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Tweezerman expanding due to COVID-fueled rise in DIY beauty

Tweezerman is seeking tax breaks to add 16,000

Tweezerman is seeking tax breaks to add 16,000 square feet to its facility in Port Washington.  Credit: Howard Schnapp

A rise in do-it-yourself beauty treatments because of COVID-19 has led Tweezerman International LLC to propose an $8.5 million expansion of its headquarters and warehouse in Port Washington, executives said.

The seller of tweezers, nail clippers, eyelash curlers and other personal grooming products wants to add 16,000 square feet to its 61,300-square-foot facility at 2 Tri-Harbor Court.

The project would add 11 jobs to the company’s workforce of 110. Records show employees earn between $50,000 and $150,000 per year including the value of health insurance and other benefits.

However, the expansion won’t occur without tax breaks from Nassau County, said Michael Schley, Tweezerman's chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

Without the aid, the company’s German parent will likely close the Port Washington operation and "pursue the most cost-effective options of relocation or outsourcing" work to vendors, he wrote in an application for tax incentives from the county’s Industrial Development Agency.

Business is 'exploding'

Daniel P. Deegan, Tweezerman’s real estate attorney, said the company's business "has really been exploding over the last few years" in part because of an increase in DIY beauty during the pandemic as some patrons avoid salons due to fears of the coronavirus.

"Because [Tweezerman] is controlled by an international company, [local executives] have to justify the proposed investment" in the Port Washington facility, he said at last month’s IDA meeting. "The direction from Germany is to consider other places. We’re trying to make the best case to stay here and we need IDA assistance to do so."

The IDA board voted unanimously to enter into negotiations with Tweezerman for tax breaks. The company has requested a sales-tax exemption of up to $458,000 and 20 years of property tax savings, according to its aid application.

"It’s a very impressive company and we want to keep them here," said IDA chairman Richard Kessel.

Roots in Sea Cliff

Tweezerman was founded in 1980 by Dal LaMagna of Sea Cliff with a $500 investment. In a 1996 Newsday interview, LaMagna said he got the idea for the business when he wasn’t able to find a pair of tweezers that could remove a splinter in his bottom from sunbathing on a California roof in the 1970s.

The company grew to have a factory in India and offices in Houston. In 2003, LaMagna successfully sought $4 million in taxable bonds and $357,750 in tax savings from the IDA to purchase and renovate the Tri-Harbor Court building and to hire 15 workers, according to IDA records. He had threatened to move the company to Houston.

A year later, LaMagna, a Democrat who aspired to be a congressman, sold Tweezerman to Zwilling J.A. Henckels Co. The German maker of high-class cutlery paid more than $50 million for Tweezerman, which at the time had 178 employees.

As part of the sale, Tweezerman repaid the bonds and the IDA recaptured $164,335 in tax savings granted to the company, IDA records show.

"The recapture event was not due to any wrongdoing or Tweezerman not meeting its obligations to the IDA," Kessel said last week. "There was a change in the ownership of the company. This happens frequently," he said.

Tweezerman, through its attorney, declined to comment on the earlier IDA incentive package.

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