FROM THE HILL
By Christian Robinson
Congressman Cools Off in the River City
Vintage Air Hosts U.S. Representative Lamar Smith
It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. If you’ve ever been to San Antonio, Texas, in the summer, you know it’s not uncommon for the mercury to push triple digits. When it’s that hot, having a running air-conditioning system in your car is a must. Enter Jack Chisenhall. When he founded Vintage Air in 1976, no one else was producing air-conditioning systems and components for classic cars and trucks.
Thirty-eight years later, Vintage Air continues to expand. Every system and component is engineered and manufactured in-house at the company’s 55,000-sq.-ft. San Antonio headquarters by more than 140 skilled American workers, many of whom are hot rodders themselves.
U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) also hails from San Antonio. In fact, his family has called the area home for five generations. Smith was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986 to represent Texas’s 21st Congressional District, which stretches from San Antonio north to Austin. Vintage Air, its ownership and employees are part of Smith’s constituency.
In Congress, Smith serves as chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others. He also serves on both the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. In 2011, he was named Policymaker of the Year by Politico magazine for his work on patent reform legislation.
While most know Smith as “Congressman,” he’s recently added another title to his collection: enthusiast. This year, he and his son checked an item off their bucket list by purchasing a ’80 Porsche 911 that’s in need of some TLC—a first for the father-and-son pair.
“Having just purchased a collector car of my own, I was truly excited to visit Vintage Air,” Rep. Smith said. “What the folks are doing there is remarkable. They are a model of success not just in the automotive aftermarket industry but for businesses nationwide.”
During his tour, Rep. Smith was able to see how Vintage Air has grown. In the past year, it has expanded its local footprint with the addition of a complete evaporator and condensing coil manufacturing operation. This new department joins an already impressive roster of cutting-edge operations, including robotic machining, fiber-optic laser cutting and wind-tunnel testing.
Crucial to this expansion has been business expensing tax deductions (Section 179 in the tax code), which allow companies to deduct the cost of new equipment in the year it’s purchased instead of depreciating the cost over time. However, deductions at the $500,000 level expired at the start of the year and reverted to the pre-recession $25,000 level. Congress is considering a bill to renew the measure at $500,000, which encourages American companies, such as Vintage Air, to invest in the latest tools for manufacturing their products.
“The ability to show Rep. Smith firsthand how these important expensing deductions helped fuel our growth was invaluable,” Vintage Air Executive Vice President Rick Love said. “It is a message the Congressman can take back to Washington as he seeks to convince his fellow lawmakers to extend these pro-business benefits.”
For more information on planning your own Congressional District Site Visit, contact Christian Robinson in the SEMA government affairs office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Al Azadi
Al Azadi is the founder and president of Omix-ADA, which is headquartered in Suwanee, Georgia. Azadi joined the SEMA PAC President’s Club in 2012 and is active with many charitable organizations, including SEMA Cares.
“The automotive aftermarket is a major contributor to the U.S. economy,” Azadi said. “At the same time, our industry could be negatively impacted if our government does not understand how its daily decisions impact our businesses. SEMA’s Washington, D.C., team is an integral part in maintaining a consistent voice in government to effectively represent and protect our industry. That is why I am a SEMA PAC President’s Club member.”
For more information on SEMA PAC, contact SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson by phone at 202-783-6007 x20 or e-mail at email@example.com.