This blog is part of a series for Women’s History Month to highlight women who are making an impact on the manufacturing industry.
CEO Cydney Severio has done it all during her years at Electro Medical Equipment Company, Inc. (EME), a client of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana. The veteran-owned medical textile manufacturer started as an EKG machine distributor in 1960. The current owners purchased EME in 1984. Cydney was hired as the billing and credit manager 33 years ago when the company had five full-time employees and a few part timers.
In 1991, the Baton Rouge General Medical Center asked EME to make a pouch to allow patients to carry telemetry monitoring devices securely as they move around. The EME owners purchased raw materials and hired a person to sew these pouches. They then tried to grow their business and offered the telemetry pouches to additional hospitals in Louisiana and Mississippi.
This quickly led to the need for more people to sew. The company asked employees if anyone had sewing machines at home – luckily, Cydney and two co-workers did. They took the die-cut pieces home in the evening and brought the finished product back to work the next day. This went on for a couple of years, until they could no longer keep up with demand.
In 1993, EME built a new facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to bring the sewing operation on-site, and it hired additional full-time employees. Over the next 30 years, more pouches were added to the product line, along with labor and delivery belts, infant caps, and ice bags. Today, EME sells these items globally, employing 46 people and running two eight-hour shifts per day. In 2017, the company built a state-of-the-art facility in Prairieville, Louisiana, after outgrowing the Baton Rouge facility.
What Cydney likes most about manufacturing is “the continuous improvements that we have made year after year. These include automation, to use ultrasonic welding instead of sewing machines. I like to see progress and growth in action with every challenge that is thrown our way. EME now knits all the belts and infant caps, and slits and laminates all the raw material used to make telemetry pouches and ice bags instead of outsourcing these processes. It has been a very rewarding experience, and I’m humbled when I think of how we started and where we are today.”
Her greatest challenge has been to find the balance between the demands of her family and running a manufacturing facility. Both jobs are very challenging and require long hours – her day starts at 4:30 a.m. and ends when she can’t go anymore. But she finds both very rewarding, and she wouldn’t change a thing.
Cydney’s advice to women interested in working in manufacturing “is to find a place in the company where your talents will be an asset to the business. Work hard, and above all, be a team player. It’s not about the individual accomplishments, it’s about the company’s success and growth. Without these, there is no future for you or them.”