When Joe T. May opened Electronic Instrumentation and Technology (EIT) in 1977, there was much still to learn. On opening day he tried to start an account receivables file and when his wife, Bobby, told him he couldn’t, he asked why. She told him she didn’t know how to open the filing cabinet.
May told this story to the crowd gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate EIT’s new Leesburg headquarters on March 24. Thankfully, May said in his folksy, understated manner, EIT has evolved from that moment.
“EIT has existed for 40 years, and we fully expect it to continue as a company for many years to come and in order to do that, we must continue to evolve,” May said.
The company had been headquartered in two Sterling facilities until the recent move. The new location near the Leesburg Executive Airport fulfills a dream May and his wife have had almost from the very beginning.
“Our being here today in our own purposeful building, realizes a vision a number of us have had for many years,” May said. “Although EIT has been located in Loudoun County for the past 39 years, we wanted to be located here in Leesburg ever since Bobby and I moved here almost 35 years ago.”
EIT has been a pioneer in combining manufacturing and engineering, and though technology has changed since the company’s founding, this philosophy continues to guide its success. The company operates four facilities with a total of over 200,000 square feet — the headquarters in Leesburg, two facilities in Danville, and one in Salem, New Hampshire.
EIT offers manufacturing, manufacturing support and engineering and design services — and the genius of May. Besides running EIT, May’s history puts him in the rare category of inventor. He holds 26 patents, and his passion to discover has driven the business.
“I’ve got a picture upstairs from 1977 of William Masters and me building air sampling pumps. I can tell you, we would’ve never survived as a company if we’d been doing that for very long,” he said.
Air sampling pumps is one of his patented inventions. Another is the technology to project the yellow first down line onto the football playing field.
May, 79, also spent two decades as a Republican representing Loudoun County in the Virginia House of Delegates. His expertise in business, science and technology led to his quick rise in the leadership, earning him the respect of both Democrat and Republican colleagues. He served as chairman of the Science and Technology Committee and later as chairman of the Transportation Committee.
May, who is EIT’s chairman of the board and chief technology officer, recognized nine other EIT employees who had been with the company over 30 years. The company’s success wouldn’t be possible without their continuous involvement, he said.
“We grew up together professionally and literally, and I believe we are better for having done so,” May said. “I’m fond in saying I’m one of the most fortunate people I know because I’ve had the opportunity to work with people I like and respect and I got to do it at a job which I enjoy so much, I’d do it for nothing if I couldn’t make a living from it. That’s hard to beat.”
May said one of his proudest moments with EIT was when he was talking with a DuPont purchasing manager. DuPont had been a long time customer of EIT and the manager told May it was because whenever they asked an employee what was happening, the employee was well-informed and would tell them to the best of their knowledge.
“Hard work and competence are intrinsic in that statement,” May said. “That we were giving them our best, and I’m proud of that.”
He said he is equally proud of EIT’s opportunity to participate in public service projects like judging at regional science fairs. “I hope everyone views EIT as a good corporate citizen. We certainly try,” May said.
Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) was among the county officials in the crowd. She commended May’s influence in the technology world, saying one of her sons said he wanted to meet May. Randall told her son he could meet May when he got his grades up.
Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk, Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox and several Town Council members also attended the ribbon cutting. Burk presented May with a plaque commemorating his service to the county and celebrating EIT’s new partnership with the Town.
As for what’s next, May said EIT will keep serving customers to the best of its ability, and evolving.
“Loudoun is a great place to work, live and succeed, and succeed we have,” May said.