Henry Schein's 290,000-square-foot headquarters in Melville is home to 1,223...

Henry Schein's 290,000-square-foot headquarters in Melville is home to 1,223 employees. Credit: Barry Sloan

Henry Schein Inc., Long Island's largest public company by revenue, won first approval on Thursday for 15 years of tax breaks to support $15 million in improvements to its Melville headquarters.

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency granted preliminary approval for $3.1 million in tax aid, including $2.1 million off property taxes over 15 years, or a 13% savings.

The renovations to 135 Duryea Rd. and 80 Baylis Rd., which together serve as Henry Schein’s corporate office, are needed to attract and retain employees, said Jim Mullins, the company’s senior vice president of global services.

The 290,000-square-foot HQ is home to 1,223 employees who earn, on average, $131,400 per year, he said. The total workforce is more than 19,000 people around the world, according to a recent securities filing.

In return for the tax breaks, Henry Schein would retain the Melville HQ employees and make the building upgrades over five to seven years, Mullins said.

"Henry Schein is certainly recommitting to maintain our global headquarters on Long Island," he said, adding the company started in Queens as a pharmacy in 1932. "We aren’t looking to leave. … Long Island is where we are and where we plan to stay."

Henry Schein supplies health care products to dental and medical offices. It’s the last Fortune 500 company to be based in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Henry Schein reported a profit of $701 million for the year ended Dec. 28, 2019, on sales of $10 billion, the securities filing states.

Across the street from the company’s HQ is a small outpost of Arrow Electronics Inc., another Fortune 500 company that 10 years ago moved its HQ from Melville to Colorado because its CEO lives in that state.

Mullins said on Wednesday that while most Henry Schein HQ employees have been working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic there are no plans to reduce the size of the office or its importance to company operations.

"We understand that we’ll have to modernize the overall headquarters to attract and retain Team Schein members for a long period of time," he said in an interview. "We’ve had a good track record with recruiting and retaining [employees], and we want to continue that."

Keeping Henry Schein's good-paying jobs in Suffolk was paramount to the IDA board on Thursday.

Treasurer Sondra Cochran said she knows people who "were low-income and are now middle-income because they went to work for Henry Schein."

IDA executive director Anthony J. Catapano agreed, saying "Henry Schein plays an important role in our local and regional economy." The IDA board will vote on final approval of the tax breaks after a public hearing.

Henry Schein also has requested help from Empire State Development, the state's primary business-aid agency, where a spokeswoman declined to confirm the negotiations.

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