Technician Spotlight with PMG CNC Programmer Tai V.
How long have you been working in manufacturing?
I started almost 15 years ago. I worked for small companies and some of the biggest companies in the oil & gas industry. I’ve done a lot of that work, some aerospace, some marine, a little bit of everything really, but lots of oil & gas!
What drew you to the trade?
I was going to college and started a family early. With having a family, I needed to get to work and needed a good wage. I like to work with and fix things. It was a good fit for me because I enjoy math and I’m good at it, so it all came together.
Have you had any formal training?
Mostly it was all hands on, on-the-job, training. I love to learn new things. I started in tool grinding then I went to QC (Quality Control) and learned how to measure and work in precision inspection. From there, I got into machining and started with manual mills and lathes. When I proved to be a quick learner, I got into CNC machining and the rest was history. I love mill and lathe work. I really like the new, advanced, hybrid machines that are coming out. Once you understand the control, you can tell the machine to do whatever you want it to do.
What would you say to a young person considering the skilled trades?
It’s always awesome to make things. In the machining world, we’re the ones that make everything and the ones that make anything. Everything that isn’t grown is made and, if you like to learn new things, this is a great career for you because the learning never stops.
What are some career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
Safety comes before anything. You have to work safe and make sure those around you work safe. You don’t want to get hurt or see anyone else get hurt. I try hard to learn from other people’s mistakes so I don’t have the same issue. I like to learn and I do that with my skills, my knowledge, even good habits and best practices. You should take initiative, do things and make it happen, but you have to follow the rules while you do it. Rules are there for a reason. Always. I don’t break rules but I try to pay enough attention to be able to innovative within them. To be a leader, you have to lead by example and you have to stay within the rules to lead by example.
How did you first learn about PMG?
I was looking for different work when I saw an ad online. I hadn’t really thought about this kind of work (travel/project/contract) before then. That’s mostly because I was only familiar with local temp-work. Then I found PMG and I was tired of doing the same thing, in the same place, so the travel and variety of work interested me. I like learning and problem solving. I really like getting into new industries, facilities and companies. Production machining is fine but it doesn’t give me the chance to do the things, trouble-shoot and improve processes, that I really excel at. Use new tools, improve programs, train people – those are the things I’m good at. I get to do all of that on this project.
What do you like most about working for PMG?
I like that it’s always something different. It lets me get into different places industry-wise and area wise. One thing I will say I like about PMG are things like this spotlight interview and the Technician of the Quarter award. I’ve worked a lot of places where you’ll hear about it if someone thinks you did a bad job but nobody ever takes the time to say you did a good job, let alone interview you to find out more about you because you did. PMG does and I appreciate that a lot.
Before working at PMG, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
Actually, it was all similar stuff and not that interesting to me until I got to PMG. Now, I get to explore. I’d never really traveled widely before. It’s also more interesting machining then I had ever been on. It makes the work more interesting too. Being somewhere new, I get to do a bit more exploring in my off-time compared to at home. I actually got into mountain biking here because New York is a lot more uneven terrain than my part of Texas. I’ve gotten onto a lot of trails here compared to road biking back at home.
What is one thing you miss or wish you had with you while on the road with PMG?
COVID makes it really tough right now to really “balance” things (between work and family). With travel being more difficult, it’s hard to get back and forth from my project, on my off-time. Phone, text, and Facetime help though. Technology is amazing!
When you’re not working, what sort of hobbies do you like to do in your free time?
I LOVE fishing. Last December, I took a tuna trip right before I left for this project. I like the air and the water. It’s all great and relaxing. The biggest fish I ever caught was probably a 10-foot shark, but my favorite fish to catch, and to eat, is flounder. Applying attention and knowledge to the process is really similar between fishing and machining too, I think.
What is something fun you’re looking forward to in 2020?
My family. I miss my family a LOT! This has been a long project. Coronavirus has made it seem even longer, so I’m really looking forward to seeing my family. My kids, my grandma, my mom, my wife… I can’t wait to see them all in-person again.