July 11, 2011

Crestron Electronics, Rockleigh, NJ

Hear audio commentary from Crestron President George Feldstein

President Obama’s proposal to increase the depreciation period for business aircraft is being soundly denounced by business people across the country. One of those is George Feldstein, president of Crestron Electronics, who credits the company’s use of its Challenger 604 and Cessna Citation CJ1 business jets for its continued growth.

“This ‘fat cat’ thing doesn’t make sense,” said Feldstein. “Mr. Obama has a very simplistic concept of how business works and it shows in his solutions for the economy.”

With offices in Atlanta, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Las Vegas, Crestron executives rely on the company’s two business airplanes, often making trips that would be impossible with the commercial airlines. Feldstein said that even during the recession, the airplanes have helped create business opportunities and have been instrumental in preventing the layoff of a single employee.

“Quite often, our sales guy will go to a morning meeting in Atlanta, an afternoon meeting in Dallas, and then fly to Las Vegas for an early morning meeting the next day,” said Feldstein. “And from there fly to Chicago, or he may fly from here to our office in London, or Brussels, or our offices in Spain, France or Italy. It’s taking advantage of a business opportunity, which is what every good business does. There is no other way to gain those advantages. It takes a company airplane.”

Feldstein debunked the notion that increasing taxes on jets would decrease use of those business tools. “It’s a mistake to say we will use our airplanes less,” he said. “But what [more taxation] would do is take away the money that would otherwise be reinvested in the business. Manufacturers use profits to buy the latest CNC machinery, hire more people, build more efficient plants. So if you take away that money, you can kill the business.”

He said that those hurt worst by higher taxes on company jets would be American workers, and told of watching as his company’s Cessna Citation was being assembled in Wichita. “They were American union workers putting that plane together. They weren’t Chinese workers. So why denigrate these people, American workers actually making things in America?”