Wenner Bread eyeing move out of state
Wenner Bread Products Inc., which employs about 600 people at plants in Ronkonkoma and Bayport, is considering a move to another state, executives said Thursday.
The maker of breads and frozen dough for supermarket bakeries and restaurants disclosed its plans in an application for tax breaks from Suffolk County for one of three local facilities.
Wenner executives declined to tell the board of directors of the county's industrial development agency where the company might be headed. But a person familiar with the company's inclinations, who requested anonymity, said it's keenly interested in New Jersey.
Jeffrey Montie, chief executive and co-owner, said Wenner has grown rapidly in the past three years and needs more space. He also said the company must reduce costs, particularly for electricity and transportation.
Wenner has found a 300,000- square-foot building out of state that would accommodate all production done in Suffolk. A lease is being negotiated, and the company is eligible for up to $30 million in tax breaks over 10 years, the executives said.
"It's a very attractive opportunity . . . We're trying to figure out what level of production would go there, if we are approved for the state incentive," Montie said. "We do desire to keep a component of the business here."
Toward that end, the IDA Thursday offered $503,197 in tax breaks over 10 years for Wenner's plant at 2001 Orville Dr. N. in Ronkonkoma.
The deal would retain 170 workers and aid in the conversion of vacant space into offices and a new loading dock. Executives said they would close two of four buildings in Bayport.
A state official confirmed that Empire State Development, New York's primary business-aid agency, has been talking to Wenner for some time. The baker has received an $800,000 grant and $1.4 million in state tax credits to support expansion projects.
Wenner also receives electricity-bill reductions through the state Power Authority, though co-owner Richard Wenner said the savings aren't sufficient.
His father founded the company in 1956 as a retail bakery in St. Albans, Queens, and then moved to West Islip in 1961. The family sold a controlling interest in 2011 to the Chicago-based private investment firm Frontenac Co.
Asked about the baker's possible move from Long Island, William Mannix, Islip Town's economic development chief, said the town had been working for more than three years "to retain the company."
Separately Thursday, the Suffolk IDA granted $791,428 in tax breaks over 20 years to Contract Pharmacal Corp. for its seventh building in Hauppauge. The drugmaker plans to buy 145 Oser Ave. for another factory, adding 100 people to its payroll of 900.
Contract attorney Garrett Gray said, "They are still looking for another building."