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Suffolk IDA OKs tax aid for Henry Schein HQ, responds to critics

Stanley M. Bergman, chairman and chief executive of

Stanley M. Bergman, chairman and chief executive of Henry Schein Inc. in Melville. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday gave final approval for 15 years of tax breaks to Henry Schein Inc., saying Long Island’s largest public company by revenue brings many benefits to the region.

The unanimous decision by the IDA board will keep Henry Schein’s two-building headquarters in Melville. It also will preserve 1,223 jobs that board members said "pay middle-class salaries and benefits."

The distributor of dental and medical supplies plans to make $15 million in improvements to 135 Duryea Rd. and 80 Baylis Rd. in return for $3.1 million in tax savings, including $2.1 million off property taxes over 15 years, or a 13% savings.

"Just because you’re a big company doesn’t mean that you don’t need assistance to stay on Long Island … Henry Schein has the means to move elsewhere," said IDA board member Joshua Slaughter, who also is political director for Local 66 of the Laborers’ union. "In its application [for tax aid], the company said 300 to 400 jobs could be lost if we didn’t take this action."

Records show Henry Schein’s HQ employees earn, on average, $131,400 per year. Pay for the largest group — 720 salaried workers but not corporate executives — is $152,000. Hourly employees, which total about 470 people, earn $65,660, on average.

Slaughter and other IDA board members were responding to criticism from three Suffolk legislators: Leslie Kennedy of Nesconset, Anthony A. Piccirillo of Holtsville and Robert Trotta of Fort Salonga.

The legislators, all Republicans, said earlier this week that Henry Schein doesn’t need tax breaks, citing its 2020 profit of $425 million on sales of $10 billion. Other businesses and homeowners would have to pay the school property taxes that Henry Schein won’t be paying under the IDA deal, they said.

Piccirillo called the tax breaks "a government handout" while Trotta said he was "pretty sure [Henry Schein] isn’t leaving the Island" if IDA help wasn't forthcoming.

IDA vice chairman Kevin Harvey responded, "This criticism comes from people in the public sector who don’t know how difficult it is to keep the private sector here on Long Island." Harvey is a retired business manager of Local 25 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

"There are counties and townships all over the country that are looking to take away from us good corporate players, like Henry Schein … We cannot afford to lose such a valuable employer," Harvey said.

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

After Thursday’s IDA vote, Henry Schein CEO Stanley M. Bergman said, "We are most pleased with the IDA’s decision and their recognition of the long-term benefits of Henry Schein recommitting to maintain our headquarters in Melville … Long Island is our headquarters, and where we plan to stay."

AT A GLANCE

HENRY SCHEIN INC.

What they do: distributor of medical supplies to dental and medical offices

CEO: Stanley M. Bergman

No. of employees: more than 19,000 in 31 countries and territories, including 1,223 at the Melville headquarters

History: started in Queens as a pharmacy in 1932, now Long Island's largest public company by revenue.

SOURCES: Henry Schein Inc., Suffolk County IDA

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