Lumber firm set to host Cheney visit

Sunday, July 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:48 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

The story line couldn’t be any better for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

A thriving family-owned small business in central Missouri. Politically active co-owners grateful for the business-friendly policies of the current administration. A founder who has given generously through the years to Republican candidates.

When Vice President Dick Cheney visits Columbia’s Boone County Millwork on Monday, he’ll be able to put a face to his administration’s economic policies. Brad and Greg Eiffert, co-owners of Boone County Lumber, will welcome Cheney with open arms.

“We just feel very flattered to host his visit,” Brad Eiffert said.

Howard Eiffert, Brad and Greg’s father, founded Boone County Lumber in 1965. He transferred management to his sons in 1998. Today the company employs 46 people. The Eifferts opened Boone County Millwork, a division of the lumber company, in January 2000. The facility has a 4,000-square-foot showroom and a 39,500-square-foot warehouse where Cheney will speak.

Brad Eiffert said he was first approached about the visit on July 6 by the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business advocacy group. Eiffert is a long-time member of the group and sits on the board of directors.

“We were asked a number of questions about economic issues,” Eiffert said. “We were asked if the administration’s economic policies have been beneficial, and they certainly have.”

Eiffert cited several tax policies that have resulted in savings for his business, including a measure that allows him to claim greater deductions for business expenses. “It’s those kinds of things that have helped generate stimulus in our economy,” Eiffert said.

Bush and Cheney oppose the estate tax, a position the Eifferts greatly appreciate. The tax — dubbed the “death tax” by opponents — is levied on estates passed down upon death, including small businesses. Eiffert said the tax is an unfair obstacle to continuing family ownership of his business.

“The president and vice president are friends of the effort; they feel the same way about it,” Eiffert said.

Boone County Lumber has received several accolades over the years. In March, it was named Small Business of the Year by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. In 2001, the company received the Excellence in Human Resources Award from the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.

Brad Eiffert has been a delegate twice at the federation’s National Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. He was also part of a 30-member panel that participated in President Bush’s 2002 economic forum in Waco, Texas. Cheney attended the forum.

Eiffert is a veteran of the Gulf War, and he remembers Cheney’s role as defense secretary under the first President Bush. “The vice president has given many years of service to his country,” Eiffert said.

Howard Eiffert has been a generous patron of Republican candidates, particularly 9th District U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R. According to information filed with the Federal Election Commission, Eiffert has contributed about $16,000 to campaigns since 1994, more than two-thirds of which went to Republicans. About half of Howard Eiffert’s total contributions have gone to Hulshof. “We appreciate Kenny a lot,” Brad Eiffert said.

Spokesman Scott Baker said Hulshof will attend Cheney’s speech Monday.

The construction industry traditionally leans Republican. According to FEC data, political action committees representing the construction industry have contributed almost $7 million to federal candidates this election cycle. Three-quarters of that amount has gone to Republicans.

The National Federation of Independent Business has contributed nearly half a million dollars to federal candidates — 99 percent to Republicans.

“The NFIB is a member-driven organization,” Brad Eiffert said. “It’s a nonpartisan organization, but the ideology of Republicans is often aligned with the values of the members.”

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