Chamber business of the year: Baxter International

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 September 2013 at 12:00 am

After buying Sigma in Medina, new owner has shown commitment to community

Photo by Tom Rivers – Some of Baxter International’s management team members in Medina include, from left: Russell Fuller, director of operations: John Sprague, controller; and Nelson Patterson, vice president.

MEDINA – In April 2012, Baxter International became the owner of Sigma International, a company started by local resident Roger Hungerford.

Many community members wondered how Baxter, a company based in Deerfield, Ill., would connect with small-town Medina. Baxter, a company with a world-wide presence, has proven itself in the past 18 months, committing to numerous community causes, employing nearly 500 people and working to grow the operations in Medina, likely leading to more job opportunities for local residents.

The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce named Baxter its “Business of the Year.” Several Chamber members nominated Baxter for the award, which will be presented Saturday during a banquet at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

Baxter manufactures Sigma Spectrum pumps, which utilize smart infusion technology in the medical field. The Medina site inside the Olde Pickle Factory on Park Avenue has produced 250,000 Sigma Spectrum pumps at hospitals and medical sites throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Baxter is working to take the technology worldwide and may make a push into Latin and Central America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Photo by Tom Rivers – Nelson Patterson, Baxter’s vice president in Medina, holds one of the Sigma Spectrum pumps manufactured in Medina. Baxter has 490 employees at the Olde Pickle Factory, plus another 60 workers on contract. The Medina site produces about 45,000 to 60,000 Sigma Spectrum pumps annually.

“They are all options,” said Nelson Patterson, the company’s vice president at Medina.

Sigma and Baxter in recent years have been producing about 45,000 to 60,000 pumps in Medina. Patterson said that number could jump if the company expands into other countries.

Baxter has about 50 employees with graduate degrees and PhDs. The manufacturing floor depends on employees determined to put tiny pieces in the exact locations in building the smart-infusion pumps, devices that reduce medication errors by delivering the specific amounts of IV medications and fluids to patients.

“We need people who are good at doing precise labor,” Patterson said. “We’ve been successful here because of the dedication of the employees. I’m immensely proud of the employees.”

The pumps are programmed with drug libraries that eliminate the need for clinicians to manually enter commonly used drugs and dosage rates.

The pumps weigh about 2.5 pounds, and measure a tenth the size of many other large volume pumps. The Sigma Spectrum features a wireless connectivity option.

Photo by Tom Rivers – A group of Baxter employees sepnt Wednesday working on projects at Hospice of Orleans in Albion. The group includes, from left: Pat Bennett, Amanda Ledger, Mary Jo Allen, Sue Verheyn and Sherry White.

Baxter employees do rigorous quality control and testing on each device, and a team of technicians is available to assist customers in the field.

Baxter first teamed as a part owner of Sigma in April 2009. At that time there were 235 employees at the site in Medina. Baxter has helped the company grow since then to a current workforce of 490 employees, plus another 60 workers on contract. The company makes hiring military veterans a priority and has 85 on staff in Medina.

Baxter has 110 high-skilled employees in engineering, marketing and with technical skills. The company sponsors some employees to pursue advanced degrees, and also offers up to $5,000 a year for other employees to complete continuing education classes at Genesee Community College.

“Baxter is very focused on developing people and helping them develop their skills,” said Patterson, who has been with the company since 2007.

Patterson has an office on the main floor in one of the many cubicles. His workspace isn’t any different from the others. When he walks the floor, he greets many workers by name. He has lunch with the employees and attends some of their softball games and other community events.

He serves on the board for the Orleans County United Way. The company matches employee contributions to the United Way. Last year the total contribution from Baxter and the company workers totaled $54,000.

On Wednesday 60 Baxter employees were given a paid day off from the company to do service projects in the community as part of United Way’s “Day of Caring.”

“This isn’t just a facility that manufacturers infusion pumps,” Patterson said. “This is a facility where people sustain families and build futures.”