Canon’s bright red corporate logo shining on the clean white façade of its new headquarters now nearing completion in Melville is surprisingly modest for a company whose impact on the local economy is expected to be enormous. It’s almost easy to miss from the Long Island Expressway.
But once the company takes up residence early next year at its new address, One Canon Park, its presence will be impossible to ignore. For one thing, the almost half-billion-dollar, 768,000 square-foot, five-story building is the largest commercial office space on LI. It will mark Canon U.S.A.’s culmination of a search it began two decades ago when this innovative maker of cameras and digital imaging equipment started to outgrow its original home on LI since opening its doors in Lake Success in 1980.
The move to Melville should bring somewhere between 1,200 and 1,400 employees, now working at three locations in Nassau and one in New Jersey, all under one roof, with another 750 or so personnel to be added by 2020. They’ll be handling business in the Americas, working with their colleagues in London and Tokyo, the home base of this international corporation, which had $45.6 billion in global sales last year and repeatedly ranks high in Fortune magazine’s list of “most admired companies” in the computer industry.
“We felt that if we moved off Long Island, we would lose a lot of our valuable employees and all their knowledge,” says Seymour Liebman, Canon U.S.A.’s executive vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel, as he led a tour of the facility for the Press. “That’s why we wanted to stay.”
He said the company had gotten offers from New Jersey and Connecticut officials who came bearing a host of tantalizing tax incentives. In the end, Liebman credits local and New York State leaders with coming through.
“Everybody really bent over backwards to make sure that we stayed on Long Island,” he says.
The Suffolk Industrial Development Agency reportedly gave Canon U.S.A. at least $31 million in benefits, with $18 million dollars in sales tax exemptions and some $13 million in property tax abatements that adjust over a 10-year period. In 2013, Canon will pay about $362,000 in property taxes; then $600,000 in 2014; and $850,000 in 2015, according to Anthony Manetta, chairman of the Suffolk IDA.
A study done by the Long Island Association a few years ago calculated that the county could receive many times more than the amount of its tax package when all the new salaries, spending and construction costs are added up.
Certainly, Suffolk’s revenue from Canon’s new HQ will be much more than the 52-acre site ever yielded when it was just a pumpkin field.
With Turner Construction doing the heavy lifting, Canon broke ground in May 2010 and put the last girder in place a year later, capped by a “steel-topping ceremony,” in May 2011. The five-story gleaming white building is flanked by two three-story garages on a landscape that will have two reflecting ponds in front and a mile-long walk through the woods in back.
For its new headquarters, Canon is aiming high and thinking green. Don MacAvoy, the senior manager for building operations at Canon U.S.A., said they hope to meet the rigorous requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system to earn its gold certification. That means installing state-of-the-art heating and ventilation equipment, composting cafeteria waste as well as recycling paper, plastic and glass, and using native plants on the site that won’t require a lot of watering. On the office floors the cubicle partitions are low enough so natural light “can be harvested,” the executives say, which reduces reliance on electric lighting.
Constructing the parking garages saved about 8 acres of open space compared to the area taken up by normal parking lots.
As one would expect from a company that specializes in image-making, Canon also thought about its outward appearance.
“We’re going to plant trees all along the outside of the garage so you won’t see the garage from the Expressway—you’ll see the trees,” explains Liebman, adding its location was for the employees’ convenience so they can practically park near their floor and go right inside. The garage will also have chargers for electric cars.
In the event of an emergency, like another superstorm, Canon U.S.A. can operate its own generators for four straight days on full power, according to MacAvoy.
Bad weather wasn’t on Liebman’s mind as he proudly showed off the company’s new lobby entrance, with its 27-foot-high ceiling and a pair of tall columns, leading to a multi-media conference center that could accommodate 400 people. The new showroom, at 12,000 square feet, is more than twice the size of their old one in Lake Success.
“We just kept running out of room there,” he says, with a smile. “We can have a lot of big kick-off meetings here!”
Watching the new headquarters take shape has been an “amazing” experience for Liebman and his corporate team, he says. “We’re very proud of what we’ve done!”
And that’s just the beginning.