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Estee Lauder to expand production in Melville by 50%, executives say

The cosmetics giant manufactures 17 million units per month at its sprawling campus on Long Island.

Leonard A. Lauder speaks to Estee Lauder Cos.

Leonard A. Lauder speaks to Estee Lauder Cos. employees in Melville on Tuesday on the 50th anniversary of the company opening a facility in Melville. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Estee Lauder plans to increase production of skin care products and fragrances at its Melville factory by about 50 percent over the next few years, executives said this week.

The cosmetics giant manufactures 17 million units per month at its sprawling campus at the corner of Pinelawn Road and the South Service Road of the Long Island Expressway.

Among The Estee Lauder Cos.’ global network of more than 20 plants, laboratories and warehouses, Melville turns out the most skin care products and the second most fragrances, the executives said. The items are sold under the Estee Lauder, Clinique, GlamGlow, Tom Ford Beauty and Crème De La Mer brands, among others.

“My commitment to Long Island is to the people who work here. It’s as simple as that,” said Leonard A. Lauder, son of company founders Estee and Joseph Lauder, and chairman emeritus of the board of directors, in an interview Tuesday.

“My heart is here,” Lauder said after speaking at a ceremony to mark the company's 50 years in Melville. “We may move one little facility or another out … but I feel about the people who work here the same way as I feel about my wife and my family: I want to give commitment and receive commitment.”

He was responding to questions about Manhattan-based Estee Lauder’s future on Long Island after a March announcement that dozens of information technology jobs will be moving to a new office in Long Island City, Queens from Melville.

The number of affected employees is “less than 10 percent” of Estee Lauder’s local workforce, a company spokeswoman said in March. The company has about 1,700 workers in Melville, according to the Hoover’s business research database.

Lauder and Gregory F. Polcer, executive vice president of global supply chain, praised the local work ethic.

“The know-how is amazing,” said Polcer, who grew up in Huntington Station. “The people understand that we’re investing in technology. They are super productive.”

Employee Elissa Bergstrand has the longest tenure on the local payroll: 47 years, most of them in quality assurance.

“There’s really a family atmosphere here,” said Bergstrand, of Wheatley Heights, who was in the audience of about 1,500 people listening to Lauder’s speech on Tuesday. “I can remember seeing Mr. Lauder’s father, Joseph, walking on the factory floor and in the laboratory. They are concerned about employees.”

Besides manufacturing, the local operation includes finance and research and development.

Estee Lauder, begun in 1946, is a public company with stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It reported a profit of $1.2 billion for the year ended June 30 on sales of $11.8 billion.

Lauder recalled Tuesday that he did the legwork to establish the Melville campus in the 1960s. At the time, the company wanted to consolidate four sites, all in Nassau County.

Lauder said he bought what was then a sod farm in Melville because he could see Long Island’s population center was moving east.

“Most of our employees lived in New Hyde Park, but I knew as time went on we would be hiring most of the people from Suffolk County,” he said. “I wanted a place that they could get to easily. …Today tells me that I was right 50 years ago. I had future vision.”

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