PMG ReTool Visits HTC

Spring is in the air and for employers and job-seekers across America that can only mean one thing – Career Fair Season!

Here at PMG, we already have a handful of booths under our belt, but a recent event at a local tech school couldn’t help but catch our attention with the unique spin one of their programs put on an old standard.

PMG ReTool attended an employer event at Hennepin Technical College in February and while the school had a traditional career fair scheduled for the afternoon, the Robotics, Mechatronics and Automation Engineering program rolled out their Reverse Career Fair in the morning. Automation instructors Brad Thorpe and Jeff Thorstad came up with this idea to help connect their students with employers. The main goal was to have students set out their semester class projects, science fair style, and individually present them to employers. This allowed those seeking to hire the ability to connect with prospective employees in a much more personal manner than a traditional employer’s table. It also provided the opportunity for employers to connect with the actual hands on classwork in a far more direct way than they typically do. However, the real benefit was how it also gave the students an opportunity to give their class work the most “real world emphasis” possible.

While PMG ReTool observed several student projects, there were a few that stood out the most. One student used their project to win a $10,000 grant from the manufacturer for best alternative use of a PLC that is already utilized in production facilities. Another student, who already has industry experience, decided to trouble-shoot a trouble-shooting module.

In addition, many used their projects to simulate systems they’d be maintaining in a production environment. For example, a student used his previous experience as an extrusion mold operator to simulate the maintenance of larger systems associated with such a facility. Some students even considered recording their presentations and including a hyperlink to the video in their resumes so they could speak to the inevitable “lack of experience” push back they would encounter during the application and interview processes.

Overall, ReTool was not only impressed with the quality of training, preparation, and projects, but with the way students and instructors used these projects to present their class time as being far more applicable to in-production experience than it is generally considered. If you are preparing to enter the manufacturing industry, or are in the position of training those who are, you may want to consider adding a Reverse Career Fair component to your next employer event to give your classwork the best chance to shine in the real world.


About the Author

Josh Erickson, ReTool Associate

Employee Spotlight

Meet See!

See is an Accounting Assistant and joined the PMG team almost seven months ago.

About Me

I was born in a small town in Thailand and was 12 months old when we moved to Wausau, WI. I grew up there and then moved to MN in 2004. I met my husband in 2004 and we married in 2009. We now have three kids – 2 boys and a girl. Interesting fact- I am the third oldest of seven kids!

What are your job responsibilities as an Accounting Assistant?

Lots of data entering, scanning and filing invoices, printing and mailing checks, generating payroll reports and putting together master payroll spreadsheet.

What do you like most about your job?

I like learning new things and gaining knowledge, especially in the accounting field. Every day, I feel like I learn something new as different situations pop up.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

Definitely the food! The people are also great and I like the flexibility PMG offers.

What did you do prior to working at PMG?

Before PMG, I worked as a loan servicing specialist in the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage department. I was there for almost three years. I did a lot of data entry, data verification and helped with checks and mailing.

What are some hobbies you like to do in your free time?

Number one thing is watching movies. I could watch movies every day. One of my favorite things to watch is Game of Thrones and I can’t wait until season eight comes out!

I also like to paint. I find it really soothing and calming.

Lastly, taking my kids out to explore Minnesota.

What’s your favorite restaurant to eat at and what’s a must order there?

Ichiddo. It’s a Japanese restaurant with amazing ramen noodles. My favorite dish is the char siu ramen noodle.

What celebrity/inspirational person do you most admire?

Susan Pha. She is the first Hmong woman in my community to hold a government position. She opened a new world for Hmong women in our community and she’s an inspiration to these women.

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

The only places I’ve been are Wisconsin, Minnesota and California. In California, I went to Fresno and I wouldn’t consider that “The best place ever.” However, I would like to travel to Hawaii some day and see the ocean, see the Hawaiian flowers and try some local food.

What did you want to be when growing up?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a singer, actress or a teacher.

You’re happiest when…?

I have my favorite foods in front of me and when I get to adventure out and see places such as gardens, waterfalls and events.

What advice would you give to recent new hires at PMG?

My advice is to be open to learning new ways to tackle different situations that might come up.  Also, prepare to have fun at PMG’s team building events and volunteering opportunities. Lastly, take advantage of PMG’s growth opportunities that will help you reach your next career milestone.


Did You Know?

How much do American manufacturers love Valentine’s Day?

Everybody knows that Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love, but did you know how much American manufacturers love the holiday? Valentine’s Day is the third biggest holiday/season for the $22 billion U.S. chocolate candy industry, behind only Easter and Christmas and surprisingly ahead of Halloween.

Overall, Valentine’s Day contributed about $19.6 billion to the national economy in 2018. Those are easy numbers for confectionery producers to fall in love with, especially considering American’s dietary choices continue to avoid the candy aisle more and more often throughout the non-holiday calendar.

Fun Numbers:

Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced primarily chocolate and cocoa products in 2014, employing 42,043 people. California led the nation with 151 of these establishments, followed by New York with 119.[1]

$16.0 billion
The estimated value of chocolate and confectionary product shipments for manufacturing establishments in 2015.[2]

The number of jewelry and silverware manufacturing establishments.[3]

Number of U.S. establishments that manufactured primarily non-chocolate confectionary products in 2014. These establishments employed 19,213 people. California led the nation in this category with 58 establishments.[4]

[1] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2014, NAICS code (31135)

[2] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 Annual Survey of Manufactures, Products and Service Codes (311351 and 311352)

[3] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2014, NAICS code (339910)

[4] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2014, NAICS code (31134)


Technician Spotlight

Darwin B., Machine Builder & Maintenance Technician

Meet Darwin B., one of PMG’s valued technicians who specializes in machine building and maintenance. Darwin has been with the company for almost four years and is currently on his fifth PMG project. Learn more about Darwin in the Q&A session below!

Q&A with Darwin B.

How long have you been working in manufacturing?

28 years.

What drew you to the trade?

I started in Dallas when my family started to grow up.  I do everything. Machine building, maintenance, millwright work, welding.

Have you had any formal training?

When I was 12 years old, I learned a lot from my father. When I was older, I went to school for pipe fitting and pipe welding.

Before working at PMG, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

I worked in a power plant.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

I like to do everything and I like challenging work. I like the variety of the work and not always doing the same thing. I like learning new things.

What is one thing you miss or wish you had with you while on the road?

I miss my Siberian husky.

How do you balance your career at PMG and family?

I FaceTime with my family.

What are some career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

  • Always continue learning
  • Be open to learning new things
  • Always learn things step-by-step; it helps reduce mistakes

When you’re not working, what sort of hobbies do you like to do in your free time?

I like talking to my family and friends and watching videos. I like keeping my mind busy.