A local manufacturer of lights used in the interiors of corporate and private jets is planning a $2.2 million expansion in Hauppauge.
Aircraft Lighting International Inc. hopes to purchase and renovate an 18,000-square-foot building at 195 Engineers Rd. The move would represent a near tripling of the space that Aircraft Lighting, also known as ALI, now rents in West Babylon.
The business, founded in 1998 by Nicholas Michelinakis, produces LED and fluorescent lights that replace original equipment when lights burn out or break.
ALI recently secured up to $400,000 in tax breaks over the next 10 years from New York State and Suffolk County.
In return, the company has promised to add 20 workers; its sole full-time employee has been Michelinakis, of Mount Sinai, who is paid $16,575 per year.
Records show the new hires will earn, on average, $80,000 per year, excluding benefits.
“In order for us to meet market demands, we need more space and more permanent employees,” said Shervin Rezaie, ALI’s part-time business development executive and Michelinakis’ nephew.
Rezaie said the company wants to change the status of its workforce from independent contractors to full-time employees. “We need employees year-round in order to provide stability to them and to ensure the quality of our products,” he told the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency last week.
The IDA’s board of directors agreed unanimously to offer ALI tax breaks totaling $160,000, including $129,000 off property tax bills, or a 27.5 percent reduction, over 10 years. ALI also will receive up to $240,000 in state tax credits over 10 years to support its hiring plans.
“This company has a good strategy, a good plan, and it’s growing,” said Anthony J. Catapano, the IDA’s executive director.
ALI assembles lights for about 10 jets per week and has seen its sales double every year for the last four years, according to Rezaie.
ALI’s rivals include B/E Lighting & Integrated Systems, which employs more than 200 people at its factory and research center in Bohemia.
Rezaie said ALI hopes to expand into lighting for plane cockpits, landing gear and signals. It also does some work for the U.S. military, and he said, “We’re trying to get more of that work.”