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Long IslandNassau

Welcome Wagon to close Plainview office

Welcome Wagon International is vacating its Plainview headquarters sometime before March, a state agency said.

The New York State Labor Department issued a "plant closing" notice for the homeowner marketing company, listing Welcome Wagon's workforce at 25 employees and giving a Feb. 28 closing date.

A private investor bought the company in June for $2 million from Move.com.

The new owner, Craig Swill of Boca Raton, Fla., is also owner of the community newspaper publisher South Florida Media Group.

Swill and company officials in Plainview did not respond to requests for comment.

David G. Hunt of Syosset, the real estate broker handling the building lease, said his conversations with Welcome Wagon officials indicated the company is not shutting down, just moving.

"To the best of my knowledge, Welcome Wagon is surviving. The impression I have is that they are proud of the name, which goes back to 1928," said Hunt, president of Hunt Corporate Services Inc. The 48,148-square-foot space at 245 Newtown Rd. is available for March occupancy, he said.

Welcome Wagon's Web site says it is "a state-of-the-art new homeowner marketing company." It was founded in the 1920s in Tennessee by Thomas Briggs, who hired community "hostesses" and sent them to new homeowners with gift baskets that included discounted goods and services from nearby businesses.

In 1962 a Long Island rival, Irv Siegel, founded Getting to Know You, which eventually dominated the market. Westbury-based Getting to Know You bought Welcome Wagon in 1998 and took the name. During the past decade it was bought by Homestore.com, which in turn was bought by Move.com.

- With Emi Endo

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