PMG Employee Spotlight – PMG Inc. | Manufacturing Services

PMG Employee Spotlight with Sonya T.

Sonya is in her 6th year with PMG, currently working as the Accounting Manager.

About me

I grew up in South St. Paul. Things changed with my family when I was 17.  While everyone moved out of state, I stayed in Minnesota. I’ve been on my own ever since. I had my daughter when I was still young (19) and I had to grow up really fast. After that I worked a variety of odd jobs for years. I got married, then divorced, and finally decided to go back to school in my late 20s. That’s how I found my way into accounting which eventually led me here.

What are your main responsibilities in your position?

As the Accounting Manager, I directly manage and oversee the payroll and billing for our team. I’m the main point of contact for accounting questions from both internal and external sources. I also directly oversee all payables and receivables. In addition, I do a lot with end of month reporting and general clean up (of the books). I handle a lot of one-off projects that aren’t “regular” day-to-day tasks. I work alongside other departments for improving and refining current processes as well.

How did you learn about the opportunity with PMG?

I started in 2014. It was kind of a department of one at that time. They were ready to grow and couldn’t find the right person to work with our CFO. I came in as a Staff Accountant and I’ve been here ever since. Now we’re a 5-person department and it’s been really exciting and fulfilling to get to grow personally and professionally, from Staff Accountant to Senior Accountant and now Accounting Manager, while PMG and our Accounting department has grown too!

What do you like most about your job?

I’m never bored. While we have the same tasks to do each week (e.g. process payroll, billing, collections), it is never the same every week. There’s always a new twist to keep things interesting. I really like working with numbers, so I’ve never really disliked any of my accounting jobs. I like that my work in this department lets me work with pretty much every PMG department. It gives me the opportunity to learn a lot and it keeps things interesting. My role creates opportunities to accomplish things that allow me to get the kind of satisfaction that lets me really feel proud of myself every day too. I love that, knowing that I’m good at what I do! That helps me to assist other teams and coworkers to assist them with their roles as well.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

The things PMG does for their employees and the way they treat them! They take care of us. Nothing ever goes unrecognized. They give credit where credit is due. They don’t just appreciate employees, they also SHOW it. In the modern working world, that’s important. It’s awesome that PMG does that, whether it’s employee appreciation events, awards or other forms of recognition. The summer and winter company parties are pretty great too. PMG also supports us in pursuing a great work-life balance. Every employee at PMG had the opportunity to work remotely, long before COVID hit. When my personal life changed, and I chose to move to Florida and they fully supported my transition to a fully remote role. That was a great feeling! I also have the utmost respect for our senior leadership team and their support of our team. This is my forever job. I’m not going anywhere!

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

Always be open to thinking outside of the box. While we have processes and procedures in place that are proven out, and they work, that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved or that you can’t be the one to improve them. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake either. The best workers are the ones that can make a mistake AND learn from it. I’m proof of that.

What did you do before coming to PMG?

I did a lot of different things before getting into accounting. I jumped from one job to another whenever I had the opportunity to learn more or stretch myself. The most interesting job I ever had was processing film at Qualex. You put a can of film on a machine that stripped it and loaded it on a light proof reel. Then we’d take them over to the developing department. Pretty much any Kodak film dropped off at any store in the area came to us and we made the magic happen. Then it went back to the customers as memories they’d have for life. It wasn’t going to be what I did for the rest of my life but it was really interesting.

What are some hobbies you do in your free time?

I enjoy going on cruises and vacationing. I like bowling and bingo and live music. I love the beach and the water, anything that gets me sunburned really. I also like to do crossword puzzles, read, and have a nice glass of Gray Goose occasionally (laughs). Since I’ve relocated to Florida, I’ve found I really like doing new things to learn the area and meet new people. Another thing I’ve come to love since moving is Sunday Funday during football season. I’m definitely not a Buccaneers fan just because I’m in Florida now. It’s even more fun to put on my Viking gear to go somewhere to watch the game and support my team, when I’m not necessarily the most common fan there, than it was when I was still in Minnesota.

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

My very first cruise in 2018. Three friends and I went on a Caribbean cruise. We hit the Grand Cayman Islands, Mexico, and some other places. It was phenomenal! Also, it was the first time I took a full, week-long vacation since I started at PMG. And, it was the first time I’d been completely disconnected from everything since I first got a smartphone. Great moments, great memories, great fun…I loved that trip.

What celebrity/inspirational person do you admire the most?

Some of the young people in my life talked me into getting a TikTok account recently. I’ve found some people on there that are all about spreading positivity and I LOVE that! It’s something I’ve needed since the pandemic so when I go to their stuff I always smile. Some of my favorites are eddudez, JT_Laybourne, and scottdhenry.

What did you want to be when growing up?

I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’ve always loved animals and I thought that would be great. As I got older, I realized I’d have to go to as much school as doctors do. That seemed like too much work at the time. Then I took an accounting course in high school and fell in love with numbers. Eventually I ended up doing 8 years of night school anyway, while working full time, to get where I am now. Life is funny like that.

You’re happiest when…

I am in the water, or at the beach, with a drink in hand and music in the air. Alone or with friends, that is my happy place.

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

Since the COVID pandemic hit it’s really any place that supports Door Dash. I’m a wing girl. And spinach artichoke dip! But my go-to place is the local bowling alley. I’m comfortable going there by myself, even as a person new to the area, and I like that. Pretty much anywhere I go here has a table on the beach where I can watch the sun set over the Gulf. That’s what I moved to Florida for so they’re all good really.

What animal best describes you at work?

According to DeAnn (our CFO), I’m a bulldog because of the collections work I have to do for us, but I don’t know about that. I’d say a cougar and not just because of my age! I feel they’re fearless animals and they get what they go after regardless of what it takes.

What Can I Recycle?

A reader of my How It’s Made articles (find them here!) recently requested that I write an article about recycling. She, and many others she knows, find themselves wondering, “Can I recycle this? What can I recycle and what can’t I recycle?” With National Recycling Day coming up, (November 15, 2020) I thought the timing was perfect to share what is and isn’t recyclable.

Q: What Can I Recycle? What Can’t I Recycle?

A: In general, plastic, glass, metal, and paper products can be recycled. However, and this is important – there are many sub-categories of plastic, glass, metal and paper products that can’t be recycled. Additionally, what you can recycle depends upon the state you reside in. Click here to find a list of items that are accepted or unaccepted in your state. Read on for general rules of thumb, though!


There are seven different types of plastic and not all of them are recyclable. If you take a look at the bottom of your nearest plastic bottle, you’ll find a triangle of arrows. The number inside the triangle is assigned to the type of plastic (or resin) your bottle is produced from. As an example, Minnesota only accepts items that have a 1, 2, or 5 inside the triangle. With a quick Google search, you can find the resins that your state recycles.

You can find the commonly questioned items below:

What Isn’t Recyclable
  • Plastic Bags, Bubble Wrap, Plastic Wrap, Plastic Food Wrap
    • Although not recyclable in your general recycling facility, you can bring these items to an approved store drop-off location. Plug your zip code in here to find one near you!
  • Hangers
  • Toys or Beach Balls
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Six-Pack Rings
  • Personal Hygiene Containers (i.e. toothpaste tubes, antiperspirant containers)
  • Ziploc® Bags
  • Plastic Buckets

With glass, there is a general rule of thumb to follow. Only glass that stored food or beverages can be recycled. Windows, vases, light bulbs, and drinking glasses are not recyclable because of the way in which they’re made and their melting points.


You can recycle aluminum cans (soda or beer cans) and soup cans (with labels on). Aluminum foil is not recyclable. Aerosol cans can be recycled in certain communities if they don’t or haven’t contained hazardous materials or chemicals. Check with your city or state to find out if they accept aerosol cans.

Lastly, scrap metal (metal furniture, bikes, car components, metal tubing/pipe, etc.) isn’t recyclable unless you take it to a specific metal recycling facility.


Then there are paper products. It’s everywhere. Newspaper, food containers, paper towels, napkins, mail, cardboard, magazines, and so much more. When it comes to paper, follow these best practices:

What Is Recyclable
  • Soda/beer boxes, butter boxes
  • Clean cardboard
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Printer or office paper, including shredded paper
  • General mail including those with the plastic address windows, staples, or paper clips
What Isn’t Recyclable
  • Anything dirty in nature (i.e. greasy pizza boxes, to go containers, paper plates or paper towels)
    • This is only recyclable if you take it to an organics recycling facility, which is not your typical facility.
  • Egg Cartons, Paper Towel or Toilet Paper Rolls
    • The material for these has already been recycled and the fiber is too short to recycle again.
  • Coated Food Boxes/Tetra Pak Containers
    • Juice cartons, milk cartons, and frozen food cartons are coated to protect food that is raw or unwrapped. In the past, the coating would contaminate the recycling equipment. However, significant advances have been made for these materials. Check with your city or state to determine if they utilize equipment capable of recycling coated food boxes.
  • Padded Envelopes
    • Padded envelopes are are not recyclable unless made from 100% paper. You can’t recycle an envelope padded with what looks like bubble wrap or plastic unless you separate the two materials.

In next month’s article, we will take an in-depth look at what happens in a recycling facility from incoming material to final product and all the processes in between.

Before then, take a look at the links below:

See you next month!


About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim MooneyTechnical Manager & Coach 

Lunchbox Hack – Edition 5

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.


Good nutrition in your daily caloric intake is key but it won’t go far without proper hydration too! Most of us need to drink more water than we currently do. Some studies suggest that the typical adult male should consume as much as 125 ounces of fluids daily (slightly less for females). However, the old standby of drinking eight cups (8 oz.) of water each still serves most people well. Regardless, many of us still need to increase our daily water intake greatly. If you’re one of those that just can’t keep track, try using a water jug like this one from Igloo. Then you can start the day already knowing you’ll drink enough without needing to refill even once.


Bento boxes are great for separating lunch items to preserve freshness and prevent sogginess. But they can get expensive. Many people in the trades consider them too trendy or fancy for their own lunchbox too. If you’d like to reap the benefits of a bento box, without making it obvious, consider trying this life hack. All you need is a large ice cube tray, a sealed container and, voila, instant bento box!


Is your midday menu getting stale? To mix it up, try this Homemade Hot Pocket recipe for something fun that is still easy to cook and reheat. They’re simple to pre-make in bulk and, if you make them flat rather than rounded, you’ll even be able to use a toaster to reheat them instead of a microwave. That way you get a crispy crunch to go with your healthy (guilt-free) lunch!

How It’s Made – Mystery Flavor Candy

I’m sure you’re well aware of the tiny but iconic lollipops called Dum Dums. You might even have a favorite flavor, including the curious  “Mystery Flavor”. What exactly is a mystery flavor, though? I’ll answer that question in this edition of “How It’s Made”.

How is Candy Made?

First and foremost, let’s talk about the general process for making candy. The base of candy is sugar and water. The type of candy determines other required ingredients such as brown sugar, corn syrup, fats, or acids, and a variety of flavorings.

After mixing comes heating at temperatures as high as 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, hard candies are heated at higher temperatures and soft candies are heated at lower temperatures. The heated mixture then moves through molding, cooling, wrapping, and packaging machinery. This process and the equipment used to perform these tasks is similar to the process and equipment used in the production of hygiene products. Check out PMG’s How It’s Made post on hand sanitizers to learn more about the equipment.

It’s simple, right? Mix, heat, form, cool, and package a combination of sugar, water, ingredients and flavorings. But there isn’t a flavoring called ‘Mystery’. So, what is the mysterious process behind mystery-flavored candies?

Where does the “Mystery Flavor” come from?

The mystery flavor in candy is the combination of two separate flavors. To create efficiencies in production and limit downtime, candy makers made the decision to combine flavors. When a batch of a specific flavor (let’s say strawberry) is complete, rather than shutting down the equipment for a thorough cleaning and losing valuable production time, candy manufacturers simply start the next flavor batch (let’s say vanilla). What we get in the end is a small number of candies that contain the flavor of the first batch (strawberry) and the flavor of the second batch (vanilla), producing a strawberry vanilla candy.

This process produces so few strawberry vanilla candies (and the company cannot guarantee the combination of the two flavors again), that creating specific packaging for the combined flavor increases costs and decreases benefits. These mixed batch flavors become the new “Mystery Flavor” to keep costs low and production high.

This process creates endless possibilities for flavor combinations. Well, maybe not endless. Let’s use Dum Dum Suckers as an example. There are 16 standard flavors of these suckers. This makes 256 different combinations possible to form one ‘Mystery Flavor’. With that number of combinations, the next time I try the Mystery Flavor Dum Dum, I’m not sure I’ll be able to determine what two flavors came together but it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept!


About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Fall Activities

We Can Still Love the Fall Season

As we head into a new fall season, there is no question that COVID-19 will wrap its ugly grasp around some of our favorite traditions.  It’s already changed the way we celebrate big events, the way we cheer on our favorite athletes, the way our children get an education, and how we enjoy our favorite comfort foods and beverages (and so much more).

With fall just arriving though, we wanted to put a list together of some things we can still do during this amazing season without letting COVID call all the shots:

  • It’s apple picking season – get out there and pick some apples. You can certainly do this from a distance.
  • Get outside and enjoy the changing of the leaves (if it’s not too late where you live).
  • Make a giant pot of your favorite chili or soup.
  • Bake a pie: apple, pecan, or pumpkin (who knew after toilet paper and disinfectant, that pumpkin puree would be a COVID casualty).
  • Be a kid again and jump into that giant pile of leaves you just raked.
  • Decorate for all the holidays that you get to celebrate this time of year.
  • VOTE!
  • Find yourself a corny movie, grab a comfy blanket, and warm yourself up with a mug of hot chocolate or hot apple cider.

For so many of us, the past seven months have changed our perspective on things.  We’ve lost focus, let our minds wander down a path we’ve never allowed ourselves to go before, and been forced to do things we’re uncomfortable with or unfamiliar with.  It doesn’t mean we can’t still make incredible memories and hold onto traditions.  Sure, things might be a little different, but different is good, right?  Sometimes, you just have to embrace the different and make it all your own.

Happy Fall PMG Friends!


About the Author

Picture of HR Manager, Beth Bangtson

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

PMG Employee Spotlight

PMG Employee Spotlight with Brian P.

BP and Joni

Brian is in his 16th year with PMG as Director of Business Development/Trainer/Mentor/Sales Coach.

About me

I didn’t start out in sales. As a young man, I was in a band, writing music, playing keyboards, and trying to get a record deal. We had some success, however, the woman I was dating and eventually became my life partner knew I needed something else to fall back on. Because of her, I was lucky enough to get pushed a little bit in what turned out to be the right direction.

We started building our family and I started working in accounting, bookkeeping and marketing. But I wasn’t really into crunching numbers and wanted to find something more exciting. What happened next? I answered an ad to sell sandpaper over the telephone! It was a low paying job but I was fortunate to have some great mentors. They showed me how to sell, helped catapult me into some early success that cemented my career in sales and led me to training and managing as well.

What are your main responsibilities in your position?

I start my day out by going through my pipeline, looking at what stage in the sales process my prospects are.  Then, I strategize next steps to continue to move them through towards closing. I also always make time for prospecting. Next, as a trainer/coach/mentor, I make time to critique calls made by other reps. I provide feedback and input to help them hone their craft and become more successful. I really like mentoring new salespeople. Good mentors were crucial to my career success and I enjoy giving that back. It’s really gratifying to see that lightbulb go off for a new salesperson.

Brian P.

How did you learn about the opportunity with PMG?

I’ve been with PMG 15 and a half years and was the first salesperson they hired. I was in a strictly managerial role before coming to PMG and wanted to get back to selling.

When I started, PMG was a young company and that’s what they needed – a salesperson in the trenches. It didn’t hurt that the business model seemed kind of sexy too with how different it was from the competition. I was looking for a 5 to 10-year plan and I thought it didn’t sound like a bad opportunity. It turned out to be a great opportunity! I had thick skin and wasn’t afraid to start from the ground cold calling against established competition. It excited me to be part of building something. They needed someone who could stick it out through the tough times, make the calls and build value around what differentiated PMG from the competition.  We’ve grown well together.

What do you like most about your job?

I like taking a challenging prospect and being able to build enough rapport, and show enough value, to make them see our business model as a viable solution to their problems. That part is always more satisfying when it’s a prospect that was leery or cynical initially. To have them go from doubt to buy-in, and then involve the rest of their stakeholders to get them onboard, is all part of what I enjoy about my job. I get a great thrill from that still, even after all these years.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

I like how the culture has developed, especially over the last five years in particular. It’s been a continuous evolution towards more and more teamwork, cohesive leadership, and accountability throughout all divisions and teams. Leadership actually listens to the ideas of employees from any corner of the office and there is a lot of respect for all team members. There’s flexibility with our roles, tasks, and lives too when it comes to things like working remotely, etc. The benefits don’t suck either! (Laughs) From the difficult growing pains of the first ten years to seeing the way it’s all started to come together has made it all the more gratifying. That’s especially true for me, having had a hand in growing and developing sales.

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

If you have to sell day to day: My mindset has always been that every call you make should have intent and purpose. You should always be sincere about wanting to hear about any pain the prospect has so you can share a solution that can have a truly beneficial impact for them.

General to PMG: Hone in on your responsibilities and be a sponge. Take in everything you can learn from your mentor. You’re a branch in a big tree here and we need all the branches to be able to grow fruit. This is a multi-faceted industry and all our departments and resources work together to support each other. You want to be a part of that.

BP on keyboard

What are some hobbies you do in your free time?

I still love to play, make and listen to music. I play a lot of piano. I like to hike and hunt mushrooms and deer in the fall. I garden and cook what I find and grow too. I don’t mind having a nice glass of red wine to go with any of that either.

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

Colorado. Going there and seeing the Rocky Mountains, and Red Rocks Amphitheater, was one of my best trips ever. Hands down the best. Seeing that beauty up close and being able to experience great music at a great venue – amazing! I also love the beaches in Sarasota, like Lido Beach. I winter there now.

What celebrity/inspirational person do you admire the most?

I like common sense motivational speakers like Jim Rohn. I also admire one of my first mentors, Kevin Aasgaard, who was my first sales trainer at St Paul Abrasives. He really taught me about goals, how important they are and that goals MATTER. From him, I learned to keep my eye on that goal, how to develop a plan to achieve it and the discipline to actually do so. Nobody is a born salesman; you have to have someone that will put their arm around you to get you through difficult times and pick you up when you fall down. I had that in him.

Without that, who knows if I’d have made it to where I am now. I try to give that to the people I am fortunate enough to mentor now because I know how instrumental it was to my success. I want to help others get through those difficult times to achieve the mini-successes that give them the confidence to keep moving on. Kevin gave me that and I try to give it to others.

What did you want to be when growing up?

BP Band photo

I thought being an athlete would be fun because I was good at baseball and hockey, so at one point that crossed my mind. Then, at another point, I was really into acting and thought it would be really cool to become an actor. Later, I fell in love with music. I wanted to be a piano/keyboard player in a famous band, tour and record music. That was my biggest dream ever and it’s the one I came closest to actually achieving. We released a song on an album with a national label for the 10 Best Unsigned Bands in America in 1984. I would’ve loved to sit in with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for a few gigs.


You’re happiest when…

I’m content mentally and spiritually and feel that I’m being successful and on the right track as a person. When I’m taking care of my family and being kind and helpful to others, that’s when I’m happiest.

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

I like homemade perogies, soups, chilis and stews. Homemade anything is really my favorite food, but I don’t mind going to a good restaurant, like Mancini’s in St. Paul, and having a nice steak. I’ve had my 40th and 50th birthdays there already because I really enjoy that place.


Lunchbox Hack – Edition 4

PMG wants to mix up your meal planning by improving break time for the American workforce one lunchbox at a time. No matter where it happens, production is powered by people who are fueled by food. We have tips, tricks, and recipes to help you feed yourself with something that makes you feel better! If you missed last month’s lunchbox hack, read it now on our blog page.


Mornings can get hectic quickly, especially for parents now that school is back in session. It’s not uncommon for a pre-packed meal to get forgotten in the fridge once everyone is out the door. If you’d like to life-proof your lunch time, start leaving your car keys in your lunch bag at night. You’ll never make it all the way out the door without your meal again.


Put it in a jar. Whether you’re prepping soup, salad, or a variety of other things, it will always be simpler to make a large batch and then separate servings into jars. This way, you will save time in the morning and simplify transfer/transport.

  • Pro Tip: When packing your pre-jarred soup in the morning, remove the metal lid, overheat in the microwave, then add to a quality insulated thermos (such as this one from Stanley) for a meal that will be ready to eat hours later. This will save you when it comes to dishwashing too!


September is the unofficial start of soup season. Try this easy Best Ever Potato Soup recipe. Prep time will take 30 minutes or less AND it will still be delicious the next day! Remember to pack extra too because a soup isn’t just for lunch time. An extra cup at your morning or afternoon breaks can really help you power through the rest of your day.


About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

Facility Maintenance Winter Checklist

Summer is just beginning to turn to fall, but many people around the country are already starting to think about colder weather. Maintenance managers aren’t any different than the rest of us when it comes to considering the needs of their HVAC/R equipment and facilities. They don’t want to be caught unprepared when the weather is at its worst. Creating and following a winter checklist can greatly simplify maintenance of an industrial or commercial facility. Here’s a checklist that can help you prepare your facilities for the cold weather ahead.

Energy Savings

Steps that take advantage of the changing weather for savings.

  • Regular system checks, throughout the year, ensure major (and costly) overhauls or repairs are rarely needed. They also ensure that HVAC/R equipment is operating at it’s most efficient (and cost-effective) capacity regardless of the season.
  • Thermostats and/or zone controls can result in greatly reduced energy consumption (and increased savings). Production machinery in a shop will produce enough heat on its own to have much different requirements for warming than conference rooms or shared office spaces. Having the proper controls to take advantage of this will not only result in savings but a much more comfortable, and productive, workforce.
  • Drain and winterize non-essential chillers and cooling towers. They don’t need to be a focus of maintenance until preparing to bring back online for warmer weather. This allows manpower to be redirected to more seasonally essential tasks. It also decreases weather-related wear and tear on HVAC/R system equipment.

Operational Efficiency

Steps that make sure things work best when the weather is at its worst.

  • Preventative maintenance on outdoor assets and equipment is essential BEFORE cold weather hits. A plow or snowblower isn’t much good to anyone if it doesn’t start the first time it’s cold enough to snow.
  • Heat pumps and boilers need to be operating at optimum levels when they’re most needed. HVAC/R and water systems work harder during severe weather. It’s also important they work efficiently to reduce system strain and energy consumption as much as possible.
  • Test emergency generators/systems and fuel supplies regularly. A blizzard knocking out heat or a storm knocking out fire prevention can be catastrophic for a company. This makes backup systems one of the most imperative checks a facility maintenance manager can perform.

Disaster Prevention

Prepare your facility for the most extreme weather.

  • Preparing high traffic and communal use areas like entryways, parking lots, and loading docks for cold (and often ICY) weather is a necessity. They can often be slip/trip/fall hazards in even mild conditions. Simple steps like the use of deicer, gravel, safety mats, and proper signage can go a long way to reducing the frequency of worst-case scenarios occurring.
  • A burst pipe due to freezing is one of the worst things that can happen to a facility. Such an occurrence can result in both water damage (flooding) to the physical facility and equipment damage to HVAC/R and water systems. Properly insulate pipes and valves to keep water and building temperature at proper levels.
  • Snow and ice can be a great hazard for the roof of any facility. Freezing and melting can cause ice dams in gutters that result in leaks and other water damage. Meanwhile, snow load can result in structural damage or even cause roofs to collapse when improperly anticipated. Regularly clearing drainage or ventilation systems is paramount for winter weather prep due to these hazards.


These aren’t the only steps required to prepare a facility for winter, but they are some of the most important ones. If you’re swamped and need help checking some items off your building’s list, contact our Client Solutions team to see if our HVAC/R or Facility Maintenance techs can help you out. If you’re experienced preparing industrial and commercial properties for seasonal changes, send your resume to our Technical Solutions team to learn more about our projects. Either way, all of us at PMG hope all of you stay safe, productive, and warm this winter.


About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

How It’s Made – Vaccines

Thanks for joining us for another installment of PMG’s “How It’s Made”! We’re staying relevant to current times (hello again COVID-19) and covering a common question: How Are Vaccines Made?

What is a vaccine and how does it work?

At its core level, a vaccine consists of the very same virus or bacteria of the disease the vaccine is attempting to fight. For instance, the chickenpox vaccine contains the chickenpox virus. However, the vaccine contains the virus at a weakened level, just enough so that the following items occur:

  1. An antigen completely inactivates or kills the virus. This occurs in the polio and rabies vaccines.
  2. The immune system produces antibodies (essentially proteins within your immune system) that find, defuse, and deactivate the virus or bacteria. Therefore, upon receiving a vaccine, a recipient is exposed to levels of the virus or bacteria that are just enough to create immunity, but not enough to become sick. This occurs in the chicken pox, measles, and hepatitis B vaccines.

How do you make vaccines?

Vaccines start in the lab where researchers grow the virus or bacteria in large quantities. For viral vaccines, this is done in cell cultures, which are often harvested from chicken embryos. For bacterial vaccines, growth is completed in bioreactors. These are essentially large vats in which growth mediums (minerals, carbs, amino acids, and proteins) are added.

vaccine 4

In both processes, the main goal is to create an environment in which the virus or bacteria replicates itself repeatedly, producing thousands of copies of itself. In doing just this, scientists create an antigen which is ultimately a toxin and foreign substance that induces our immune systems to respond and thus create antibodies. The task of antibodies within the human body is to locate and attack substances or proteins considered foreign to our immune system.

vaccine 1

Next, scientists release the produced antigen and isolate it from the growth chamber or cell. After doing so, the antigen goes through a purification process. To purify the antigen, scientists utilize chromatography – a process of separation utilizing gas, vapor or liquid – or ultra-filtration.

After purification of the antigen, additional materials/ingredients are added to create the vaccine. These ingredients include an adjuvant (find a list of them here) which helps the immune system build up a stronger response to the virus/bacteria. Other ingredients, including stabilizers and preservatives, preserve shelf-life or allow for multi-dose applications. With the addition of these ingredients, the next step is to ensure the bacteria or virus antigen and ingredients are uniformly mixed in large vessels.

vaccine 2

Lastly, mixed ingredients from the vessel fill individual vials or syringe packages. Sterile closures and labels seal and finish the packages. Some are even freeze-dried prior to storage or shipment and are the product you see at time of vaccination.

Extra Resources

Although I’ve summarized this process quickly, the actual creation of a vaccine is long in nature and complex, lasting up to 15 or 20 years in total. Between the various stages, there are many, many studies and trials including basic laboratory research, pre-clinical studies, applications to the FDA, and multiple phases of trials with very specific regulations and rules. Find more details on the testing and regulations required in vaccine development here.

Now, after all that, check out the following links for a little less science and little more fun:


About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach




FAQs for PMG

PMG provides labor solutions to American manufacturers and we take the “solution” part of that equation seriously. We’re the folks who have to provide accurate answers for tough questions.  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. This blog attempts to share the answers to the questions we get asked the most.

What is the difference between a VTL and a VBM?

Great question! VTLs (Vertical Turret Lathes) are very similar to VBMs, (Vertical Boring Mills) but distinctly different. It’s easy to confuse one for the other due to a number of reasons.

  1. VBMs are one of the more nuanced machines on the market. Thus, the terminology is not nearly as ubiquitous as VTLs even though VBMs were present in shops much earlier.
  2. Adding to the confusion, VBMs can also perform lathe operations.

What really differentiates one from the other? Basically, a VTL is a VBM with a tool turret.

Vertical Turret Lathe (VTL) with 5 Tool Turret:


This answer naturally leads to the question – what benefits can a tool turret provide to the machining process to improve upon VBM capabilities? The turret provides a few major benefits when compared to a traditional VBM. Namely:

  • The ability to perform threading
  • Shorter setup times
  • Less frequent tool changes

These three benefits have the overall impact of providing more potential operational ability within any one setup. This decreases average machine downtime while increasing production time, resulting in a net gain in efficiency (and, therefore, profit).

Vertical Boring Mill (VBM):


More Resources

If you’re looking for more information on either machine, start by watching this video of a VTL or this one of a VBM in operation. If you have the machines and need someone to run them, contact our Client Solutions team. Lastly, if you’d like a chance to run a VTL or a VBM on a PMG project, send us your resume at


About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate