On Monday, July 19, employees of Boone County Lumber in Columbia, Mo., were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime event when Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, visited their facility. Boone County Lumber president Greg Eiffert and vice president Brad Eiffert shut down the company's two locations for the day, and invited employees and their families to attend a town hall–style forum with Vice President Cheney, where approximately 350 to 400 members of the community had the chance to hear from him and ask questions.
Before the meeting, the Eifferts gave the Cheneys, along with local Congressman Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., a private tour of their new millwork facility, during which they described the remodeling of the former International Paper yard into a custom door manufacturing shop, showroom, and conference room. Cheney and his wife were curious to see first-hand how the Bush Administration's small-business tax cuts had benefited Boone County Lumber. As Brad Eiffert explained, the depreciation and expensing reforms enabled the company to purchase three delivery vehicles last year and two new forklifts this summer. The company also added six full-time employees this past year, bringing their total to 34 full-time and 12 part-time employees.
Brad also shared with the vice president the company's high burden due to the current estate tax. Under the estate tax, businesses that have paid taxes throughout their existence—on income, property, etc.—are taxed once again when the owner passes away. Because of the asset-heavy nature of the lumber and building materials industry, this can be particularly devastating when a company owner attempts to pass down a family business to the next generation. A phase-out of the estate tax was signed into law in 2001; however, it is due to expire in 2010.Brad and Greg are blessed to still have their father, company founder Howard Eiffert, involved in the company. But Boone County will pay $52,096 in life insurance premiums this year alone to protect the company's assets from potential future estate tax liabilities. Permanent repeal of the estate tax is a key component of President Bush's economic agenda, and a key issue on which NLBMDA lobbies Congress on behalf of members such as the Eifferts.
Brad Eiffert said that the Cheneys were very personable and warm and took a genuine interest in how the Bush administration's policies had impacted the company. “It was an honor to host Cheney and his wife....I was very impressed with how closely they listened; they were very interested,” he says. “I'd encourage anyone with the opportunity to do something like this to do so.”