Jim Merlo is moving his company Trifinity Specialized Distribution and 61 jobs from Illinois to Kenosha, where he said his real estate taxes will be 37% lower.
“I need to get out of Illinois,” said Merlo, founder and CEO. “I’m in a triangle of taxation death here.”
Trifinity Specialized would move from its building in Waukegan, Illinois, to a 250,000-square-foot Kenosha facility it leased, with an option to eventually purchase, from Zilber Property Group. Merlo scanned the tax bill for the Waukegan building and listed 10 different governments that collect real estate taxes on it, including several school districts, a parks district and three municipalities.
“It's brutal,” he said.
Real estate taxes are among the factors that spurred Merlo to hire a broker last year and start looking for a new facility in Kenosha or Racine counties in Wisconsin.
This month, Trifinity is moving into the building it leased from Zilber at 5312 104th Ave. near Interstate 94 and Highway 158. The building is among Milwaukee developer Zilber Property Group’s recent speculative industrial developments in Kenosha County.
“Trifinity and its leadership recognizes the same potential for economic growth in southeastern Wisconsin as we do at Zilber, and we look forward to their continued success in their new facility,” said John Kersey, executive vice president of Zilber Ltd.
Trifinity is a third-party logistics company. Manufacturers will send it large truckloads of product, and Trifinity will handle the logistics of shipping them in smaller orders to stores or other customers. It also assembles and packs point-of-purchase displays for stores, and will do e-commerce shipping for manufacturers selling their products online, including through Amazon.com.
The move has brought new relationships with Wisconsin-based customers, Merlo said. Local economic development organizations such as Milwaukee 7 have introduced Trifinity to potential new customers, he said.
“These are introductions that could be worth several million dollars worth of business,” Merlo said. “I would say 80% of our projected growth is going to come from Wisconsin-based manufacturing companies.”
The initial move means 61 jobs that were in Waukegan are coming to Kenosha. Merlo said all of those current employees have agreed to keep their jobs in the new location, and some at a recent holiday party were talking about moving into Wisconsin.
Merlo said Trifinity is negotiating for a second facility in Wisconsin that could mean at least 40 more jobs by the end of this year. The company is not seeking public incentives for the move, he said.
“The space is up there, the price is right and the taxes are in line,” he said.
Thomas Boyle, senior vice president for Lee and Associates of Illinois LLC, represented Trifinity in the lease transaction. Michael Kleber, director of industrial leasing for Zilber Property Group, and Sergio Chapa and Michael Prost, senior managing directors for Newmark Knight Frank in Chicago, represented Zilber.