October 13, 2013 12:34AM
By Dan Brechlin
MERIDEN — An electronics recycling firm will maintain its lease in a large industrial building on South Broad Street, but the company will be significantly downsizing in the coming weeks.
We Recycle!, based out of New York, will be cutting staff, but remain in the Silver City for now. The company has leased significant space over the last 10 years at 500 S. Broad St., the former headquarters of the International Silver Co.
The commercial recycling firm was not one of five electronics recycling contractors to win contracts from the state recently, said Alan Ratner, president of Hugo Neu Recycling, which owns We Recycle!. Because the state contract made up a large portion of the company’s business, it will be forced to downsize, Ratner said.
“We had quite a large business up there,” Ratner said by phone from his New York office Wednesday. “About four to five months ago we were not chosen to work in the Connecticut legislative scheme. When we lost that, we spent the last three or four months looking for replacement business, but have been unsuccessful in finding the same level of business to keep the operation going.”
Ratner described the We Recycle! Meriden operation as “winding down.” The company will continue to keep a “core group” of people there, estimating it will continue to lease out about 40,000 square-feet of space.
“Any recycling is competitive these days,” Ratner said. “It’s unfortunate...We are hopeful we can get the business back.”
Ratner had also recently spoken with the city’s Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. Burdelski said it was unfortunate We Recycle! will be downsizing, but was pleased to hear it will remain in the city for the time being.
“They have 15 to 18 staff members right now, so they will be going down to three to five,” Burdelski said. “They will be looking in the next one to three months to find replacement business...They are going to keep the lease and stay in Meriden. We agreed to meet and see if we can help.”
In 2009, We Recycle! filed for bankruptcy and was bought by Hugo Neu Corp., though it maintained its name under new ownership. Hugo Neu is a New York-based firm that manages, builds and invests in recycling, real estate, water transportation and clean technology businesses
“We have grown tremendously over the past several years, but the unprecedented downturn in the economy and the subsequent credit crunch created liquidity problems and made it impossible for us to raise capital needed to fund our continuing expansion,” Mick Schum, then-president of We Recycle! said in 2009.
The 400,000 square-foot building at 500 S. Broad St., also known as the Meriden Business Park, has had some turnover in recent years. Last year, Fosdick Fulfillment Corp. moved most of its operation out of the site in Meriden, which straddles the Wallingford line, and into a Berlin location. In 2011, Response Insurance closed its headquarters in the Meriden Business Park with about 70 employees laid off. The site had also been home to Middlesex Community College before its move to the downtown campus.
Master’s Manna, a faith-based non-profit that offers food, clothing and other services, has announced plans to move into 30,000 square-feet of space in the Meriden Business Park after receiving Zoning Board of Appeals approval last week. Attorney Dennis Ceneviva noted at the ZBA meeting that it has been a struggle to attract businesses to the development since INSILCO left in the 1980s.
A listing on real estate broker Colliers, Down & Condon website lists 300,000 square-feet of available space, including 60,000 square-feet of office space.