Two best friends are merging their businesses and putting them under one roof with the help of a Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency deal.
While the friends are close, their products are not: One sells optical lens cleaners; the other makes natural-ingredient granola.
Together, Koala Optics of Huntington Station and Yoleez Snacks of Bay Shore plan to purchase and outfit a 33,500-square-foot manufacturing space at 10 Commerce Dr. in Hauppauge. The firms plan to spend nearly $8 million on the move and expansion.
The companies are committing to creating 23 jobs within the first two years of the project. They currently have a staff of eight workers combined.
Both companies said they have seen increased demand for their products, which sell on Amazon.
"Because of our rapid growth, Koala needs a larger home," Kevin Nuss, president of Koala Optics, said last week during a Suffolk IDA virtual meeting. Nuss already had an ownership interest in Yoleez, which was founded by his best friend Bryant Girolamo.
"Bryant and I have been best friends since junior high," Nuss said. "About a year ago is when I really started working with Bryant on his business."
The IDA approved the relocation and expansion project for a 10-year property tax deal, a sales tax exemption of up to $38,382 on the purchase of equipment and renovation costs, and a mortgage recording tax benefit of $19,913.
The 10-year deal reduces taxes at the site by 50% its first year and imposes annual increases of 5% for the remainder of the deal.
"These are two strong local companies who got their start on Long Island and we want to ensure that the future of their companies remain on Long Island," Anthony Catapano, executive director of the IDA, said in a statement.
Both companies were started about five years ago, said Nuss, who launched Koala with his father as a reseller of other companies' optical cleaning products. Over the last two years, the company has pivoted to manufacturing its own brand of natural-ingredient cleaners.
Nuss said while the products Koala and Yoleez make are different, they both appeal to health-conscious consumers who are looking for environmentally safe products.
"It’s the same type of consumer using our household cleaner products that would be buying our granola," Nuss said.
The new manufacturing operations are expected to be operational next year, he said.