Bronx firm moves to Indiana, jobs lost

415 Concord Avenue will no longer house Zero International - a company specializing in making fireproof, soundproof and smokeproof doors - following a relocation of the company to Indiana.
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

Fifty-eight employees could be without jobs heading into the new year following a relocation of the long-standing Bronx-based business Zero International.

Allegion, the new owner, is moving the business to Indiana after it was based in the Bronx for 89 years.

Zero International, created in 1927 by Hungarian immigrants, specialized in fireproof, soundproof and smokeproof doors.

Elias Wexler, the former Zero International owner, sold the company to Allegion on April 1, 2015 and is upset how events have unfolded.

“I am sorry that this happened and it should not have happened,” said Wexler, a Romanian native who bought the company in the 1980s.

When Wexler sold the company to Allegion for $20 million in 2015, he seemed hopeful about the company’s prospects moving forward.

He even wrote a personal note on his LinkedIn account explaining the move.

“Allegion’s acquisition of Zero, finalized on April 1, provides the resources for Zero to grow and prosper in an increasingly competitive marketplace, while continuing to build on our core values of quality and service to our customers,” Wexler wrote.

According to Wexler, before selling the company, which was located in two adjacent buildings in the Bronx, as well as sites in Ohio and North Carolina, operations were so busy many of his employees were working second shifts.

The note also said Wexler was supposed to remain on staff as president emeritus and in a primarily advisory role for incoming Allegion personnel

However, things didn’t go according to plan, said Wexler.

The former CEO was removed from his position in the fall 2015.

Wexler said one day an Allegion representative came into his office and said he had 30 minutes to leave.

“It was bizarre,” said Wexler who to this day does not know why he was asked to leave.

Allegion filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the NYS Department of Labor on September 1.

The document stated layoffs would begin on Tuesday, December 13. They will finish on Friday, February 10, 2017.

According to Wexler, now the CEO at DeltrexUSA, he heard about the layoffs from his former employees.

“I’ve talked to about 30 to 40 percent of the people [that worked there],” he said.

The former owner said Allegion promised to keep Zero International in the Bronx four at least four more years.

In addition, said Wexler, he leased the buildings to Allegion for half the market rate so they’d have no reason to leave the Bronx.

The Bronx Times asked Allegion for a statement addressing its decision to relocate the business and the amount of consideration Allegion gave to the employees who were losing their jobs.

“After reviewing the Zero business and its operations the company concluded that consolidating to our Indianapolis operations was in the best interest of the business,” said a spokesperson for Allegion. “The main drivers in reaching the decision were: efficiency, managing and growing the Zero business, and improving the customer experience.”

They added, “We appreciate and thank the people in the Bronx who are affected by this transition for their hard work and dedication.”

Allegion is a security solutiions company that specializes in both mechanical and electronic security measures.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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