cook. My grandma always said baking bread was her “occupational therapy”. I began cooking with her at a very young age, and have loved it ever since. I think I love cooking because you can see the delicious outcome of your work, and enjoy it with your loved ones. I also love spending time outdoors with my family biking, playing on the swing set, and playing kickball.

Employee Spotlight

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

The Tahitian Island of Moorea on my honeymoon. It is beautiful, pristine and 100% paradise.

What celebrity/inspirational person do you admire the most?

This year I’ve been inspired by the healthcare workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic. Both those caring for the sick as well as supporting the families of those who are sick and cannot be with their loved ones at the hospital. My family, like so many others, have been cared for and were able to stay in touch with family members who were sick because of healthcare workers who were willing to sacrifice their health (and time with their families) even more than usual this year.

You’re happiest when…

I’m with my family.

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

I love food, so it’s hard to pick just one! There is a local place in a smaller town near us that has amazing atmosphere and food, called Main Street Farmer, that’s near the top of my list. They have a spicy turkey burger and amazing fresh cut French fries with garlic dipping sauce. I could eat about 1,000 of those fries!

What is your favorite Christmas tradition personal and professional?

Personal: Getting together with my grandma, aunts and cousins to make 500 ravioli for our family Christmas dinner.

Professional: When Santa Claus visits our office and everyone brings their families in to visit with him. I’m looking forward to the Zoom edition (due to COVID) of Santa’s visit this year!

Employee Spotlight

What is your favorite Christmas-Only Treat:

Chocolate Peanut butter Ball cookies. Also, my husband’s grandma’s recipe for eggnog with ice cream. It’s basically eggnog and with a half gallon of ice cream to stay cold. It’s delicious!

What is your best Christmas memory?

When I was 8 years old, and Santa brought the puppy I wanted more than anything for Christmas.  Before Christmas, my mom told my dad that we could not get a puppy. Luckily, he figured out that my mom would not make us return a gift from Santa!  We all ended up loving the puppy, including our mom. The puppy was our family dog for the 14 years following that Christmas!

What is your worst Christmas memory?

I don’t have one. I have been lucky enough to spend every Christmas of my life with my family and loved ones. Even in the years when we’ve been less merry because a seat at the table is newly empty, being together, sharing memories and celebrating the season was still wonderful.

The Season of Giving

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

It’s the season of giving! So, in lieu of our corporate holiday party this year, we’re spreading the holiday spirit a bit further and donating to the charity of choice for each of our corporate employees. We asked them to share their reasoning for the non-profit they selected and we had such amazing and powerful response.  I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we make such a request.

I’m overwhelmed and excited to say we donated over $7,000 to 45 different organizations, locally and internationally:

  • Food shelves
  • Homeless shelters
  • Animal rescues
  • Children in need of toys, food, clothing, and hospital care
  • People affected by Alzheimer’s, Autism, Cancer, Crohn’s & Colitis, Diabetes, Down syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Leukemia & Lymphoma, MS, and Organ, Eye, & Tissue donation
  • Soldiers and their families affected by the trauma and experiences of active duty

We donated in memory of people we lost before we had a chance to tell them the impact they had on our lives, in honor of the little 4 legged critters who healed our hearts when we didn’t realize they needed healing, and out of respect for people who have fought a harder battle than we have had to fight.

We are thankful to be able to provide hope to organizations who provide hope to the people who find themselves in need of their services. It’s a gift we can give to them, but it is such a gift to us as well. Find other ways PMG has donated here!

Our wish for you this holiday season is that you are able to find the spirit of the holiday’s through the gift of both giving and receiving.

HAPPY HOLIDAY’S from your friends at PMG!

 

About the Author

Picture of HR Manager, Beth Bangtson

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

Lunchbox Hack – Edition 7

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

This blog normally features tips, tricks, and recipes to perk up mealtime during your workday. However, this month’s Lunchbox Hack will focus on a seasonal treat straight from my family’s own kitchen, in honor of the holiday spirit (and the fact that dessert is a legitimate part of even pre-packed lunches). The good news is it’s not just for you! This tasty gift will keep on giving all season long as you share with family, friends, and co-workers alike! Without further ado, I present to you my personal all-time favorite cookie: The Chocolate Crinkle.

History

New readers may not know, but those who have read my blogs before are well aware, that I’m a lifelong native of the North Country (aka Minnesota). Not coincidentally, so is the Chocolate Crinkle! This staple of the Christmas cookie platter was invented in St. Paul during the early 20th century by Helen Fredell. Mrs. Fredell’s creation was met with so much buzz by the baking community that Betty Crocker herself begged Helen for the recipe when served them at the Fredell home. Betty then famously recounted the scene (and included the recipe, introducing it to the rest of America) in her confectionary classic Cookie Carnival. The acclaim that followed in the almost-century since is simply delicious destiny.

Recipe

The method for making Chocolate Crinkles is simple but notoriously finicky. The secret to success starts with COLD dough, which Momdish.com does a great job highlighting. However, if your baking skills are basic at best, feel free to also review this link to the  Original Betty Crocker recipe too for additional helpful hints. Then get in the kitchen and start cracking on your crinkles!

Tip

This pro-tip comes straight from Minnesota’s resident Chocolate Crinkle maven (my mom, Margaret)! Crinkles are essentially the cookie version of a brownie. As such, they are one of the few cookies that actually improves as they age. This happens because, while the outside gets crunchier with time, the inside stays gooey and moist creating a tasty texture contrast. Over time however, the powdered sugar tends to fall off. To avoid this, Mama Margaret recommends patting your dough balls repeatedly while rolling them in sugar to ensure your toppings don’t end up on the bottom of the tray.

Trick

Did I mention cold dough is critical? Because it is. Thus, the best thing you can do to make sure your cookies turn out is leave your dough in the fridge as long as possible. My mom’s rule of thumb is to go at least twice as long as whatever your particular recipe recommends. If you do this there’s a good chance your Christmas Crinkles will even make Kris Kringle himself come back for seconds!

 

About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

How It’s Made – Snow

Tis the season for snow! With that, we thought we’d make our monthly installment of the How It’s Made article about snow. There are two types: natural and man-made. We’ll outline both below.

Natural Snow

The Earth’s atmosphere is filled with water and water droplets. At times, these droplets will combine with dust, bacteria and other items floating in the air. When temperatures in the atmosphere drop to very cold levels, the water/dust/bacteria-combined droplets freeze and become tiny ice crystals. A snowflake is created when 2-200 of these ice crystals bond together. With the help of gravity snowflakes fall from the clouds to the ground, a distance of nearly 20,000 feet and a journey that lasts approximately an hour!

Man-Made Snow

When I say man-made snow, I’m talking about the snow you see at ski resorts. To ensure their success on a seasonal basis resorts must create their own snow. This snow is denser than natural snow and doesn’t melt as soon as  when packed down on the trails and hills. So, how do they make it?

Key Components
  1. Snow Guns or Fan Guns
  2. Power Connections and Power Pedestals
  3. Air Compressors
  4. Water Connections Snowmakers

Snow guns and fan guns are the large pieces of equipment that blow the manufactured snow onto the mountains. You can find these on top of poles and at ground level. Although the two types of guns perform the same task, they operate differently.

  • Fan guns require the use of electricity and power connections. As a result, an electrical distribution system is created through the use of power pedestals (electrical boxes) and power cords.
  • Snow guns do not utilize electricity. Rather, this type of gun operates through the use of compressed air. Air compressors create the power that propels the snow out of the guns.

Regardless of gun type, both types require water. Water connections consist of what is essentially a large fire hose that can withstand a high level of water pressure (PSI) in addition to many miles of water pipeline underground and hydrants at each fan gun hookup.

Finally, snowmakers! Yes – you can create a career (at least seasonally) by being a snowmaker. These workers evaluate weather conditions first and foremost. Then, based upon weather conditions, they manipulate, coordinate and control the operations of the making systems. This happens by creating the “just right” mix of water, temperature, and air. These mixes vary on each hill, as well, helping to create the various difficulty levels of each ski run.

This is a very simplified explanation of the equipment.

Snow Making System
Other Key Components
  1. Snowmaking ponds (water sources)
  2. High-powered turbine pumps (for pushing water throughout the systems)
  3. Air coolers (cooling the compressed air)
  4. Computers (for monitoring and adjusting the making process)
  5. Weather stations (sending weather and humidity to the computer)
  6. Groomers (for compacting and grooming to ideal conditions)

With all that said, I can’t say I’m signing up to be a snowmaker anytime soon but I might try to be a snowflake maker. Below are links that will bring you to templates and instructions for making paper snowflakes. Try it if you’re ever stuck inside on a snow day!

 

About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Winter Celebrations & Winter Holidays Around The World

There are a lot of winter celebrations and holiday cheer this time of the year. As a result, I thought it might be fun to share how cultures throughout the world celebrate during the winter months.

Winter Solstice
  • The shortest day of the year.
  • Falls in mid-December for those in the Northern Hemisphere and June for those in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • At this time, half of the Earth is tilted furthest from the sun at this exact moment.
    • Fun Fact: Did you know that if you stand outside at noon on winter solstice and look at your shadow, it will be the longest shadow you cast the entire year?
  • Other similar celebrations include:
    • The Yalda festival in Iran marking the day when Mithra, an angel of light, was thought to have been born.
    • China’s Dongzhi festival celebrates winter’s darkness beginning to give way to light.
    • Scandinavians gather for Juul, or Yule, a multi-day feast when ancient people would welcome the return of the sun god.
Hanukkah
  • A Jewish holiday honoring the Maccabee’s victory over King Antiochus in 165 B.C., a victory seen as a miracle of God.
  • Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights with prayer, the lighting of the menorah, food, games, sing-a-longs, and gift exchanges.
  • The dates of Hanukkah change due to the lunar cycle but typically occur in late November or early December.
Christmas
  • A Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Traditions around the world include decorating a tree with lights and ornaments, hanging mistletoe, attending church services on Christmas Eve, and waiting for Santa Clause to arrive from the North Pole in time for Christmas morning (December 25th).
    • Fun Fact: Santa’s arrival is different in many cultures: in Hawaii he arrives by boat, in Australia on water skies, and in Ghana he finds his way out of the jungle to leave gifts for children.
Kwanzaa
  • Commemorates African heritage, during which family and friends gather to exchange gifts and light a series of candles.
  • The candles symbolize the basic values of African American family life: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith
  • Kwanzaa occurs from December 26th through January 1st.
New Years Day
  • Takes place on January 1st each year
  • The count down starts the night before and often fireworks are on display as the clock strikes midnight on the first day of the new year in the Gregorian calendar.
  • Black-eyed peas, collard greens and pork are commonly served on New Years Day in the southern United States.
  • Black-eyed peas are thought to bring luck and prosperity for the new year. Greens are considered a sign of wealth for the new year. Pork is a symbol of moving forward.
Epiphany, or Three Kings Day
  • Celebrated as the day the three wise men first see Jesus, bringing him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
  • This celebration occurs in many different ways 12 days after Christmas. Examples include:
    • In Puerto Rico, children leave a box with hay under their beds at night so the kings will leave presents.
    • In France, kings’ cakes have hidden toys, jewels, or coins inside. The person who finds the trinket in their cake gets to wear a crown.
Chinese New Year
  • Considered the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays.
  • This holiday falls between January 21st and February 20th.
  • Family and friends celebrate together during this time to usher out the old year and bring forth the luck and prosperity of the new year.
  • Legend has it that thousands of years ago, a monster named Nian would attack villages at the beginning of each year. Loud noises, bright lights, and the color red scare the monster away. Today, the celebration uses fireworks, red clothes, and red decorations.
Las Posadas
  • Primarily celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of the southwestern United States, Las Posadas is a 9-day celebration.
  • During this celebration, a procession of people moves from home to home with a candle inside a paper lamp, stopping at each home to sing and pray.
  • Eventually, the procession ends but the celebration continues with more singing, delicious food, and the breaking of a piñata.
Eid-ul-Adha
  • Celebrated worldwide in honor of the willingness of the prophet Abraham to sacrifice his first-born at God’s command.
  • Celebrated near the end of the calendar year but dates vary based on the Islamic lunar calendar.
  • Families gather together in a large congregation, dressed in their finest, and sacrifice their best halal domestic animals as a symbol of Abraham’s sacrifice. Friends, neighbors, and the poor share the meat to ensure no one goes without during the holiday feast.
Diwali
  • A five-day Hindu festival and official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.
  • Diwali celebrates the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira (an Indian Sage), as well as the death of Swami Dayanand (a Hindu religious leader).
  • The holiday involves the lighting of small clay lamps to symbolize the victory of good over evil.

For visuals of these holidays, check out this video.

This list doesn’t come close to covering all of the winter holidays celebrated around the world. There are others such as Boxing Day, Omisoka, St. Lucia Day, St. Nicholas Day, Ramadan, etc. However, we hope that no matter how you celebrate this winter, you’re able to safely celebrate with the people that matter most to you and remember the traditions that keep your spirit up from year to year.

Happy Holidays from your friends at PMG.

 

About the Author

Picture of HR Manager, Beth Bangtson

Beth Bangtson, Human Resource Manager

FAQ – How Can I Change My Working Conditions?

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. With that said, all of us here end up asking a lot of questions to make sure we find the right way to solve the real problem. However, we receive a fair amount of questions ourselves and we can honestly say, this is the first time we’ve ever gotten the following question:

Dear PMG,

You talk a lot about automation and what a benefit it is to efficiency and safety. I work in a shop that is still very old school, like everything is 100% hand-made old school. EVERYTHING, even including our tools. We never have the right ones either. I don’t even know what a metric wrench is, let alone where to find it in the tool room. I also saw a webinar you did on the importance of healthy habits, like good nutrition, for those working in manufacturing but our cafeteria only serves milk, cookies, and candy canes. Worst of all, every employee works every day of the year and only gets one day off but our boss is exactly the opposite. It seems like he only works for one day a year and uses PTO for the other 364. Help! How can I start to change things here? 

Sincerely,

Teed-Off Toymaker

Thanks for the question, TT. We’re big fans of the work you and your colleagues do and we’d be happy to try and help. Our thoughts are below:

Upgrade Your Toolbox

It sounds like your toolbox could use an upgrade at the very least. We wrote a blog on the must-have tools in every technician’s toolbox. You can read it here. It might even give you some ideas for your Christmas wish list.

Practice Your Communication

Conflict is  a sign of a healthy team, believe it or not. As long as it’s constructive and handled appropriately. With this in mind, we also think your team might benefit from this webinar we did focusing on communication in a manufacturing environment. If you communicate productively, your contention should quickly turn into contentment. Improved communication could even help you address your grievances with your boss directly (and hopefully successfully).

Build Your Resume (Just In Case)

It’s important to remember that no matter how hard you try not all work environments can be improved. If this turns out to be the case for you don’t continue to be employed unhappily. Rather, we suggest you read this blog about what to avoid on your resume.  Next, polish up your CV and find someplace else to work that might make you happier.

Don’t forget!

If you’d like to try to apply your talents beyond toymaking, PMG can always use more technicians with mechanical aptitude. Feel free to send your resume to recruiter@pmgservices.com and we’d be happy to see if we have a project that might bring you more pleasure. Thanks for the question and have a happy holiday season!

Warmest Wishes,

The Writing Team at PMG

 

About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate