Sutherland Group adds jobs, space in Hauppauge

The owners of Hi-Lume Corp., from left, brothers The owners of Hi-Lume Corp., from left, brothers Matthew and James Sutherland, show some of the products their companies handle during a tour on April 25, 2014. The Huntington Station group is moving to a larger building in Hauppauge with plans to grow. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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Four small businesses involved in the construction industry plan to consolidate operations in Hauppauge.

Sutherland Building Group wants to purchase and expand 175 Kennedy Dr. in the next 18 months. The $7.9-million project is expected to add 16 jobs over two years to the group's payroll of 120.

Sutherland began in 1963 as Hi-Lume Corp., a maker of suspended ceiling tile based in Huntington.

The family-owned company was later joined by three others in the mid-1980s: Metro Interior Distributors Inc., a provider of acoustical tile, insulation and other building materials; Liberty Doorworks Inc., a supplier of commercial doors; and W.J. Northridge Construction Corp., a general contractor and construction manager.

Each has operated from 20 Railroad St. in Huntington Station since 1987, though warehouses have been rented in Commack and Hauppauge in recent years to accommodate growing sales.

"We've completely outgrown our facility" in Huntington Station, said James A. Sutherland, who operates the businesses with his brother Matthew and sister Lorna. "We cannot get one more person in there, one more car in the parking lot."

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He said the 57,500-square-foot building in Hauppauge, where he plans to add another 17,500 square feet, would accommodate the building group's future growth.

He wants to expand production of acoustic ceiling tile and custom-door fabrication, and open a product showroom.

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency last week approved $460,064 in tax breaks for the project. Much of the savings -- $285,782 -- would come from a 10-year freeze of property taxes on the existing Kennedy Drive building and breaks on the planned addition.

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Grant Hendricks, vice chairman of the IDA's board of directors, said, "it was nice to see" a second-generation family business "growing in this economy."

James and Matthew Sutherland and Lorna Smith are the children of Hi-Lume founder Albert O. Sutherland. One of their companies, W.J. Northridge Construction, is named after Albert's grandfather William James Northridge, who worked on the Brooklyn Bridge as a paint contractor.

The building group had considered moving its wholesale building materials business to Pennsylvania or Connecticut, according to its application for IDA help. The application also shows the group's employees, on average, earn $70,830 per year.The building group has done work on the Long Island branches of People's United Bank, the corporate headquarters of Medical Action Industries in Brentwood, schools, stores, medical centers and not-for-profit institutions.

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