Leviton Manufacturing Co. headquarters in Melville on Thursday.

Leviton Manufacturing Co. headquarters in Melville on Thursday. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Suffolk County on Thursday offered $1.8 million in tax breaks to keep an electrical products manufacturer from moving its Melville headquarters and more than 400 employees out of state, officials said.

The county’s Industrial Development Agency gave preliminary approval to the eight-year tax deal for Leviton Manufacturing Co. in return for the firm’s pledge to continue renting its corporate office for the period.

Without the tax breaks, Caroline Kispert, Leviton’s senior director of risk management and real estate, said the company could terminate the lease on 201 North Service Rd. and shift jobs to other states and countries.

“We want to remain here … but we do have other options” in terms of where the 156,000-square-foot headquarters could be located, she told the IDA's board of directors.

“If [IDA assistance] didn’t work out, we would ultimately just shrink our footprint here — limit it to very high-level employees — and move the other operations, the other departments to the actual manufacturing operations” elsewhere in the United States and Mexico, Kispert said, responding to a question from IDA board member Joshua Slaughter.

Leviton, in its application for tax breaks, stated it has considered reducing the size of the Melville headquarters by moving work to lower-cost areas where the company already has factories, warehouses and offices, including in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Mexico.

Leviton, founded in 1906 in Manhattan’s Bowery neighborhood, makes light switches, electrical outlets, dimmers, LED lighting, copper and fiber cabling systems and other electrical products. It has 6,500 employees at more than 60 locations around the world.

In Melville, Leviton employs 414 people who earn, on average, $133,240 per year, according to the IDA application. They work in product testing, research and development, marketing, human resources, finance, supply chain and top management.

On Thursday, IDA officials, citing the average employee salary, said they didn’t want a single Leviton job to leave Suffolk.

Brian Beedenbender, an IDA board member and business executive, asked what it would take to get Leviton to commit to remaining in Melville for decades.

Kispert responded, “We have the option for a longer [building lease]. It’s really up to the family.”

Leviton was started by Isidor Leviton, a Russian immigrant, who opened a tinsmithing business to produce mantle tips used in gas lighting and then switched to a pull-chain lamp holder with the rise of the light bulb. The firm is now owned by his descendants: Adrienne Hendler, Elizabeth Kriegman and Patricia Sokolow.

Under the terms of the tax-incentive package approved on Thursday, Leviton would save $1.6 million on property taxes over the next eight years, or a 28% reduction, plus up to $143,950 off the sales taxes on materials and equipment purchased for a $2 million renovation project.

In 2009, Leviton moved to Melville from Little Neck, Queens, with a sales-tax exemption of up to $1.2 million from the IDA for $17 million in equipment and furnishings. At the time, the company promised to have 461 employees within two years, agency records show.

Leviton’s relocation was supported by then-Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who also helped convince Canon U.S.A. Inc. in 2007 to leave Lake Success and construct its Americas headquarters building in Melville, with about $35 million in IDA tax breaks.

In January, Canon won final approval from the IDA for an additional $7 million in tax breaks over 12 years. The manufacturer of cameras, photocopiers and imaging equipment had threatened to jettison its 696,000-square-foot office and have 1,100 employees work from home permanently.

Another nearby employer, UL Solutions LLC, formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories, plans to lay off more than 20% of its remaining workforce in Melville, starting next month. The product-safety testing giant will terminate 61 of its 289 employees, according to a regulatory filing.

Leviton works closely with UL and the latter’s decision to expand in lower-cost states should trouble Long Island’s leaders, said Daniel P. Deegan, Leviton’s real estate attorney.

Kelly Murphy, the IDA’s CEO and executive director, said competing “states are knocking on the doors of businesses in Suffolk County on a regular basis to recruit them … [Granting tax breaks] is what we do to help these businesses to stay here.”

Suffolk County on Thursday offered $1.8 million in tax breaks to keep an electrical products manufacturer from moving its Melville headquarters and more than 400 employees out of state, officials said.

The county’s Industrial Development Agency gave preliminary approval to the eight-year tax deal for Leviton Manufacturing Co. in return for the firm’s pledge to continue renting its corporate office for the period.

Without the tax breaks, Caroline Kispert, Leviton’s senior director of risk management and real estate, said the company could terminate the lease on 201 North Service Rd. and shift jobs to other states and countries.

“We want to remain here … but we do have other options” in terms of where the 156,000-square-foot headquarters could be located, she told the IDA's board of directors.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Leviton Manufacturing Co. has won preliminary approval for $1.8 million in tax breaks to keep its headquarters in Melville.
  • The maker of electrical outlets, light switches and dimmers, copper and fiber cabling systems and other electronic products, has considered shifting jobs from Long Island to other states and Mexico to save money.
  • The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, citing the $133,240 average annual salary of Leviton employees, said it would work to keep the company in the county.

“If [IDA assistance] didn’t work out, we would ultimately just shrink our footprint here — limit it to very high-level employees — and move the other operations, the other departments to the actual manufacturing operations” elsewhere in the United States and Mexico, Kispert said, responding to a question from IDA board member Joshua Slaughter.

Leviton, in its application for tax breaks, stated it has considered reducing the size of the Melville headquarters by moving work to lower-cost areas where the company already has factories, warehouses and offices, including in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Mexico.

Leviton, founded in 1906 in Manhattan’s Bowery neighborhood, makes light switches, electrical outlets, dimmers, LED lighting, copper and fiber cabling systems and other electrical products. It has 6,500 employees at more than 60 locations around the world.

“We want to remain here … but we do have...

“We want to remain here … but we do have other options,” Caroline Kispert, left, of Leviton Manufacturing Co. in Melville, told the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday. Kispert and Daniel P. Deegan, the company’s real estate attorney, spoke at the IDA meeting. Credit: Newsday/James T. Madore

In Melville, Leviton employs 414 people who earn, on average, $133,240 per year, according to the IDA application. They work in product testing, research and development, marketing, human resources, finance, supply chain and top management.

On Thursday, IDA officials, citing the average employee salary, said they didn’t want a single Leviton job to leave Suffolk.

Brian Beedenbender, an IDA board member and business executive, asked what it would take to get Leviton to commit to remaining in Melville for decades.

Kispert responded, “We have the option for a longer [building lease]. It’s really up to the family.”

Leviton was started by Isidor Leviton, a Russian immigrant, who opened a tinsmithing business to produce mantle tips used in gas lighting and then switched to a pull-chain lamp holder with the rise of the light bulb. The firm is now owned by his descendants: Adrienne Hendler, Elizabeth Kriegman and Patricia Sokolow.

Under the terms of the tax-incentive package approved on Thursday, Leviton would save $1.6 million on property taxes over the next eight years, or a 28% reduction, plus up to $143,950 off the sales taxes on materials and equipment purchased for a $2 million renovation project.

In 2009, Leviton moved to Melville from Little Neck, Queens, with a sales-tax exemption of up to $1.2 million from the IDA for $17 million in equipment and furnishings. At the time, the company promised to have 461 employees within two years, agency records show.

Leviton’s relocation was supported by then-Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who also helped convince Canon U.S.A. Inc. in 2007 to leave Lake Success and construct its Americas headquarters building in Melville, with about $35 million in IDA tax breaks.

In January, Canon won final approval from the IDA for an additional $7 million in tax breaks over 12 years. The manufacturer of cameras, photocopiers and imaging equipment had threatened to jettison its 696,000-square-foot office and have 1,100 employees work from home permanently.

Another nearby employer, UL Solutions LLC, formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories, plans to lay off more than 20% of its remaining workforce in Melville, starting next month. The product-safety testing giant will terminate 61 of its 289 employees, according to a regulatory filing.

Leviton works closely with UL and the latter’s decision to expand in lower-cost states should trouble Long Island’s leaders, said Daniel P. Deegan, Leviton’s real estate attorney.

Kelly Murphy, the IDA’s CEO and executive director, said competing “states are knocking on the doors of businesses in Suffolk County on a regular basis to recruit them … [Granting tax breaks] is what we do to help these businesses to stay here.”

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