The History of C. J. Holt & Co.
Duty Drawback was the second law passed by the first Congress of the United States in 1789, and C.J. Holt is the oldest continuously operating drawback specialist in the United States. It is a company that has spanned three centuries—nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first. Its long history parallels
that of the growth of the United States. Through civil war,
industrialization, world wars, depression and economic growth,
C.J. Holt has been and continues to be a growing company always
looking for new ways to help expand American business and industry
by applying the principles of duty drawback.
The firm of Chas. J. Holt & Son was established in 1856 in New York
City by Charles J. Holt and William H. Holt to conduct Customs
brokerage and duty drawback. A historical document dated June 5, 1861
shows that William H. Holt was given permission by the Executive
Department of the State of Virginia to cross through infantry lines during
the Civil War to transact Customs business in Winchester, Virginia.
Other historical documents of a more personal nature indicate that William
H. Holt received a notice of conscription for military duty on June 28, 1866
and was also fined $1.00 on the first Monday of September, 1866 for
non-attendance at the Parade and Inspection of the New York State Militia.
In 1886 the firm of Chas. J. Holt & Son was dissolved. The business was
continued in the individual name of Chas. J. Holt and operated as such
until August 1, 1907 when a partnership was formed between Charles J. Holt
and John W. Van Buskirk. The partnership was named C.J. Holt & Co. with
Charles J. Holt as the senior member. An R. G. Dun & Co.
(now Dun & Bradstreet Inc.) report dated January 23, 1908 indicated that
"Both members of the firm are favorably spoken of personally" and "...that
the business is (run) entirely on a commission basis..." Another R. G. Dun
report of November 28, 1908 stated "Chas. J. Holt, senior member of this firm,
is one of the oldest established Customhouse Brokers in the city and a man of
uniformly favorable personal reputation for business entrusted to his hands.
The firm of which he is the head is well regarded in the capacity in which it
acts..." Of notable interest is that on September 8, 1916 an act was passed
which placed a yearly tax on Customhouse brokers. On a historical document
dated June 28, 1918, C.J. Holt & Co. is shown to have paid the Internal
Revenue Service a yearly $10 Special Tax on Customhouse Brokers in the
State of New York.
On January 4, 1919 C.J. Holt & Co. was incorporated as C.J. Holt & Co., Inc. With the licensing of Customhouse Brokers in the late 1920's, C.J. Holt & Co., Inc. was issued corporate Custom-House Broker license #73-A. Also, on September 27, 1929 John W. Van Buskirk was issued an individual Customhouse Broker license using the same corporate number. The company remained family held for many years, being passed down to John M. Van Buskirk and eventually to John (Jay) W. Van Buskirk. John W. sold the company on October 10, 1987 to Comstock & Theakston, Inc. C.J. Holt & Co., Inc. is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Comstock & Theakston, Inc. (another drawback specialist over 100 years old) with Edwin W. Van Ek as president.
Records from the early 1900's show C.J. Holt providing drawback services
to clients such as Columbia Pictures Corp., Nestle's Milk Products, Inc.,
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., The Willys-Overland Company (Fine Motor Cars),
Universal Pictures, Gillette Safety Razor Co., Imperial Sugar Company,
Life Savers Corporation, Bayer Aspirin Company, Revere Copper & Brass Inc.,
The Studebaker Corporation, The Texas Co. and Wright Aeronautical Corp.
C.J. Holt has collected refunds on commodities such as textiles, petroleum,
chemicals, metals, film, tobacco, leather, pharmaceuticals and automobiles.
By working with so many different companies on such a variety of commodities for over 150 years, C.J. Holt established its reputation as the most versatile and the oldest continuously operating drawback specialist in the United States
In 1951, C.J. Holt & Co., Inc. was involved in a court case which became
the basis for determining what constituted a manufacture for drawback
purposes. In C.J. Holt & Co., Inc. v. United States, 27 Cust. Ct. 88 C.D.
13852 (1951), the United States Customs Court held that the assembly of a
tire onto a wheel was a manufacture for purposes of the drawback
manufacturing law. The court accepted the plaintiff's contention that spare
wheels with tires and tubes are necessary parts of automobiles 27 Cust. CT., at 89. This major court decision became the basis for Customs Service
Decisions 81-142 and 84-52 which are still in effect today.
In the 1990's, members of the firm C.J. Holt have been integral in writing
the drawback portion of the Customs Modernization Act and were selected
to serve on the Drawback Regulations Team, which rewrote the Drawback
Regulations (Part 191) using interest-based problem solving methodology.
This method was a totally new approach to writing regulations because it
took into consideration both Customs' and Trade's interests and concerns
about drawback and reached resolutions which both could support.
As C.J. Holt & Co., Inc. has entered the twenty first century, its rich history and solid reputation will continue to influence the future of duty drawback for many years to come.